So you have a startup. Maybe you just have an idea of what you want your startup to be. Either way, you have a lot to worry about.
You have to meet with investors, recruit a team, and more.
But we are here to help. You need a business plan, but you probably don’t have the time to format one that’s well-constructed and thorough.
Writing a business plan is everything. It’s where you get down to the nitty-gritty of your business and flesh out every part of it from top to bottom.
Today, we give you a template to follow. Then, you can write up a business plan that will alleviate stress, give you more of an opportunity to succeed, and take on almost any business venture with a clear plan.
What is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a detailed guideline, or set of guidelines, that encourages your startup to take off, grow, and mature.
Your business plan outline should frame the essence of your brand. It should also show what you intend to do. More importantly, it tells you how you intend to do it.
It has many goals. However, the primary purpose of a business plan is to entice:
- Top talent
- Customers and clients
If you remember from earlier, we said that you might have an idea of what your startup is or should be. This is not a business plan. A business plan takes that idea and invests in it. It is the building block to get to where you want to be as a business.
Who Do You Need to Write a Business Plan For?
There are a lot of reasons to write a business plan. There are also a lot of people to write it for.
The main party you should write one for is yourself.
To put it simply, write one whenever you find yourself saying: “Give me the business!”
But let’s get into some more explicit business plan examples. Here are some scenarios when it might prove fruitful to draft one:
- When you need an investor, more funds, or a loan
- When you need a new partner, second-in-command, or higher-up to work with you
- When you need to hire and retain top talent
- When your growth becomes stagnant and you need a boost in revenue and progress
Think about it like this: an architect never starts a project for a new building without a solid blueprint. So why should you green-light a startup without one either?
A recent Quickbooks article cites some research:
- Those who have a business plan develop 30 percent faster than those who do not
- Business owners with a plan are twice as likely to have investors, loans, and progress than those without one
- Businesspeople with a business plan are 129 percent more likely to go farther than a startup
- Entrepreneurs with a business plan are 260 percent more likely to progress from an “idea” to a “new business”
Now, let’s get into the fun part.
Create Your Startup Business Plan
In light of all of that data, you should now realize that even a simple business plan for your business is a powerful tool.
Remember that it’s more than a business model or business ideation document.
We go through 10 steps to success. A successful business plan is a successful startup. It also leads to more confidence as a business owner and entrepreneur.
You can also use this template to understand if your startup is really even a good idea.
Inc. lays out some basic business plan goals. Here’s what your final product should accomplish:
- Be as unbiased as you can. Use objectivity to analyze your company. Do you have too much competition in the market? What is your monetary situation like?
- Act as a roadmap for the standard of operations. Can others within your business clearly follow that roadmap?
- Does your plan reflect your brand image and eventual goals?
Also, ensure that you create a business plan cover page. It should be a brief summary of your startup goals. Base it on the next 10 sections. We get into that as the last step.
Without further ado, let’s dive into our template.
Description of Your Business
The first step is crucial. You have to draft a description of your business.
What type of business do you have or want? Is it a construction company, an app, or retail? What products or services will you create and sell in that business?
Now, think about legality. Depending on what kind of organization you run, you will have different tax and legal requirements. Here are some examples of the various legal organizations:
- Sole proprietorship
- C corporations
- S corporations
Where are you located? Maybe you use a warehouse. You might work out of a home office. You need to provide a physical address for your business, the square footage, and whether you rent or own the space. Be specific. No detail is too small.
Next, look into licenses and/or permits. Do you have any? Do you need any?
Now, get into the basics of your employee base. Who owns it (including yourself)? What is the management team’s business plan? What kind of general employees do you have, what are their roles and how many are there? Keep this one short and to the point. You get into specifics later.
If you have a men’s retail startup, you might say that you offer men’s accessories and leather goods. You can then determine the kind of organization you run, whether you need an accountant, and the licensure it requires. This will vary. Then structure a hierarchy. You are the owner, you might have four managers and 15 sales reps.
Specify Your Products and Services
This is important for retail business planning in particular.
Otherwise, it is pretty much just what it sounds like. You need to identify and detail the products and services you offer. Keep in mind the detail part. You want to use detail to be sure that it’s clear what you sell relative to competitors. Too much detail, on the other hand, is confusing.
First, be general. What do you offer? If you own that men’s retail shop, you might say that you offer men’s accessories like we said above. But describe every product or service that you offer.
Also include the pricing. Will your prices fluctuate?
How will you get the products? Will you buy them wholesale or produce them yourself? Do you have any patents for them?
