Researching a plan for your business can be trickier than you might imagine. At first glance, you will notice that you need some pertinent information to execute your schedule correctly.
Some of this information will include:
- financial projections for your business
- operation costs
- market analysis
- sales information
- product lines, including marketing samples
Obtaining that information and organizing it to make a case for convincing investors can be intimidating. A research outline is a great place to start when writing a business plan for your startup.
Your outline should be divided into organized sections. From this, it will be easy to keep your business plan's financial and logistical aspects organized. Think of a business plan as a machine with many moving parts—just like your startup.
How to Organize Your Business Plan
Traditionally there are about seven different sections of a business plan. Stick to these categories to make sure you cover all the basics of your business and what you will need from your potential business partners. This will give you some direction regarding precisely what you will be researching and how each component relates to your business and one another.
Traditional business plans use some combination of these seven sections:
1. Executive summary
You will need to describe your company briefly and why it matters to your reader. When you are researching your executive summary, consider the information in your company's mission statement, product, or service, as well as basic information about the leadership team, personnel, and location.
If you intend to seek funding, you should also look up financial facts and high-level growth objectives before you begin writing.
Think specifically about hard-pressed numbers and recorded goals that your business has successfully reached, and consider the future ones you are planning to reach. Look at projected financial statements for this information and talk to your business partners.
2. Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful
You will want to provide thorough information about your company in your description. Go into great depth in your research regarding the issues that your company solves. Make a list of the customers, organizations, or enterprises that your company intends to serve.
Describe the competitive advantages that will help your company succeed. Do you have any experts on your team? Consult them about your competitors.
This is also the section of your company description where you can brag about your accomplishments.
3. Company description
You'll need a solid grasp of your industry's prospects and target market. Competitive research will reveal what other companies are up to and what their strengths are. Look for trends and themes in your market research.
What are the strategies used by successful competitors? What makes them so effective? Is it possible for you to do it better? Now is the moment to respond to these inquiries.
4. Market analysis
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Instead, your plan should vary and evolve to meet your specific requirements.
This section's purpose is to discuss how you'll attract and keep customers. You'll also explain how the sale will take place. Make sure to thoroughly examine your complete marketing and sales tactics and how much they will cost in this part because you'll refer to them later when making financial estimates.
5. Organization and management
In your business plan, you will need to inform your reader how your business will be run and who will be in charge.
You will need to describe your company's legal structure. For example, for US-based entrepreneurs, indicate whether you've formed or intend to form a C or S corporation, a general or limited partnership, or whether you're a sole proprietor or a limited liability company (LLC).
Use an organizational chart to show who in your company is in charge of what departments and responsibilities. Demonstrate how each person's unique experience will contribute to the venture's success. Consider incorporating the resumes of essential members of your team.
Research the way your company is set up and be very precise in reporting numbers and other facts about your company. You will want to make sure you are representing the hard work of you and your team in a precise and accurate way.
6. Service or product line
Describe the products or services you provide. Describe how it helps your consumers and how the product life cycle works.
Next, share your intellectual property strategies, such as copyright or patent filings.
Finally, explain in detail what you're doing for your service or product's research and development.
7. Financial projections
This is where you will lay down your financial requirements if you are seeking funding. Your goal is to make it clear how much money you'll need over the next five years and what you'll do with it. In your research, you should include where you plan to get your funding and what percentage you will be gaining from investors.
Indicate if you would prefer a loan or equity, the terms you would like to apply, and the duration of your request. Give a clear account of how you intend to use your finances. For example, indicate whether you require funding to purchase equipment or supplies, pay staff, or cover certain expenses until revenue grows. Always include a description of your long-term financial goals, such as debt repayment or the sale of your company.
Financial predictions should be included in your grant proposals. Plan accordingly so you can articulate your plans during meetings and discussions regarding your company's future.
A Thoughtfully Organized Business Plan Can Take You Far
Be intentional when you are writing and organizing your business plan. Get outside opinions and utilize ya mentor for feedback. A mentor is a great resource for guiding your research and reviewing your business plan.
With the guidance of your mentor, you can feel confident presenting your business model and explaining your objectives to potential partners, clients, and funders.