Whether you’re starting out a new business or your company has been in operation for some time, if you want to enjoy continued success for your venture, it’s important to always be thinking ahead.
Having a forward-looking approach to business can help you to prepare for what the future may bring and will give you the opportunity to make plans for helping the organisation to grow and thrive. One of the best ways to organise your thoughts about the future of the company and to plan for what lies ahead is to create a business plan.
A business plan is a description of your company – covering everything from what the company does, through to sales and marketing strategies, market analysis and financial information. To get the most out of your business plan, the document should provide solid information and plenty of detail, and you should be ready to re-visit it on a regular basis to see how real life is living up to the expectations of the plan, and make changes accordingly.
So, what should your business plan include? The contents of the document will vary depending on your company and what it needs – but here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
At the beginning of your business plan, you should include an overall summary of the document. This will serve as a brief outline to anyone reading the document, giving them a clear, yet succinct indication of what the business does, where it’s going and how it’s going to get there.
Success in business means understanding every part of your industry and careful market analysis will help you get to know your target audience, establish appropriate pricing, choose suppliers and decide on the best distribution and sales strategies. Your market analysis section should include things such as the size and structure of the market, as well as growth prospects, current and existing trends and sales potential.
This part of your business plan will explain how the various parts of your business will work. For example, it should include information about the type of business it should be and factors that will help to improve success. Information about the company’s organisational structure and management can also be included in this section.
Marketing and sales are major parts of any business and planning the techniques that you’ll use to connect with and sell to your clients is a must. This section can include details on the promotional activities you plan to take part in, as well and information on how you plan to find potential clients. It can even serve as an outline for how you plan to communicate with your customers – such as free conference calls, remote sales teams and online tools.
Description of products and services
While your list of products and services might seem obvious, actually writing them down can help you get a full understanding of your business. This list can also serve as a useful tool when it comes to setting prices or creating service packages.
It’s also a good idea to describe your products and services in detail. List the features and benefits of each item and be sure to establish your unique selling proposition – that is, what makes your offering different from the competition.
The money part of the business plan comes last, mainly because all of the elements before it will help you to better understand the financial aspects of your company. This section can include information about funding – how much you need and where you plan to get it from, as well as short, medium and long-term financial objectives.