Most importantly, what are the benefits? Why do your customers need your product or service? How will it improve their quality of life?
Let’s say you sell a particular men’s hat. List the materials it is made of and a description of what it looks like. How do those two features translate to benefits? What does it cost for you to produce and what is the price for the customer?
Create Your Marketing Plan
If you have an idea for your startup, that’s only a part of the bigger picture. Marketing decides whether you will sink or swim.
Now it’s time to describe your target market.
- Who is your ideal customer? What are their buying patterns, personal characteristics, and unique perspective?
- Look at the demographics. What is their sex, location, education level, and income range?
You need to research here. Evaluate your competition. How are you different from them? What do they offer and why do you offer a better version? Scrape some data.
Also, evaluate your specific market. Where do you fit in? We get into more details later.
Your ideal customer and demographics for our men’s retail scenario should take into account a few things. They are probably males. They might live in the Pacific Northwest. They might have a bachelor’s degree. Maybe they make 75 thousand to 100 thousand dollars annually.
Sales and Marketing Strategy
Here, you can enact your market plan into a sales and marketing strategy. This is a vital part of your business plan structure.
The Balance Small Business provides some specifics. Here is what your marketing and promotion tactics should include:
- Three ways you can tell your target market that your products and services exist
- What kind of paid advertising do you want to use to promote them
- How you will use publicity to promote them
- How you will use the personal selling process to promote them
- What physical materials do you use to promote them
Make sure you budget accordingly.
To know if you will succeed, you have to know how others within your market succeed. Your marketing strategy depends on it.
When you analyze your rivals, note:
- How many competitors you have
- What their characteristics are
- The ways you differ from them
- How your products or services are better than theirs
Also, note your strengths and weaknesses and those of your competitors. Again, be as objective as possible. It will benefit you in the long run.
This includes how much they spend on advertising and the quality of their customer service. Keep in mind that you need to account for both current competitors and ones that pop up in the future.
There are three main components to your operations:
- Day-to-day operations
- Accounting and finance operations
- Computer and Technology
The purpose here is to help your customers, budget for company costs, and make sure your profits are appropriate.
With day-to-day operations, explain how your business will work every day. Consider your hours of operation, restock, and inventory process. What is everyone’s role?
For example, at the men’s retail store, you might be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every weekday and close at 9 p.m. on the weekends.
For accounting and financial operations, list payroll details and other monetary matters. How often do you pay your employees and vendors?
With computers and technology, lay out company software systems. Do you have a website? Who is in charge of that website? What company do you use for landline and Internet coverage? Do you use a restock app?
Create a Management Plan
Every part of your management team should be qualified. Your management plan has three tiers:
- Owners and directors
- Managers and employees
- Business advisors
Owners and directors are at the top of the food chain. They make all major decisions. This might include you and your business partner.
Managers and employees are probably the bulk of your company. A chart helps you know who goes where according to qualifications.
Business advisors are usually outside agents who help you succeed. For example, these include:
- Insurance agency
Account for who you already hired and who you still need to.
Financial Statements for Business Startup
Financial statements show you where you stand. They also show investors and banks where you stand as a startup. You probably won’t get financial help if you don’t have these documents in order.
These are some statements you must compile:
- Your past three annual tax returns
- A credit report
- A personal financial statement
- Your resume
There are also specific documents:
- Balance sheets
- Income statements
- Profit and loss statements
- Cash flow statements
- Break-even analysis
Appendix for Official Documents
Business plan writers have to live by the adage “Better safe than sorry.” That’s especially true if your startup needs financial help.
Create an appendix for official documents. This helps both investors and internal employees.
Here’s some of what your appendix should include:
- A table of contents
- Deeds and legal paperwork
- Patents and copyrights
- Membership documents
- Customer contracts and invoices
- Organizational charts
Create an Executive Summary
Above, we mentioned a business plan cover page. This is also known as an executive summary.
When you write a cover letter for a job, employers look at that first. Think of your executive summary in the same way. It should be one page at most.
Include in your summary:
- Your company information
- A very brief description of your products and services
- Your business’s mission statement and overall purpose
- Who your target market is
- How you differ from your competition
- What you need financially
- Your profit analysis
Be detailed throughout your entire business plan. Don’t leave anything out.
We know that a comprehensive business plan is hard, especially when you have so many other duties that come with a startup.
That’s why we’re here to give you answers and support at Selling Revolution. We develop unique selling solutions for you every step of the way. Whether you are an established company or a startup, we know that you have the potential to be great.