Writing Your Business Plan – What Goes in a Great Business Plan?


Writing “The”  Business   Plan 

What goes in it? No one  business   plan  is truly better than another, although there is general agreement in the industry about what makes a  business   plan  easier to read, therefore easier to defend. Here are my thoughts on an effective  business   plan .

1. A  Business   Plan  includes these – list each section in your table of contents

1a. A Description of your business – Please use your words effectively. There is nothing worse than 150 pages of fluff and 5 pages of real content. The method of if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with B/S does not work here. You are not talking to stupid people when it comes to  business   plans . Never assume they can be fooled. You aren’t that smart. Nobody is.

1b. Marketing – The methods you intend to use or already are using and what has worked well in the past (proven results are ALWAYS a win-win). Online research is perfect for this!

1c. Competition – Who is YOUR competition and how are you going to manage to take a significant portion of the market share of your niche? Grandstanding is not allowed. Don’t boast about anything here other than PROVEN results. If you do then you risk losing respect and end up looking like an… dummy opportunist.

1d. Operating procedures – What type of an office do you intend to operate, and how will you operate it? Do you have office space or are you looking for something to rent/buy?. If you are looking then when you go out take your camera and have 3-4 sites documented – with address and map information (PowerPoint presentations have excellent formats to create this type of document-with eye appeal). Will you use an answering service or a receptionist?…

1e. Personnel – You don’t need a list of everyone down to the janitor (unless you are creating a  business   plan  for a janitorial service), but you will need a list and resume of the main corporate structure beginning with the president down to the secretary, a listing of a board of directors if you have one (3-5 is a good amount to begin with). List your advisors here too, like your CPA, Business Advisor, attorney, and other professionals that you use regularly – they may be your Board of Directors.

1f. Business insurance – As a bookkeeper I carry a 2 million insurance bond on myself. That is a lot, but I would include my insurance paperwork in this section to prove my integrity.

2. All of your financial Data – also listed in your table of contents

2a. Loan applications – any paperwork that you prepared for a loan and if you are asking a partner or friend, stop by a bank and get a copy of their loan request documents and use those for yourself. You’ll look like a pro if you do!

2b. Capital equipment and supply list – from the supplies on the desk to the desk itself – get an office supply catalog if you aren’t sure so that you do not leave things out that might add up to unexpected costs down the road.

2c. Balance sheet – If you don’t know how to make one, ask a professional or create one from the numerous examples online, or go to your small business administration and ask them. They have mentors there who will sit down with you and review your  business   plan  with you to see how it can be more effective – usually retired professionals with a lot of  business  savvy.

2d. Breakeven analysis – See ‘Balance Sheet.’

2e. Pro-forma income projections (profit & loss statements) – See ‘Balance Sheet’

2f. Three-year summary – Do each year separately and do a summary of years 1-3 combined also, so that you have year by year comparisons and a total column too.

2g. A first year detail by the month (day 1 through 30)

2h. Detail by quarters, Quarter 1, 2, 3, 4 for your first year, second and third year.

2i. List the assumptions that your projections are based on – example: additional staff decisions are based on growth projections of 20% per month for the first 8 months in year one…

2j. Pro-forma cash flow – See ‘Balance Sheet’

3. Any and All remaining Supporting Documents – List in your table of contents

3a. Tax returns of principals for last three years Personal financial

statement (you can pick these form up at most all banks). Even though it seems like it is none of anyone’s business these are relevant to a bank or loaning institution so that they can see your history and how you operate (or don’t operate).

3b. For any franchised businesses, a copy of your franchise contract and all the supporting documents provided by the franchise operator.

3c. A copy of your proposed lease or purchase agreement for building or rental space.

3d. A copy of any licenses you may have acquired for your business and any other legal documents you may have.

3e. A copy of the resumes of all the principals – people you consider to be your main people you are putting in the top company positions.

3f. Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc. – those that will buy from you if you go into business (can also be considered a list of potential customers who signed a document to do business with you.

3g. A well executed exit strategy is worth its weight in gold for paying back a loan, or money to an investor (if you are asking for private funds). Don’t forget to write this out and include it in your  business   plan  as well (also in your table of contents).

Source by Mischelle Watkins

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