Your business plan is an important management, planning and finance tool. It provides the road map of how you intend to implement your business idea.
Investors will be interested in your business plan. So will staff and other stakeholders who are responsible for implementing the plan. The business plan used as a management tool is more detailed in the operations than the business plan used to seek financing which would be more detailed in the financial projections. There are no two businesses that are exactly the same. So, even though there are numerous business plans online, they no more than serve as a guide. You eventually still need to think through and implement a business plan that will be unique to your business.
The key standard areas of a business plan include;
1. The executive summary; 1-3 pages summary of the whole business plan. This part of the business plan though it comes first is written last. In this section also cover the
- Product or service and its advantages
- Opportunity in the market
- Track record to date
- Summary of Financial projections
- Funding requirements and expected returns.
- Founders & Management
- Board of Directors/Board of Advisers
2. Your Story; This one aspect of a business plan is often overlooked. It highlights the reason for your commitment; the why and how you came into the business. This often will determine how much trust and goodwill you will attract. It helps readers relate with you and buy into your mission. It causes alignment with partners and keeps away people who have contrary agendas.
3. Business Description; this is a brief description of the business. How large it is from industry perspective in a couple of paragraphs. It should be succinct and explain what the business does to make money i.e. the business model. Ensure you define the business in a single declarative sentence within this section. Describe the pain of the customer (or the customer’s customer). and outline how the customer addresses the issue today, and your value proposition: how your solution is the best for your target customer.
In this section you also outline your Business Model before expounding on the different aspects of the model as is necessary to build up the business case.
4. Marketing & Marketing Strategies; this exercise helps you define your target market. It covers a description of how you will promote and take your product to market so your target market is aware of the products and services and buys them. In this section also cover;
- Revenue model
- Average account size and/or lifetime value
- Sales & distribution model
- Customer/pipeline list
5. Competitive Analysis; here you get to define who your competition is, their business model and how they are differentiated. Your competitors may be companies in the same business or producing products that are an alternative to your product or service.
6. Design and Development Plan; here you will discuss how you intend to design and build the product while highlighting the unique characteristics of your development plan. Cover product line-up (form factor, functionality, features, architecture, intellectual property etc).
7. Operations; this section covers the different logistics of the company. Make a point of highlighting the critical operations around customer relationships and managing customer attrition.
8. Financial Plan; covers the financial aspects of the company. This section is normally at the back of the business plan and covers;
- Balance sheet
- Cash flow
- Cap table
- The deal
Your financial plan should not only state how much is required but when it is required and how the money will be paid back. By showing projections that include expenses to as much detail as you can envisage, one should be able to come up with financial projections that are as realistic as possible though they may never be perfect or exact.
The different sections of the business plan may be titled differently or further sub-divided depending on the uniqueness of your business, industry lingo and key success factors in your business /industry.
Often, writing a business plan for oneself can be difficult because you may not ask the right and most crucial questions. There's also the fact that you are viewing the business from the inside and may not be objective. A business coach or adviser can help you go through this effectively. Use the form right to request for one or post a comment below.
Synergy4Africa offer business plan writing services separately or as part of our Executive Business Presentation Box Services.
If you would like Synergy4Africa to help you with your business plan, send us a message using the contact form right.