What is a Business Plan?

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A business plan is a detailed plan that you submit when looking for funding, investors or partners. It gives others an idea of what your business will do and lets them know that you did your research. These plans often include an executive summary and separate sections that go over the amount of financial help you need, the amount of cash you have on hand and even how you will advertise your business. The plan should also carefully explain how your business will make money in the future.

What a Plan Should Include

Your basic business plan should start with an executive summary. This is a short statement that explains your overall business goals, the type of company you want to open and what your business will do. Each of the sections that follows should focus on another aspect of your business. One section should go over your operating costs and how much it will cost to get your business off the ground. Other sections cover the future growth of that business, the number of employees you need in the beginning, how you plan to advertise your company and what supplies or equipment you need.

Why Write a Plan?

Writing one of these plans is the best way to get information into the hands of prospective investors. Whether you look for angel investors, want to secure a small business loan or hope that friends and family will invest, you must provide them with a plan that shows them what you want and what they will get back. This simple plan can also help you stay on track in the future. You’ll have an idea of how much you want to spend on everything from supplies and employee salaries to equipment and rental costs.

Presenting Your Plan

While there are a few ways in which you can present one of these plans, you generally want a cover page that features the name of your company and any contact information you can provide, including a phone number, email address and physical address. Use a bold heading at the top of the page to indicate the executive summary. You can then indent the paragraphs below that statement. Use at least two lines between each section, and consider starting each new section on a separate page. Always used a bold font to let investors know which section they are reading.

Tips for Writing Your Summary

One of the most important parts of your business plan is the executive summary. It’s similar to your opening line or your thesis statement. If you grab the attention of readers in that first section, they’ll want to keep reading. The Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends that you include a mission statement, basic info about what your company does and some financial details in this section. According to the SBA, you should also include details about the products you sell or the services you offer. You can customize this section based on whether you need help with an existing business or a brand new company.

Related Resource: Small Business Advisor

Unless you have a large sum of money on hand, you may need help getting your business off the ground or financial help to keep your company afloat. Grab the attention of readers and make them want to invest in your company with an effective business plan.

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