When creating a business plan, it’s not always necessary to write the whole thing in one go. In fact, sometimes it’s more beneficial to create a business plan outline, highlighting the key elements of your business, and filling in the remaining gaps as you go.
The advantage of creating a business plan outline first is that you can jump straight into the action, rather than spend too much time writing the logistics. Whilst having a detailed, coherent plan is always advisable, a good outline enables you to continue working ‘in’ the business while you work ‘on’ it.
Here is a brief overview of a business plan outline:
The business summary is the most important part of your business plan as it states exactly what your business is about, and how you plan to succeed. It’s important to grab the attention of potential investors from the outset to ensure they’ll carry on reading. Things to include in your business summary are your business goals and mission, your keys to success, what problem your business solves, and what your benefits are.
In your business plan outline, you should include an industry analysis to understand the positioning of your business in relation to other organisations in the same market. It’s important to look at what your competitors are doing, what the current state of the industry is, and what the key market trends are. You might look at industry research and whitepapers to define this, as well as market publications and competitor blogs.
The customer analysis section of your business plan outline helps you to identify exactly who your customers are, including personality traits and their shopping behaviour – this is your customer profile. It’s also helpful to define how many customers you hope your business will have, as well as the expected growth potential. Customer research is key in helping you determine your predicted customer base.
Although a section on your marketing plan is essential in your business plan outline, it doesn’t have to be set in stone. Marketing plans are constantly changed and reworked depending on the results, or what the aim and purpose is. However, your marketing plan should include what your product or service is, what features and benefits it offers customers, what your USPs are, and how you plan to market and sell your business.
Your business plan outline should discuss the management plan of your business. The management plan covers the operational duties of your employees, how many employees you plan to hire, what their salaries will be for the first two to three years, and what it will cost your business. Within your management plan, it’s also important to mention an overview of your day-to-day operations, showing how your business will run.
Your financial plan:
Lastly, a financial plan must be evident in your business plan outline. In your financial plan you should show three years worth of projected financial statements, including income, loans, monthly and annual cash flow, and pro-forma balance sheets.
If you would like more helpful tips on planning your business, call the Focus7 team for a no obligation chat on 01462 262020, or simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.