Starting a new business might be quite a challenge in itself. From figuring out the financial details, to creating contracts and agreements, the task of creating a business plan in the beginning feels like a task that can be postponed for later days or cancel it altogether. However, a business plan is nothing else but the brainstorming that should take place in the first steps of any creation, being the guide that can keep you on the track of your vision. It is the structure that will sustain your business when you lose sight of your goals.
The great thing about a business plan is that it can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be. It should definitely have a structure and an outline. In the United States there are multiple counseling centers and libraries that can offer assistance, being at the same time a good place to research information and facts.
In its most basic form and structure, here is what a business plan should include:
I. COVER LETTER ( containing the name of the business,the logo, the name of owner(s)
or partners, and the address, phone number, email(s) and other
contact information). Be creative and make it attractive.
- STATEMENT OF PURPOSE (should answer the and what, who, why,
where, and when of the business)
- THE BUSINESS – 1. Description of business (sole proprietorship, partnership,
limited partnership, limited liability partnership, limited
liability company, corporation)
2. Study of the market & competition (study by product or
service, industry, season, or area of coverage)
3. Location (analyze the demographics, demands or trends of
4. Management and personnel (list names, duties, strengths
and weaknesses, needs and demands)
5. Financial resources (funding or loans, buys or leases)
6. Sales and Marketing strategy / Production
and Development methods (explain how the business will
bring and keep customers, bringing sales and profit)
- FINANCIAL ANALYSIS – depending on the type of business, this part of the business plan is the most challenging. It should report income projections by month and years, explain cash flow and investments and forecast profit or losses in different scenarios.
- DOCUMENTATION – all the legal paperwork to have a good standing and functioning of the business: contracts,licenses, statements, agreements, leases or letters of intent.
III. APPENDIX / TABLE OF CONTENTS
Even if the business plan is written mainly for you, it can always be used to apply for a loan or presented when in search of investment. A business plan is a statement of what your business is all about, being a mean of communication , a map and a guide at the same time. Even the process of writing it is an excercise of discovery and learning about the process of being an entrepreneur. It is not a waste of time and you will only benefit from writing it as soon as possible.