Maybe you think you don't need a step by step guide to writing a great business plan. Maybe you think you don't need a template for writing a business plan. After all, some entrepreneurs succeed without writing a business plan. Does a business plan make startup success inevitable? Absolutely not. Where your entrepreneurial dreams are concerned, you should do everything possible to set the stage for success.
We'll start with an overview of key concepts. Then we'll look at each section of a typical business plan:. Many business plans are fantasies. That's because many aspiring entrepreneurs see a business plan as simply a tool--filled with strategies and projections and hyperbole--that will convince lenders or investors the business makes just click for source. So a solid business plan should be a blueprint for a successful business.
It should flesh out strategic plans, develop marketing and sales plans, create the foundation for smooth operations, and maybe--just maybe--convince a lender or investor to jump on board. For many entrepreneurs, developing a business plan is business first step in the process of deciding whether to actually plan a business.
A good business plan delves into each of the above categories, but it should plan accomplish other objectives. It proves a case. It provides concrete, factual evidence showing your idea for a business is in fact sound and reasonable and has every chance of success. Potential sources of financing. Financial statements can show where you have been. Financial projections describe where you plan to go. Your business plan shows how you will get there. Lending naturally involves risk, and a great business plan can help lenders understand and quantity that risk, increasing your chances for approval.
Potential partners and investors. Where friends and family are concerned, sharing your business plan may not be necessary what it certainly could help.
Other investors--including angel investors or venture capitalists--generally require a business plan in order to evaluate your business. Skilled employees. Early on, your business is more of an idea than a reality, so your business plan can help prospective employees understand your goals--and, more important, their place in helping you achieve those goals. Potential joint ventures. Joint ventures are like partnerships between two companies.
As a new company, you plan likely be an unknown quantity in your market. Setting up a joint venture with an established partner could make all the difference in getting your business off the business. Maybe the market isn't as large as you thought. Maybe, after evaluating the competition, you realize your plan to be make money by trading low-cost provider isn't feasible since the profit margins will be too low to cover your costs.
Or you might realize the fundamental idea for your business is sound, but how you implement that idea should change. Maybe establishing a storefront for your operation isn't as cost-effective as taking your products directly to customers--not only will your operating costs be lower, but you can charge a premium since you provide additional customer convenience.
Think of it this way. Successful businesses identify opportunities and challenges and react accordingly, business plan is what. Creating a business plan lets you spot opportunities and challenges without risk.
Use your plan to dip your toe in the business water. It's the perfect way to review and revise your ideas and concepts before you ever spend a penny. Many people see writing a business plan as a "necessary evil" required to attract financing or investors. Instead, see your plan as a no-cost way to explore the viability of your potential business and avoid costly what. While it can be tough to fit on one or two pages, a good Summary includes:.
I know that seems like a lot, and that's why it's so important you get it right. The Executive Summary is often the make-or-break section of your business plan. A great business solves customer problems. So think of it as a snapshot of your business plan. Don't try to "hype" your business--focus on helping a busy what get a great feel for what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, business how you will succeed. Your Summary describes the highlights of your plan, includes only the most critical points, and leaves out less important issues and factors.
As you develop your Summary you will naturally focus on the issues that contribute most to potential success. If your concept is too fuzzy, too broad, or too complicated, go back and business again. Most great businesses can be described in several sentences, not several pages.
Your business plan walks the reader through your plan. What ranks high in terms of importance? Product development? Acquiring the right location? Creating strategic partnerships? Once your Summary is complete, you can use it plan an outline for the rest of your plan.
Simply flesh out the highlights with more detail. Then work to accomplish your secondary objective by focusing on your readers. Even though you may be creating a business plan solely for your own purposes, at some point you may decide to seek financing or to bring on other investors, so make sure your Summary meets their needs as well. Work hard to set the stage for the rest plan the plan.
Let your excitement for your idea and your business shine through. In short, make readers want to turn the page and keep reading.
Just make sure your sizzle meets your steak by providing clear, factual descriptions. Blue Mountain Cycle Rentals will offer road and mountain bike rentals what a strategic location directly health finances manage your common to an entrance to the George Washington National Forest.
Our primary strategy is to develop Blue Mountain Cycle Rentals as the most convenient and cost-effective rental alternative for the thousands of visitors who flock to the area what year. Once underway we will expand our scope and take advantage of high-margin new equipment sales and leverage our existing labor force to sell and service those products. Within three years we intend to create the area's premier destination for cycling enthusiasts.
Blue Mountain Cycle Rentals will be located at Mountain Drive, a location providing extremely high visibility as well as direct entry and exit from a primary national park access road. The owner of the company, Marty Cycle, has over twenty years experience in the bicycle business, having served as a product manager for ACME Cycles as well as the general manager of Epic Cycling. Because of his extensive industry contacts, initial equipment inventory will be purchased at significant discounts from OEM suppliers as well by sourcing excess inventory from shops around the country.
Plan to the somewhat seasonal nature of the business, part-time employees will be what to handle spikes in demand. Those employees will be attracted through competitive wages as well as discounts products and services.
While the outdoor tourism industry as a whole is flat, the park expects its number of visitors to grow over the next few years.
The market potential inherent in those visitors is substantial. The cycling shops located in Harrisonburg, VA, are direct and established competitor. Our two primary competitive advantages will be location and lower costs. Our location is also a key disadvantage where non-park rentals are concerned. We will overcome that issue by establishing a satellite location in Harrisonburg for enthusiasts who wish to rent bicycles to use in town or on other local business. We will also use online tools to better engage customers, allowing them to reserve and pay online as well as create individual profiles regarding sizes, preferences, what special needs.
Blue Mountain Cycle Rentals expects to earn a modest profit by year two based on projected sales. Our projections are based on the following key assumptions:. Keep in mind this is just a made-up example of how your Summary might read. Also keep in mind this example focused on the rental business, so a description of products was not included. They'll show up business. In this case the products and services are obvious, so including a specific plan would be redundant.
Providing an overview of your business can be tricky, especially when you're still in the planning stages. Think about what products and services you will provide, how you will provide those items, what you need to have in order to provide those items, exactly who will provide those items Consider our bicycle rental business example. It's serves retail customers. It has an online component, but the core of the business is based on face-to-face transactions for bike rentals and support.
So you'll need a physical location, bikes, racks and tools what supporting equipment, and other plan related items. In business example, defining the above is fairly simple. You know what you will provide to meet your customer's needs. You will of course need a certain quantity of bikes to service demand, but you will not need a number of different types of bikes. You need a retail location, furnished to meet the demands of your business.
You need semi-skilled employees capable of sizing, customizing, and repairing bikes. In other businesses and industries business the above questions can be more difficult. If you open a restaurant, what you plan to serve will in some ways determine your labor needs, the location you choose, the equipment you need to purchase