In case you have decided that a particular type of business excites you to be in, then the first thing that must roll out even before you actually start to working on the business is the business plan. If you are wondering what a business plan is all about, it is nothing but a document consisting of several narrations and workings on your financials statements that might seem interesting. Let’s proceed to now looking at how we could go about developing a business plan template to smoothen the thoughts and ideas to a comprehensive tool to refer to before actually establishing the business.
The business plan template contains several sections that aims at providing intricate details in a way that you could expect your business to be established and glide through. Except for the executive summary you may choose any order that you believe is good and comprehensive. This business plan template may have many questions that you may either want to answer or skip to move forward depending on its relevance. When this continues your first level draft of your business plan may be out. These may come through as tiny essays on the various aspects related to the business plan. At this point try editing to make this document to be more narrative and smooth flowing.
The real test lies in actually researching and thinking in all those about the planned business in a more systematic and disciplined way to ensure costly mistakes and errors are avoided. The template we are to encounter in the subsequent part of this section is meant to be more generic and the individual is requested to make a rational judgement on the topics that best suits the need and priority of the end audience to whom it is addressed.
The business plan template goes like this:
1. Heading in a new page: Business Plan
Name of the Business
2. Table of Contents: This shall be a separate page that will list the contents that are to follow in this business plan template along the page number where each of these topics can be separated reviewed by the reader.
3. Executive Summary: This section could be completed at the end but needs to be placed at the start. This section can have details related to the proposed business and answer questions like: What my service/product is al about?; who are my customers? Who owns this proposed business and the future in store for this business and the industry sounding more energetic, professional, precise, concise and positive?
If the requirement is to raise funds through a loan then the information shall convey to the potential investor as to how much money is essential, how it is going to be used and how is this money going to generate profits to ensure repayment ultimately to the investor.
4. Company Description (General): This section of the business plan template details as to what business your company shall be in and what you plan to do as a business entity. This section shall contain the
- Mission: This is to be written to not exceed 30 words in length talking of the reason and the guiding principle for being in this business
- Goals & Objectives: Goals is about where you want your business to be and the objectives are those steps that mark this progress to achieving this goal.
- Your business importance: While conducting your business which is of importance to you shall be included in this part.
- Give an overview of the industry and the prospects of being there in it, how do see it as a long term aspect of being there and how you are likely to take advantage and excel.
- Also throw more light into your company’s strengths and core competencies that can aid in the success and as owners what you are all likely to bring to the table as experience, skills and other background information in those lines.
- Here specify the legal form the company is to be incorporated as. It could be LLC, proprietor, Private Limited, Corporation or any other that is applicable in that country where this establishment is to come up in addition to why you have chosen it that way.
5. Marketing Plan: The marketing plan section of the business plan template communicates the way you plan to market your product as any product/service no matter how good they are, this is vital information that has to be in place through careful market research. Spend a good amount of time on this as this is vital in backing your decisions on a later date. Market research happens through 2 ways: secondary and primary. The former method uses existing available data from newspapers, journals, census data, industry profiles and can be fetched online, in libraries, industrial associations or chamber of commerce and can be fetched through a particular fee paid to these associations or government agencies.
Primary research is collecting own data from real time observation, collecting sources of information about your competitors, conducting own focus groups or market research to learn about customer preferences. Wherever possible provide the numbers and statistics along with the source to back your research.
Bring in facts about the industry like size of the market, the share you plan to capture, the traction, trends and the growth potential. Talk about the entry barriers in terms of costs, production, marketing, shipping and all others that cannot bring someone straight on-board without certain aspects addressed. This is to be followed by how you plan to overcome the barrier. Also talk of things that can disrupt your business like technology, regulations, economy and the industry.
6. Product/Service: Describe about your product/service and detail the important features and benefits that will be provided by this product. Mention about the after sales support and service contracts that will facilitate this relationship with the customer.
7. Customers: Ask these questions who are my customers, what is their profile, where are they located and how do I reach out to them, the affordability of the product/service, where it is B2B or B2C that we are focussing on.
8. Competition: See what your competitors are doing and how their products are to compete with you. Benchmark this study of yours with your competitors.
9. Proposed location: Document the choice of your current location and why it is this place and the facilities that are to be available there and other businesses around it.
10. Distribution Channel: How is the product/service going to reach the customer, whether it is through the retail mode, catalogue, mail order, Agents, own sales force, Wholesale, bid on contracts.
11. Operational Plan: Spell out about the way the business shall operate daily, the people and the processes., how production shall happen, the techniques involved, customer service, quality control measures, Inventory control, Product development, the space requirements, the zoning, power and other utilities that will be involved, how accessible the area is, its proximity to the airport, harbour and other facilities. If possible attach a drawing lay-out of the space, include estimate of cost associated to the outright purchase, lease or rent of commercial usage space, cost to remodel if any, hrs. of operation.
12. Legal Environment: Provide information about the licencing requirements, insurance related requirements, and regulations governing the practice of this business, trademarks, copyrights and patents in place.
13. Personnel: The details pertaining to no. of employees, skill requirements, pay structure, methods to source employees, training requirements, job designations, contracts to be in place are provided here.
14. Inventory: What will your organisation have as inventory: raw materials, finished goods or both? The stocks and the average lead time to order and the rate of turn-over needs to be provided in this section.
15. Suppliers: Talk about the key suppliers involved in this process and the alternatives available, credit policies in place and the volume handling from each of them planned. This way the revenue to the company can be predicted.
16. Management & Organisation: Input who shall handle this business on a day-to-day basis and the experience that resource shall bring into this business and present an organisation chart providing the key portfolios to be held in addition to the professional and advisory support to be handled by this company.
17. Personal Financial Statement: This is about the assets and liabilities and the financial status of each owner and major stockholder to be involved in this business. Furnish sources of funds to come from them as well in this business.
18. Capital and Operating Expenses: Even before actually commencing operations a lot of start expenses are likely to be incurred. Indicate and capture all such heads so as to avoid surprises on a later date. Provide details as to how you came to arriving at this decision on this calculation.
19. Financial Plan: The financial plan consists of 12-month profit & loss projection, break-even calculation, projected balance sheet to estimate how your company will go in future financially.
20. Appendix: The final section in the business plan template is this appendix that has details like market research studies, assets available for collaterals for the loan requirement, photos/maps from location, articles and magazines that support your research and data, testimonials of past and future support from your customers.
All the above sub-heads make up for a decent good business plan and most often that no the time that is to be spent is on research as those who miss out on this regret on a later stage.