A business plan is an essential prerequisite for any commercial venture. Whether you're launching an entirely new business or expanding your existing company, having a clear, detailed and compelling plan is an indispensable first step.
A well-presented business plan will help you to get the support that you need to succeed—for instance, you will need it to secure external sources of finance. To help you get started on the right foot, here is a short guide covering some of the sections your business plan absolutely must include.
This section discusses the kind of business you're launching: delivery, Renault van hire, removals, construction, food truck, etc. Your business description should briefly explore the history of your industry, how it's changed and developed in recent years, and, most importantly, how it's likely to grow in the near future. You should also look at potential problems that might arise in your sector, and how you've anticipated and prepared for those. Things to watch out for include external factors such as new regulation, such as standards for emissions reduction or license requirements, or changes in taxation.
This is where your market analysis gets a chance to shine: present the market research you've conducted, the insights you’ve gained—e.g. who your users and consumers will be—and how you'll use this information to meet your business targets. This section should demonstrate your familiarity with all aspects of your target market, and describe the ways you'll position your company to take the fullest advantage of it. It should consist of two main parts:
- Customer Analysis: who exactly the customers are, what demographic they belong to, their persona or psychographic profiles, what their needs are and how you plan to meet those needs.
- Marketing Plan: how you plan on communicating with your customers, which channels you plan to use, how you will promote your business, and what brand positioning you propose for your goods and/or services.
In the competitive analysis section, you will take careful stock of rival companies in your sector. Define who your main competitors are, describe the goods or services they're offering and the customer base they serve. You need to discuss the differences between your business and theirs: how you’re going to provide additional value, reach more people, or appeal to a different demographic, for example.
Design and Development Plan
Your design and development plan will describe the development of the services and goods you will be offering, and how they will be presented to the customer. This section could include elements such as the livery you've chosen for your Renault vans, for example.
The operations and management plan is intended to outline the ongoing operation of the company as a whole. You'll describe your action plan and discuss the milestones you expect your company to reach. In this context, you'll also discuss the management structure of your business: who will be responsible for which activities and systems.
The section on financial data is usually the final part of a business plan. Despite this, it's an extremely important section and should be as detailed and comprehensive as possible. The financial plan lays out the anticipated incomings and outgoings of your business, including the kind of profit you can realistically expect to achieve. The financial plan will include information such as:
- External sources of funding and how they'll be invested
- The assets that you need to acquire
- Your projected revenues over the next one to five years
You will typically write your executive summary once you are finished the rest of your plan; however, the finished version will be featured at the start of your business plan, right after the title page.
This crucial piece of the puzzle is nearly always written last because it summarises the information contained in the rest of the plan. The executive summary is your opportunity to lay out your ambitions for your company: describe what you want to accomplish with your new plan, and why your business is especially qualified to succeed. Your executive summary should also outline what you need to make the business a success, such as financial investment.
Hopefully, the process of creating your plan will enable you to gain a clearer picture of your business and its future. Make sure to invest the time and energy into making your business shine!