How to Write a Business Plan

By Tom Egelhoff

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Before you start up your business, you first have to have a solid foundation of what your business really does and what it’s supposed to do in order for it to be significant enough to be a success. Unfortunately, we see most people jump into the startup waters without this essential foundation in place. Not only does a well- written business plan get you ahead of the game, it is essential if you’re looking for startup funds. The very first question any investor or lender will ask is: “Do you have a business plan?”

Don’t get caught off guard. It seems a bit daunting putting a business plan together. We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ve broken down each section of the business plan in manageable chunks. Remember you’re not trying to look into a crystal ball for your startup’s future…your goal in the business plan is to show the plan of action of how to get to success, what that success looks like, and who will help you get there.

After this, you should be well on your way to creating a successful business plan.

How to Write a Business Plan

Having a solid startup business plan can be one of the best weapons that an entrepreneur has in his or her arsenal to fully flesh out what you really have in mind for your business and make it clear to those investors and gain that well-deserved funding for your startup!

But what should you put in your startup business plan? What is a business plan? Are there any examples of business plans that I can see? Absolutely.

There are a variety of different sources that follow similar outlines for a startup business plan from The US Small Business AdministrationEntrepreneur magazine and Forbes magazine.

Investors are used to getting accessible and specific information, and they want everything to be laid out there and consistent, which is what your startup business plan will exactly do.

Here are the elements of a business plan:

1. The Cover Page

Although this seems obvious, having a cover page that clearly shows the name of your startup business can give potential investors an idea of what your business is before you even pitch it to them.

Your cover page should also include important contact information so that they can easily reach you.

Here at Startup Jungle, we have created hundreds of business plan templates that are fill-in-the-blanks, making it even easier to get your business off the ground. Simply email [email protected], let us know what business you’re starting, and we’ll send you the details.

2. The Executive Summary

What is the executive summary of a business plan? This is your pitch.

Your executive summary is one of the most (if not the most) important section of your startup business plan. This is a brief section that says what your business idea is, why they should invest in it and why it would be successful.

This section determines if you are getting funding for your startup or not because if the investors don’t like your Executive Summary, they won’t look into your business plan further and your idea might be rejected.

So make sure when writing up your startup business plan, focus on making the executive summary clearly explain all the key points of your business idea.

3. Company Overview

This is where you give a profile of your startup business. It should answer things like where the business is located, when it was formed, what your business sells or intends to sell, what kind of market your business serves or intends to serve with your products or services.

This is an overview of what your business is. It’s like an extended pitch right after you wowed the investors with your executive summary and helps understand and fill-in the gaps of what goals your business is aiming for.

4. Industry Analysis

This section of your startup business plan should cover statistical things like what kind of industry your business is in and what kind of money does it make as well as what sort of competition you have.

This should also outline what kind of target market your business is focusing on and how your products and services answer the needs of your target market that could attract more potential customers into it.

Having a solid background of what kind of market your startup business is trying to serve will let investors get a bigger idea of what potential financial growth your business could turn into.

5. Customer Analysis

This section of your startup business plan gets more in-depth into identifying the customers your business’ products and services sells or intends to sell to.

Having a business and products is one thing, but what’s the reason for having all of that if you don’t even know what your business is for and who those products were made for?

Be as specific as you can when outlining who your target customers are. That way, your potential investors could get a clearer view of what you’re aiming for.

6. Competitive Analysis

In this section of your startup business, you give an outline of the specific competitors you have within your target market.

List things such as their strengths and weaknesses and follow-up with what kind of strategies your business does or will do in order for you to gain a distinct edge from the rest of them.

You should also point out what your business can make the most use of within the process of developing your products so that you can set up walls to stop other competition from entering your target market.

It pays to know one’s rivals, but it also pays to not have more of them. Keep an eye out on who might be trying to get into your game and find ways to stop the competition altogether before they became a threat to your business

7. Marketing Plan

No startup business would make any sort of significant profit if they don’t have a solid marketing strategy!

This section should focus on what your plan of action is to attract your target market, as they are the raft that keeps your business afloat.

There are plenty of ways to create a marketing strategy.  Yours should be something that tries to break the mold. Make it a unique one just for your business that could set yourself apart from the rest.

8. Operations & Management Team

This part of your startup business plan describes the operations that your management handles on a day-to-day basis.

Focus on highlighting the well-oiled machine that runs your whole operation such as your management team and their responsibilities. Include its various divisions and their assigned tasks as well as a clear rundown of the capital and expenses required to keep your operation afloat.

9. Financial Plan

Usually, this section is brought down to almost the very end of your startup business plan. However, that doesn’t make it any less important than your executive summary or marketing plan.

This section holds statistical information shown as charts, graphs, and tables regarding the financial projections your business has currently made.  This section also includes the expenses that it keeps up with to keep its operation running.

It also shows what you intend to make as your business grows and moves forward.

A successful business is a financially stable one. It’s important that investors see that you have a well laid out projection

10. Exit Plan

This may seem odd, but the very last part of your startup business plan describes how you plan to leave your business.

But don’t get confused! Every good business should always have an at the ready exit strategy as early as its own founding.

One of the reasons why an exit strategy is important is because potential investors will want to know what your long-term plans are for the business once you have a reached a certain level of success.

There are plenty of exit strategies available, but choosing one isn’t a simple task.

Take the time to research your options.  Review your startup business plan to narrow down what exit strategy suits your business’ interests better.

11. Appendix

A completely optional section of your startup business plan, but is recommended for further convenience of your investors.

Although you should consider this, it is not a part of the main body of your business plan.

The information outlined here you will not want everyone to see. These should be mainly for people (such as your investors) who would need a quick reference to your plans.

BOTTOM LINE

Building a business sure isn’t easy. Having a solid business plan will definitely lighten the load on what direction you want your startup business to go in!

There are still plenty of sources out there to help you write a business plan even further. So take the time to research and refine your business plan even more!

And there you have it! This brief rundown should be all you need to know to get yourself started on your startup business plan.

Like this article? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. Remember, if you need help with your business plan and how to write a business plan, we can help you with our business plan templates. Simply email [email protected] and we’ll send you the details. Good Luck!

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