Marketlend Academy: Why You Should Write A Business Plan for Your SME Before You Start
Are you thinking about getting yourself out there and finally starting a small business of your own? You’ll need a business plan.
What’s a business plan?
In the simplest terms, a business plan is simply an outline of what your goals are for the small business, and how you plan to go about accomplishing them. Some people refer to it as a vision for your business. We like to refer to it as a road map to accomplishing your goals.
How small the business does not matter that much, coming up with a comprehensive outline for your business is definitely the best way to start. Same as you cannot build a house without a blue print, you shouldn’t start a small business without a business plan.
Your business plan is supposed to be very clear and precise, defining the essentials but kept simple. It should be a written document and will be a tool you will return to again and again in managing the business as it grows.
A plan should include the following (but it’s not limited to these):
1. Executive Summary.
This should be the very first thing you do when coming up with a business plan for your small business. Generally, you are providing answers to questions you would have had developed in a five-minute interview (imagine someone interviewing you or, better, actually have someone you know interview you and write notes). Give a detailed description of the business. What’s the deliverable or product, who are your customers and what is the path to get them.
You should make this executive summary as enthusiastic as possible, while keeping it concise with a fine touch of professionalism.
If you intend on seeking a loan, make it clear how much money you need and how the money will be used.
2. Business Description.
Here you are going to tackle your small business’ mission statement, its legal form of ownership, its objectives and its key offerings.
In a nutshell, you will be describing the business as a whole. Here, you may also want to talk about your strengths, competencies, why you think your small business will succeed, the experience and skill you are going to be bringing to this new venture.
3. Marketing Analysis/Strategy.
It is here that you are going to justify your sales forecast. Base it on market research. Basically get your hands on as much information as possible (surveys, industry data, media reports, etc.). Consider doing your own hands-on research with potential customers in do-it-yourself focus groups. There is nothing like getting real opinions from real people. Your aim should be to make it clear that your small business is viable and that the sales forecast made are reasonable.
This is also the part of the business plan where you do an in-depth research about your competitors so you can come up with a better strategy of surpassing them. Every business has a competitor or will have one soon.
Determining your physical location in your business plan is very important as it tells a lot about operational realities, consumer traffic, marketing landscape, etc.
4. Management and Operations.
It has been noted that one of the major reasons behind businesses falling is poor management. In this section of the business plan, you will make sure you state clearly your management qualifications and the structure itself. You may want to attach the resumes of the people involved. The success of any company also depends on its ability to recruit, train and retain quality employees. Take some time to consider if you need full-time, part-time or Gig economy help.
In this section of the business plan, you are going to attach any information which you were not able to make fall under the other above mentioned sections. Be creative here and use this as a catch-all for additional ideas. You never know what additional thoughts and concepts can come in handy.