Crafting a Business Plan

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Your company’s business plan can be one of your most important business documents – IF it is well written and usable. A plan that is unrealistic, too simplistic, or a monstrosity parked in a binder, is useless. it must be a living document for the CEO and leadership team. Business plans should be crafted with the end use in mind (always begin every project with the end in mind). Depending on the need of the business, the business plan will have different characteristics. In some cases, it might be necessary to have two versions of your business plan.

I. If the plan is to be used to attain funding from financial institutions or investors, its tone will be geared for that type of reader. The business must be described as a well conceived and viable business. Investors want to assess the comprehensiveness of the idea and/or the products and services. They will review the management team and their experience and the financials will be rigorously reviewed. The business plan

must not only be compelling, but thorough and detailed.

II. If the plan is to be used by the CEO/entrepreneur who intends to use the plan as a road map for the business, it will be written with the strategic goals of the business in mind. Attention to the objectives of each strategic goal and tactical steps to achieve those goals will be included in the plan. Practical financial projections must be included and the emphasis is on the requirements for starting and growing a profitable business.

Engagement

All business plans must reflect the leadership, management, direction, culture and ambitions of the business and its CEO. As such, it is really important to make sure that CxO To Go and the CEO/leadership team have a good relationship right from the start. Initially, we provide a complimentary consultation with you to understand your needs and planned use of your business plan. This allows you to get to know our business plan writers and judge their work style, depth of knowledge and deliverables. At that time, we will also be assessing your business planning needs and the level of information, research and documentation already in place that can be used in the development of your plan.

As we agree to go forward together, CxO To Go will provide a written proposal outlining the scope of work, the deliverables from all involved, due dates and price. During the project, should requirements be added or taken away, the proposal will be adjusted accordingly. The point is to make sure that all expectations are met, on time and at the agreed upon price.

Methodology

In addition to the Executive Summary (which provides a synopsis of the plan and is critical for lender financing) a business plan is made up of five distinct sections; each with important components. An appendix may be included if there is substantial supporting content to reinforce statements made in the plan.

We will work with you to survey the information needed to complete each section. By following the outline below, a thorough plan can be crafted narrating the purpose of the company, your products and services, how you going to produce, market and sell your products and services, who and how you will manage the business and how it will be financed and sustain profitability.

Some of these sections will be one or two sentences in length. It is not necessary to have an abundance of words. Brevity with specific content is preferable. Depending on the type of your business and your point in the organization lifecycle, some of these sections will be more robust than others. A few sections may not be pertinent to your business at all.

It is important to remember that your plan will only be as good and thorough as the information you share.

1. Description of the Business Section

a. Describe the company in terms of product and what is the “secret sauce” that makes your company different, your go to market strategy, and why the CEO and management team provide a competitive advantage.

b. Company purpose, mission and vision statements

i. Statement of company strategy and goals

c. Define the Market opportunity or concept (size and scope in $ and potential unit volume)

i. Description of your industry and the competitors, industry maturity stage, seasonality impacts, outside economic factors, and government regulations

ii. Industry analysis and trends, define the size and historical growth of the industry, and channels of distribution

d. Business Life Cycle Stage

i. What stage of the business life cycle is the business? Detail in terms of development, customers, revenue, technology, etc.

e. Overview of the products and services offered currently and proposed for the future

i. Description of all products and services. What need do they fill that is missing today? What is your “secret sauce”? How do they save time or money? Why should someone buy?

f. Major Milestones

i. Outline key milestones achieved to date and the outcomes

ii. Define future milestones to measure success and discuss the anticipated outcomes

g. Community involvement and social responsibility of the company and its leaders

h. Exit plan / Strategy (this is key as most companies fail to recognize they must start with the end in mind)

2. Marketing and Sales Section

a. What is the Value Proposition for the target market, target customers, and how will you reach them

i. Comprehensive understanding of the customer base and their unique needs and how does your Value Proposition resonate with them?

ii. Define the characteristics of the market and the customers

iii. Demographic information (age, preferences, geography, etc.)

b. Marketing and sales strategy to leverage the Value Proposition

i. Market size and past trends (information of future outlook if available)

ii. Your company’s sales pitch (product, price, promotion and place)

iii. Marketing approach (direct, indirect, internet, etc.)

iv. Marketing budget – must determine the cash available to spend, then allocate accodingly

v. Sales staff structure – direct or indirect sales team, commissioned representatives, etc.

vi. Sales projections – forecast sales by product and market

c. Competition and market dynamics

i. Know your competition and their strengths and weakness

ii. Know your customers and their expectations

d. SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)

i. Your strategic position (advantages and barriers)

ii. Risk analysis

3. Operations Section

a. How will the business be structured to accomplish the strategic goals

b. Facilities required (size, equipment, location)

c. Production/assembly requirements

d. Supply, distribution and order fulfillment (in house or out sourced?)

f. Customer service/order taking (in house or out sourced?)

g. Research and development for future new products

4. Management and Organization Section

a. Brief resumes of management team

b. Staffing – current and projected

c. Proposed compensations, incentives and benefits

d. Board of Directors, Advisory Boards and Consultants

5. Financial Section

a. Income Statement

b. Cash Flow Projections

c. Balance Sheet

d. Break-even Analysis

e. Sources and uses of funds

In the course of your business operations, it may be necessary to update assumptions, financial projections, milestone charts and management profiles. We are happy to update the plan whenever warranted to ensure it is truly a living document that provides direction for the business.


Source by Keith McAslan

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