Business planning: The How (Part 5 of 6)

In today’s installment I want to delve deeper into a business plan and describe some of the common sections to give you a clearer understanding. This list is by no means exhaustive but will cover most plans. Depending on the purpose of your plan, you may need to include other information that is relevant to the purpose, such as immigration, finance, investors, etc.

Business description.

One of the first sections in your plan, this sets the framework. It provides are concise and clear description of your business that a complete stranger could read it and then understand what you do and what your stand for. This will include sections like Business Overview, Business Concept, Products and services, Vision, Mission, Values and History

S.W.O.T.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – an essential part of any plan.

Your market and industry

Describe your target markets to the highest level of detail that you can. Define your biggest 3-4 markets, then for each one define the geographic area, characteristics, what matters to them, their activities, income levels and any other details of use and peculiarity to that market. Also research what is happening in your industry, your area and (if relevant) the economy as a whole. This will include sections like Target market, industry trends and Competitor Analysis.

Business growth

If you are planning to grow, this section details how you intend to make it happen. Is it through new products, expansion of sales to current clients, online sales, new clients or a wider area? Quantify your targets so you have specific goals to work towards.

Marketing and sales

This section describes your marketing and sales strategy, including marketing fundamentals such as your target market and marketing positioning. You will then go on to detail all marketing activities and measurements. This section will include Marketing positioning, Marketing Materials, Marketing Measurement, Marketing initiatives, Internet marketing, Social media and Sales Strategy.

Operations

If you are planning to change the way your business operates or are a new business then this section will describe how your business will work on a day-day basis and what infrastructure you will need.

Risks

No business exists without risk, especially if you are growing and investing. Detailing your risks enables you to strategise on minimisation and to be ready to deal with them.

Financial projections

Projections are a very detailed month-month estimate of the finances of your business and include sales, cash in, costs and profits. Although they are an estimate, putting them together makes you look at every detail of your business under the microscope, which is a very useful exercise. Even those of you who are afraid of numbers, make the effort to do this as you will understand your business so much better once you have finished. (Get help if you need!)

Start Up Costs

If you are starting a business or investing in new ventures within your current business, it is vital to know the costs to the highest degree of accuracy possible.

Action Plan

Drawing out key tasks and deadlines is very important to being your plan to life.


Warren Harmer

Warren Harmer

Owner at The Business Plan Company

Small, fast growing and entrepreneurial businesses are my passion. I like to write business plans for them, grow them, advise them and write about them. My experience now spans over 17 years, including 3 businesses of my own. My objective is to offer instructive, hands-on, ‘how to’ information to make business ownership easier, less stressful, more successful and more enjoyable.

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