Top tips for writing your startup business plan
Depending on who you ask, the idea of starting a company will likely either fill the individual with dread or unbridled excitement. Certainly, the idea of being your own boss, choosing hours that suit you and taking greater control over your destiny might sound appealing, but for a business concept to succeed, it takes considerable planning and strategizing – which possibly explains the equal fear at going it alone.
Writing a comprehensive business plan is perhaps the best way you can study your underlying business concept, identify potential risks/rewards and verify its chances of success. Where the idea of writing a business plan is viewed by many startups as unnecessary or slightly antiquated, in truth, spending time crafting a comprehensive roadmap for your business will offer you unrivaled insight and help verify the legitimacy of your idea.
The key parts of a well-written business plan
Writing a business plan will let you get fully under the skin of your business concept and will help you identify potential pitfalls plus areas for growth. Perhaps unwittingly, you will also perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on your business – still one of the most useful business tools for any company, no matter of size or operating sector.
While all business plans vary from one another – and the emphasis you place on particular sections will likely change depending on the type of firm you hope to start – below are a few of the key sections you should include that will help you study your concept in greater depth.
Executive summary: Many would argue the executive summary is the single most important part of any business plan. Certainly, it will prove to be so if you’re hoping to attract any inward investment when you’re starting out. The executive summary should provide a succinct overview of the sections that follow below. As a guide, you should look to include shortened details of your growth projections, anticipated financial requirements (inc expected profits), the products/services you intend to supply, company info (directors, staff, etc), as well as a mission statement outlining your goals.
Company description: Here you can go into greater depth on the Unique Selling Points (USPs) of your firm, plus include a short description of your products/services and how they will plug a gap in the existing market.
Current market analysis: In this section, you can go into greater depth of how your intended market operates – plus the opportunities and threats that exist. Here you should outline your pricing structure, any specific sectors you want to target, and how you can stand out.
Management/staff/organization: You should detail how the company is going to be structured, plus identify any particular skills or staff members you’re going to need to bring on board.
Your intended goods and services: Before selling, you’re going to need to have a product or service, so you should use this section to show how you intend to source or produce these items. For example, if you were starting a jewelry company, you could show you already have a metal/engraving facility like cdocast.com.
Marketing: A business can’t survive without customers, so you should work out exactly how you’re going to attract clients and win new projects or generate sales. In the modern age, this should include ideas for social media, your website, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), etc. Financial projections: Often, this can be the hardest part of a business plan to formulate – particularly for startup SMEs that might find it difficult to create profit projections. Try to keep your figures as realistic as possible and base them on worst-case rather than best-case scenarios.