10 Steps to a Successful Business Plan

Today we have a special guest post from Cami Hughes from CreditDonkey!

10 Steps to a Successful Business Plan

Starting a business is an exciting adventure. However, when things start falling apart, money goes away and the novelty wears off, starting a business may not seem like such a hot idea after all. A plan will serve as a written outline as well as guide on how to organize your business venture. In order to protect your capital investment of both time and money, use this 10 step business plan to help ensure your success.


Step 1: The Mission

The first section of your plan, known as an executive summary, should include a mission statement describing the intent of your business. The mission statement can be as short as a single sentence or as long as a paragraph. Along with the mission statement, include these other important facts:

  • Date the business started
  • Names of owners or founders
  • Number of employees
  • Location of business (including subsidiary locations, even if out of house)
  • Description of location
  • Plan of services or goods offered
  • Basic summary of future plans for expansion or growth
  • Basic summary of where initial money is coming from

Step 2: Who Are You?

Get down to the nitty-gritty in this section. Talk specifics about each area of your business. Ask yourself a few of the following questions and include the answers within your plan :

  • What type business are you starting? (Product or service based business)
  • What industry or category does your business fall under?
  • What is the status of your business? Is it a start-up, expansion, take-over or renovation?
  • What form will your business take? Limited Liability Company (LLC), Partnership or Corporation?

Step 3: And What Do you Do?

In this area, discuss the purpose of your business. Include what types of products or services you plan to sell. Talk about the features and specialty areas that make your product unique. Discuss how your business will make these offerings desirable to your target market.

Step 4: Your Niche (i.e. Market Analysis)

Describe your ideal market. Include specific details about distinguishing characteristics of the people you plan to sell to. Demographic information should include :

  • Age, gender and general lifestyle of the targeted market
  • The general size of your primary market
  • Purchasing trends of your market

Additionally, information on how you plan to reach your market through media and marketing should be included. List the resources you plan to use to let people know about your business.

Step 5: Your Competitors

Know your competitors. Just like finding your target market, you should know as much as possible about your competitors and their offerings. Describe the products and services of each competitor that is similar to your offering. List their sales and profits; how your business will be different than theirs? Include the size and proximity each competitor is to your business.

Step 6: Management and Organization

How do you plan to create your product or service? In this section, write a strategic plan discussing the organization of your business. Discuss the employee hierarchy and the management team. Discuss the details on how much each employee will be paid and what their specific job duties are. List the actual process needed to create the finished product or completed service your business plans to offer.

Step 7: Sales and More Sales

In order to make a profit, you need a specific sales plan. Add the definitions of the following :

  • The cost of each service or product
  • The plan for growth or expansion for each product
  • The strategy on how your business plans to make a profit.

Figure out how your sales team or representatives will find prospects and include the details on how they will sell the product or service to each product.

Step 8: The Upfront Dough

Even the smallest businesses need some sort of capital. In this section you should detail how much money will be needed to start your business. Ask yourself these questions.

  • How much capital do I need?
  • Where will the capital come from?
  • Does the money need to be repaid? When?
  • How much interest will accrue on a loan?
  • What will the money be spent on?

With an organized plan, investors are more likely to give out money. Start-ups with a couple of ideas scratched on a piece of paper do not look nearly as attractive as those who have done the careful research on how to make a business and product successful.

Step 9: Making the Dough Rise (Forecast Financials)

A description on the financial projections of your business will help potential partners or investors make a decision on whether or not to take part of your company. You should include :

  • A table describing your projected sales and growth within a given time frame
  • How long it will take your business to reach a break-even point
  • A description of your businesses credit and debt policies

Estimate at least six months to a year’s worth of monthly sales. If something happens and you have a slow month or two, how will you cover the costs? Consider opening a line of credit or business credit card for your business to cover unforeseen circumstances. You should be able to demonstrate in this step how your business will generate its own money to repay loans and when it will successfully survive on its own.

Step 10: Appendix

This last step should include information that potential partners or investors would have questions about. Some examples include :

  • Your credit history
  • Blueprints or photographs of the business location
  • Details on management team
  • Photographs of products
  • Legal documents

Congratulations! You have taken a solid and professional step forward in furthering your business idea.

Cami Hughes is a social media advocate helping entrepreneurs find business credit cards for new businesses at CreditDonkey.  Remember, you plan should be a work in progress. Make amendments and changes to adapt to the needs of your market.