How To Write Your First Business Plan
Your business plan is your guiding force as it helps you to clearly analyse and articulate what your business does, your business opportunities and your immediate and long-term actions and resources required for growth.
Executive and life coach Refilwe Khumalo says your business plan helps you to be strategic, to communicate and execute plans effectively and it holds your team together, ensuring that all partners, employees and investors fully understand your business vision, capabilities, resources, finances and objectives. “Your business plan also serves as your business progress tracker. Each time you achieve goals that were set or deviate from your initial strategy you have to go back to your business plan to amend it accordingly.”
Types of plans
Business plans can range from one page to over 30 pages, depending on the nature of the business and the purpose of the plan. There are many types of business plans ranging from:
- A simple business plan: This is a high level overview of your business summary.
- A lean business plan: A document, which indicates the plan to manage strategy, tactics, dates, deadlines, activities, and cash flow.
- Comprehensive business plan: Such business plans typically consist of three sections: business concept, marketplace and financial – and these are broken down into seven components that include the overview or summary of the plan, a description of the business, market strategies, competition analysis, design and development, operations and management, and financial information.
- Other business are usually very focused such as strategic plans, operational plans, internal plans, feasibility plans, annual plans, and growth or expansion plans.
Steps for writing your first plan
Keep it short
The aim of your first business plan is for investors to read it so ensure that it’s accessible and concise.
Know your audience
The tone and style of your business plan should be relative to the audiences you are writing it for. Write it in a way that speaks to investors and stay clear of technical jargon especially if the investors are not technical specialist in your market.
Your business plan should include the following:
1. Executive Summary
This is an overview of your business and your immediate and long-term actions plans. This summary should be between one to two pages.
2. Company Overview
This section provides a quick review of your company’s legal structure and location, as well as some background on the company’s history if your company is already an existing one.
3. Products and Services
What are you selling and how are you solving a problem or market need?
4. Target Market
Who are you selling to?
5. Marketing and Sales Plan
How are you going to reach your target market? What marketing and sales tactics are you going to use?
6. Milestones and Metrics
If you’ve accomplished some key milestones in the process of building your business, detail them here. Outline how you are going to measure success.
7. Management Team
Describe your current team and who you need to hire.
8. Financial Plan
Detail your financial forecast.
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