The prospect of writing a business plan can be overwhelming for a would-be entrepreneur. It is a time-consuming and laborious exercise, and it requires that you intimately know and understand your business, your product or service, your competition, and the market.
Is it really worth the effort?
Yes. Beyond helping you obtain a bank loan or financing from investors, a business plan serves as a road map to guide you through the start-up, growth, and expansion phases of your business. A comprehensive business plan sets forth a vision for your company and outlines how you intend to realize that vision.
The US Small Business Administration recommends that business plans include an executive summary, a company description, a mission statement, a description of products and/or services, a market analysis, an outline of the business’s proposed organizational and management structure, a detailed financial analysis, and a succinct description of the short- and long-term goals of the business.
Another key component of a good business plan is a strategic marketing plan. Your marketing plan should include detailed sales objectives and marketing strategies as well as plans for bought and earned PR, an optimized website, targeted online advertising, social media marketing, pricing, promotions, and proposed conversion techniques.
The marketing plan should also include data about your target market, budgetary and cash flow projections, operational plans and contingencies, growth milestones, ways of measuring progress, and other details, such as licensing agreements.
A business plan is a living document that can help guide future business decisions and keep your business relevant over time. You may need to modify your plan as the business grows and/or as the market evolves. Whether you’re sharing it with investors, potential joint venture partners, or board members, it needs to show that you’re committed, passionate, and dedicated to the success of your business.