Run a Small Business? Here’s What to Include in Your Business Plan

A business plan can help your business with having better prioritisation, control and assist in gaining finance. The plan will enable you to outline the businesses’ direction, objectives, strategies and goals.

Before writing the plan

Before you begin to write your business plan, it is important to evaluate yourself and your business and the respective ‘positions’ you are in at the moment. Be honest with yourself as this will aid in adequately structuring your business plan. Remember that a business earns money while a hobby costs money.

Business Plan – Summary

Firstly, you need to create your business plan summary, it should not be longer than approximately a page. The business plan summary will outline and focus on why your business is going to be successful.

Start with information about your business such as:

  • Business name, structure, location and owner
  • ABN, ACN
  • The date the business was established
  • Relevant owner experience
  • Products and/or services produced/provided by the business

Then, outline the market for your business:

  • Target market: Who are you selling to? Why would they buy your products/services over others?
  • Marketing strategy: How do you plan to enter the market? How do you intend to attract customers? How and why will this work?

Furthermore, lay out the future for you business:

  • Vision statement: The vision statement briefly outlines your future plan for the business. It should state clearly what your overall goals for the business are.
  • Goals and Objectives: What are your short & long term goals? What activities will you undertake to meet them?

Business Plan – The finances

In this section you will need to answer the following questions:

  • What amount of profit does your business intend to make within a particular timeframe?
  • How much money will you need upfront?
  • How will you obtain these funds?
  • What portion of funds will you be obtaining from external sources?
  • How much of your own money are you contributing to the business?

Business Plan – The organisation chart

An organisation chart lays out the organisation of your business. Firstly, start off by outlining the management and ownership of your business.

Some questions to ask are:

  • Will you be running the business or will a CEO be running the business on your behalf?
  • What will be your involvement?
  • If the business is a partnership, briefly outline the percentage share, role in the business, the strengths of each partner and whether you have a partnership agreement in place?
  • What experience do the owners have?
  • How many years have you owned or run a business?

Key personnel in business include marketing/sales managers and office managers. As such, you will need to outline your recruitment options, that is, how do you intend on obtaining your required staff? Furthermore, does your business require training programs? Are there any training programs you will be organising in the event you cannot find the required skills? Finally, outlining your skill retention strategies includes the procedural documents you will provide to ensure the skills of staff are maintained, the allocation of responsibilities and how they are documented and communicated to staff.

Products/Services

Moreover, outlining the products and/or services of your business is important in addressing the following topics:

  • Market position: Where do your products/services fit in the market?
  • Unique selling position: How will your products/services succeed in the market where others may have failed?
  • Anticipated demand: What is the anticipated quantity of products/services your customers are likely to purchase?
  • Pricing strategy: Do you have a particular pricing strategy? Why have you chosen this strategy?
  • Value to customer: How do your customers view your products/services?
  • Growth potential: What is the anticipated percentage growth of the product in the future?

Innovation

Furthermore, planning your business’ innovation includes outlining your research and development activities and your intellectual property strategy.

  • Research and Development Activities: What R&D activities will you implement to encourage innovation in your business? What financial and/or staff resources will you allocate?
  • Intellectual property strategy: How do you plan to protect your innovations? Do you have confidentiality agreements in place?

Legal considerations

Importantly, consider what legislation will have some impact on the running of your business. For example:

  • Consumer Law: involves all of the regulations and statutes that seek to create a more equitable balance for buyers in the marketplace and prevent sellers from using dishonest tactics.
  • Business Law: the body of law that applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of persons and businesses engaged in commerce, merchandising, trade, and sales.
  • Specific legislation to your industry

Conclusion

Whether you’re just tarting a small business or exploring new avenues to expand an existing one, business plans are an essential tool in guiding your business decision making process. Business plans act a a roadmap for success, they provide clarity for all aspects of your business.

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