It’s time for an in-depth series about the business plan format and what you have to be thinking about when you launch your business. A business plan writer can help you coalesce your thoughts and dreams into concrete information and facts which you can present to a lender or investor with confidence.
What your Business Plan Format Should be
Your business plan format should embody the following concepts:
- The Story: Your business plan should explain who you are, what you offer in the way of products or services when you can make a profit, where you are located, how you plan to attract and satisfy customers, and why you think your business is likely to succeed long term.
- The Presentation: A good business plan isn’t about style, number of pages font selection, or cover design, although all of these are important points when it comes to looking professional. Your plan should be above all, focused, clear, and easy to understand.
- The Goals: Your business plan should define specific business objectives and goals, including a timeline for meeting those goals, and include general parameters to guide your organization from the conception of your business through the planning stages to execution and success.
What your Business Plan Format Should not be
Your business plan format should never be reduced to the following:
- The Hodgepodge: A disconnected bundle of thoughts and ideas held together with bullet points is not a business plan. If you haven’t addressed the who, what, when, where, how, and why, you can forget about attracting investors or convincing a lender to back you.
- The Hype: A fitness routine demonstration or an elaborate puff of smoke may work on ‘Shark Tank’, but a serious banker or entrepreneur backer will want facts backed up by figures and statistics, not a bunch of fake guarantees and hyped-up promises.
- The Hopeful: A wistful approach begging for money isn’t the way to go. You need to layout a logical plan that convinces lenders that your company is certain to succeed based on a methodical progression of events.
Our next post will deal with the Executive Summary of your business plan and why it should be the first and last thing on your mind, as well as how a business plan writer can help!
How to Write a Perfect Business Plan Executive Summary
- Be one of the foremost things on your mind during the writing of your business plan
- Be written last, after your business plan has coalesced
- Provide a snapshot of your company, explaining who you are, what you do, and why in an enthusiastic manner
- Be less than 2 pages in length
There are three basic sections to your executive summary. You can draft a summary using these points, then refine it after you finish writing your entire business plan. This is where a professional business writer can come in handy!
Establish the Need or Problem
You are in the problem-solving business. Your product or service fills a need that people have.
Recommend the Solution and detail its value
This is not the place to talk about features. It is where you explain the value of your solution and its benefits (and potential money-making capability – in other words, what people will pay to have their problem solved).
Provide Proof of Projected Returns
You must give compelling reasons why your company is the right company to deliver the solution. Keep hammering away on how you solve the consumer’s problem, and use their name at least 3 times as often as you do your own – remember, it is all about the client.
After reviewing your executive summary, the reader should:
- Want to learn more about your product or service
- Feel they have gained a basic understanding of your company
- Believe that your data is accurate and trustworthy
Your executive summary is like a screenplay treatment; if the reader likes what they see, they will want to read more. Your business plan writer can help you craft the perfect summary to ensure your entire proposal is reviewed.
We’ve discussed the importance of your business plan summary, and how to attract angel investors. Now let’s take a look at the meat of your business plan.
Your Perfect Business Plan Description and Vision
This section is vital as it allows you to explain not only what your business is about but your projections for future success. It should include:
- Mission statement. This is a quick overview of your business purpose.
- Company vision. This is a concise statement about the projected company growth.
- Business goals and objectives. These should be laid out by your business pan writer in a logical progression.
- A brief history of your business. Explain how the concept came into being, and how your business has grown if your loan proposal is for expansion.
- List of key company principals. Any business should have principles that not only follow good ethics but abide by good business practices.
Your description should encompass all of the above and leave the loan officer reviewing it with a full understanding of
- Who the business is, what it stands for, how it proposes to grow, and when it will turn a profit, as well as why you need the loan.
- A complete overview of the company’s conception, growth & future potential.
- Specific goals and objectives of the business laid out in the bulleted form
- Background information about the company, including the personal history of any principals.
If all of the points are covered, your investor should have a comprehensive idea of exactly why you are the perfect investment, and you have a better chance of having your plan approved and securing a loan if your business plan writer takes note of all the above factors.
Perfect Business Plan
Who are you selling to, and why should they buy from you? This is one of the crucial questions your investors will ask, and you’ll need to come prepared with a strong and fully-thought-out answer.
This brings us to the next section of your business plan: understanding your market and your place in it.
Definition of the Market
There are several steps you can take to shape your thought process as you paint a picture of your market for investors. These processes become parts of the content in your perfect business plan.
- Describe your business industry and outlook. In this section, you need to provide an honest assessment of the health of your industry as a whole and where it is expected to be over the next several years. Rather than be solely focused on your own company, think big picture.
- Define the critical perceived or existing market. What areas are the most underserved or will be the most in need in the immediate future and over the next several years? How are you preparing your business to address those needs?
- Identify your target market. Who makes up your ideal target demographic? Is there any research regarding your potential client pool expanding or needing additional services in the coming months/years?
- Provide a general profile of your targeted clients. What characteristics best define the clients that you anticipate doing the bulk of your business with? By knowing your clients and their needs, you can demonstrate your ability to better serve them.
- Describe what share of the market you currently have and/or anticipate having. This portion of the business plan allows you to demonstrate where you currently are, where you are headed, and how you plan on maximizing all of the opportunities along the way and upon arrival.
After reviewing this section, potential investors should have a clear understanding of both the industry you operate in and the customer needs you are fulfilling, as well as who those customers are, the scope of your business market, and your share of it.
What Are You Selling
The description of products or services that you plan to sell should take up a small but vital part of your business plan. If you cannot convincingly sell the concept to your investors, it’s difficult to believe you can market the actual service or product to your target market.
Description of Products or Services
- The first paragraph should be used to specifically describe all of your products and/or services, as well as who each product or service is designed for are targeted towards.
- The second paragraph should clearly and comprehensively explain how are competitive with other similar offers – by price point, target market, and features/benefits.
- If applicable, you should reference a picture or brochure of your products, which your business plan writer should include in the plan’s appendix. Visuals are worth a thousand words, so be sure your images properly reference the benefits of your product.
After reviewing this section, your potential investor should know:
- Why you are in business including why people should buy from you and why you are likely to succeed (special benefits, niche target demographic, etc).
- What your products and services are and how much they sell for, as well as the long and short-term benefits and possibility of repeat business.
- How and why your products & services are competitive (will you be able to thrive in the face of competition? What do you offer that they do not?)
A well-written business plan will cover these issues in such a way that any investor or lender will feel confident that you can make a go of your business.