This is one of the first questions any investor will ask you about your business plan. Have your answers ready:. You need to identify the people who will buy from you. Think about the following:. Successful businesses think big. So write down the possible opportunities for your business as it grows. How will people find you online? Will you need salespeople? If not, how will you convince people to buy from you? As the business grows, is there scope for a bricks-and-mortar retail outlet?
What other opportunities will you have if your business grows as planned? Every business has competition. Be thorough, and list all your existing and potential competitors:. That last point is important. You need to explain how your business will differentiate itself from all the others.
That might be based on price, service, quality, range or value. Make sure you spell it out. All business plans should contain some financial information. This should include the overall costs of setting up your business. For example:.
Good accounting software will help you create a draft financial model. For now, talk to your accountant or bookkeeper for help and advice. Put your vision to one side for a moment. What are the daily tasks that need to be done when running the business?
Include all business processes such as manufacture and packaging. Try to cover all departments too, including sales and customer service. This is one of the most important factors. Think about who you want to hire. How will you find people whose skills complement yours?
And how will you convince them to work for you? Also think about who you want as your business advisors. You'll need people you can trust, to guide and mentor you at times when you need it. Keep it simple. A business plan should be brief, relevant and focused you can use our free business plan template. If you find yourself getting carried away while writing, stop and take a break. Shorter is better. The core of a good business plan should be just a few pages long. As you write your business plan , keep in mind your strengths — and also any areas for improvement.
This will help you construct a plan that makes the most of your abilities, while still being realistic. That's more likely to convince investors that you're serious. Your business plan is a roadmap for your business — but it's not set in stone. Review it at least once a year and make changes if necessary.
Above all, keep getting feedback from your advisors — official and unofficial ones. With their help, you'll create the perfect business plan that takes you where you want to go. You're on the site. Xero homepage Beautiful business. How to create the perfect business plan in 10 steps Small Business Guides 6 min read. Every business needs a plan.
Your business plan will keep you focused and help convince investors to lend you money. But how do you write the perfect business plan? Here are 10 steps to help you get it right. Why do you need a business plan? There are many good reasons. Here are just a few of them: To clarify your ideas Writing something down gives it structure and substance. Describe the ownership structure.
For existing businesses: include financial statements from the past five years and a monthly cash-flow forecast covering at least 12 months. For start-ups: include projected financial statements for the first three years of operation and a monthly cash-flow forecast covering at least 24 months. Describe your product or service and what makes it marketable.
Watch: Three Farmers: 5 lessons to take your product from field to shelf. Read: FCC Economics sector and production reports. Describe the potential size of your market. It helps to include popular market trends and customer profiles. Identify primary competitors within your target market. List their strengths and weaknesses compared to yours. Describe your marketing plan and distribution channels. Include the steps for attracting and retaining customers if applicable.
To learn more about how we do this, visit our policy. Email to a friend. Message Max character limit Cancel Send Close. One-page executive summary Briefly explain your business vision. Download: Sample business plans and templates 2.
In this section, it's time to get specific and detail what product or services you're developing and what customers you're targeting. Include a brief history of your company and mention any top-level talent you have aboard to get your company off the ground. In this section, you'll detail the marketplace you'll be competing in. Where are the best opportunities in your market? What is the marketplace? Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
What is the leading marketplace product or service and what are you doing to improve on the leading products or services? Financing companies want to work with differentiators, and they'll want to know what separates your business from the pack.
Here's the place to tell them exactly that. How will your company operate i. How will the company be structured legally? What is the management hierarchy? Who has ownership of the company and at what percentage? These are the primary questions you'll need to answer in the company organization section of your business plan.
What will your company produce and how will it benefit customers? What kind of research and development have you already put into your company and what results are you getting - and expecting? Also, how will you market your product or service to customers? These are the questions you'll need to answer in this section. In this section, you'll need to lay out your financial projections for your company.
If your company is already up and running, list any income statements and cash flow numbers for the past several years, if possible. Do you have any loans outstanding? What does your balance sheet look like? What are your quarterly projections going forward? Company funders consider this the most important section of your business plan, so be thorough and as accurate as possible in presenting financial data to your readers - they'll be pouring over every word and every digit to judge whether there's a good business opportunity here or not.
Close your business plan with a pitch for funding, and list any supporting data, graphs and charts that bolster your pitch. Make it clear what you're looking for financially from financiers - equity, a partnership or a loan. Provide a ballpark estimate of the funding you need and make it clear whether you're open to a negotiation. A company that knows how much money it needs will be taken as a serious one, and will be treated as such by funders and financiers.
The best business plans cover the most ground in the least amount of time. Aim for the three "C's" in developing your business plan - provide clarity, be concise, and be compelling. There's really no need to start your business plan from scratch. Use a solid online business plan like LivePlan, which walks you through the creation of your entire business plan.
Find great examples of industry-specific business plans at online sites like Bplans or LivePlan. Don't "oversell" your company with inflated financial projections and pumped-up sales figures. Starting a business plan begins with the first step. When writing a business plan, you must determine who will be reading it.
This decision will shape the business plan. Do you plan to go for debt or equity financing? Each form of funding for your business has pros and cons. For instance, the venture capital market can be very time consuming and competitive. Do you have the time to write the business plan for investor funding and to network within the community? Writing a business plan for investors is pages with in-depth analysis and full details of facts and figures to support assumptions of the market.
Writing a business plan for the bank is pages and focused with the bank's concern with risk. A venture plan presents the upside and potential return on investments, whereas a bank plan reduces the risks and sells the ability to repay the loan. A business plan outline is the second most important starting point once you've pre-determined your audience.
The business plan outline should be prepared before the actual research and writing of the business plan. Once you have made the decision of the type of funding your business requires, it is time for the research. Business plan research covers several key areas:. The easiest way to go about collecting all your experiences, interviews, and research is to create files for each section of the business plan. These files can be: paper-based, computer files or set-up using business planning software.
As you start the research and collection phase of planning, fill your files with notes and printouts. Begin the research process with an overview of the industry; uncovering industry and association reports. By having a general understanding of the industry, you will avoid embarrassment in contacting experts with basic questions. Begin the field research once you have a good grasp of the industry fundamentals and need answers to the hard-to-find information. Once the bulk of the data has been collected, the process of analysis begins.