SAMPLE BUSINESS PLAN AND BUSINESS PLAN TUTORIAL.
Many people enjoy the thrill of an adventure. They don't want to be bogged down by a business plan. The way I see it, starting a business is in itself such an adventure that a business plan helps you keep all your marbles.
When not to use a business plan
Although most experts recommend that you start with a business plan, you'd be surprised at how few of them had business plans right from the start.
In fact, many great entrepreneurs still operate without them.
If your idea is so great that you can't sleep, then forget the business plan for now. If you are confident that success is imminent, then don't plan it to death. Go for it.
You can also skip the business plan if you, like me, have no choice. For me it was swim or sink. Not much of a choice. Swim! Plan when you reach the shore.
When to use a business plan
If you are not 100% sure that your idea will work, if you have the time or if you need to attract outside financing, then there's no excuse. Don't think of it as extra work. A good business plan is an asset.
It forces you to think in different directions. It forces you to do research, to compare, to evaluate and finally to focus.
A business plan, no matter how good, is not a guarantee for success, but by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your business idea, you greatly improve your chances.
Sample business plan
Here is the format that I adopted for Pandecta Magazine's business plan. You are welcome to use it as an outline for your own.
1. Executive Summary
This should be about one page long. Describe the business in general terms.
Your mission. What do you want to achieve, where are you going and why do you think it will work.
- Purpose - explain in detail where you want to go with this
- History - a summary of important development highlights
- Critical Success Factors - what's going to make it work?
4. Business Environment
- Market - this is where your market research results go.
- Problems and possible solutions
- Expansion Potential
5. Description of Product or Service
- Unique Selling Points (Generally referred to as your USP)
- Benefits to the customer
- Current Problems and possible solutions
- Potential Problems and possible solutions
- Patents, Licenses, Copyrights etc.
- Production Strategy
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Other important documents
Apart from your business plan, you should also have the following documents ready - especially if you need to attract financing.
You can either incorporate them as headings into your business plan or treat them as separate.
The sub-headings under each are suggestions. You should add/delete sub-headings to fit your situation.
- Sales Goals
- Public Relations
- Economic Environment
- Industry Environment
- Customer Profile
- Marketing Channels
- Sales Tactics
- Marketing Calendar
- Management Team
- Support structures / advisory team
- Human Resources
- Facilities and Equipment
- SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)
- Growth/Expansion Plans
- Revenue Projections
- Break-Even Analysis
- Cash Flow Projection
- Balance Sheet Projection
- Financing Requirements
- Amount Needed
- Detailed Budget
- Repayment Options
- Schedule of Major Events
- Key-Person Resumes
- Financial History
- History of Sales
- Major Customers
- Customer Contracts
- Principal Suppliers
- Supplier Contracts
- Insurance Policies
- Bank Documents
- Advertising Sample
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Using your business plan
Treating the above documents as separate is usually best, because it makes updating them less time-consuming.
Yes, it needs updating. Your business plan is a tool.
This is very important.
If it is going to gather dust, stop here and go do something productive like search engine promotion. When you use your business plan, it becomes a map to the top.
If you're really in the mood for planning, create separate business plans for saperate purposes.
You could create one specifically for attracting investment. Another for the in-house running. In each you emphasize those aspects that are important to the people who will be using it.
In fact, it is quite common for businesses to have separate business plans for separate potential investors! Don't think of it as cheating. Think of it as emphasizing the points that particular investors would be more interested in.
When to stop planning
Planning for a couple of days or even weeks could be a good thing, but there is such a thing a too much planning.
You know you're planning too much when the fun and excitement of entrepreneurship becomes distant memories or when you spend so much time planning that it keeps you from actually implementing anything.
The idea is to plan properly without setting boundaries for yourself, then to implement your ideas without being bogged down by the initial plan.