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Writing a Business Plan for Your Startup: Step-By-Step

Strategy is the art of war, and this applies heavily to business too. As you set up your startup, you have a few objectives in mind and resources you need to achieve these goals. Even greater is your need to expand your horizons and gain profits. Thus, to distinguish your business enterprise from the rest of your competitors, the business plan comes in handy.

Writing a Business Plan
A business plan will prepare you for losses and how you might overcome those losses. (© Pexels)

Going in blind is not a professional stance when it comes to business. Therefore, writing a business plan helps in outlining facts from fiction when starting your business and to financially survive the first year.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is an important tool that outlines your ability to successfully tap into the market and is designed to assist achieve your operational objectives. It defines the gravity of every decision you will ever make. It is a description of your business structure, budgets, and the market niche you are taking advantage of. It also highlights your credit scores just in case capital firms and banks are attracted to invest in your business.

Why Do I Need a Business Plan?

Viability. If you were to sit down and brainstorm through all the business ideas you’ve had as an entrepreneur, we assure you that not all are redeemable in the long run. While the process of writing a business plan is tedious, it helps you get your skills of proprietorship and entrepreneurship off the ground. Just the ability to perform a risk-benefit assessment to every business idea increases your chances at success.

As a skeleton, you need to sketch out the operational terms of your business, including management, staffing, and the hierarchies to be considered. Also, the demand-supply hand of the market can never be overlooked, and it would not be practical to enter a market with no demand for your product.

The settings of your business location, including the industrial site, capital goods, and services, will go a long way in creating a blueprint for your business. Blueprints are essential just in case you miss something out of the picture, say dumping sites for your waste or warehouse for your goods. That can all be translated smoothly into a business plan.

Finances are to be taken into account, and this will determine whether you can find capital for your business or not. A plan will prepare you for losses and how you might overcome those losses. Profits accrued may be used as capital, recurrent expenditure, or for expanding your business.

Therefore, to answer the question of why do you need a business plan? We will say it is, to avoid the regret of investing money and time into a non-viable business.

Steps to Writing a Business Plan

Most businesses will have a tailor-made business plan, but they all follow a general rule book in terms of an outline. Remember that the plan isn’t just for you. So, while writing a business plan, make your strengths appear first and regularly to be granted financing and respect.

The Business Plan Outline

1. The Executive Summary

It is the abstract of the business. The general outlook of your business plan and future goals. Whenever an investor needs a summary, this section applies heavily.

2. Staffing

If you have in your staff a unique group of elite business-minded people, then highlight their strengths as they will help cement your reputation in the eyes of the investors.

The executive summary always comes first, but you should follow through with strong opinions about your business.

3. Problem to Solve

Involves the market analysis that establishes a gap in the market that you are willing and able to fill. Your investors are also able to assess the viability of your business based on your knowledge on the market and the trends of that particular client base.

4. The Mission, Vision and Objectives

A vision board will redirect the readers of your business plan to your real intent on setting up shop and starting a business. The mission can only be unique to yourself, whether it is to franchise or to assist the community around you. Highlight your 5-year or 10-year goals strategically for the intention of expansion.

5. Analysis of the Competition

Competitors are barriers to expansion. Thus, you need to assess the market for their strengths and weaknesses. You will need to outline the strategies in place to subdue your competition.

6. Sales and Marketing Plan

The reader here gets a detailed preview of the businesses’ strategy for sales forecast, advertisement, and pricing, and benefits accrued to acquiring those goods and services.

7. Management Plan

This is a rundown of your legal limits and abilities in the allocation of a structure to your team. They include human resources, management that contains advisory boards, internal affairs, and external affairs.

8. Operating Plan

A depiction of the capital goods in your business, including premises, equipment, suppliers, and employees currently available. An outline of the manufacturing procedures is also implied.

9. Financial Plan

Here you will attach documents of accounting and financial statements, which includes the income statement, the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement which give a general feel of your financial needs. Investors can make decisions based on these pieces of evidence.

10.  Appendices

You may also be inclined to include transcripts of additional information that may be crucial for the reader. Photographs of your merchandise and any market research you may have carried out.

11.  Table of Contents

Includes each section of the document and its page numbers.

Example of a Business Plan Template

This is an example of the general outline of the business plan.

1. Title Page

Includes business information. These are; the legal name, address, and logo.

Business Plan for “Business Name”

    • “Date”
    • “Business address.”
    • “Email”
    • “Website
    • “Telephone”
    • When presenting to a company or individual include:
    • Presented to: “Name”
    • “Company or Financial Institution”

2. Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary……………………………………….Page #
  • Staffing……………………………………………………….. Page #
  • Mission, Vision, and Objectives………………………Page #
  • Analysis of the competition…………………………….Page #
  • Analysis of the market……………………………………Page #
  • Marketing Plan……………………………………………..Page #
  • Ownership and Management Plan…………………..Page #
  • Operating Plan………………………………………………Page #
  • Financial Plan……………………………………………….Page #
  • Appendices …………………………………………………..Page #

We are now optimistic that the beginning of your business journey will be an adventure. With the skills you now possess, the roadmap to your entrepreneurial success is defined. Attracting your investors will be easier and will leave a lasting impression in the minds of big CEOs and financial institutions. You will now be ahead of the game, and the conquest of your market niche is only a matter of putting pen to paper and writing a beautifully crafted business plan.

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