Your business plan is the blueprint for you and your key personnel to follow and a working document to measure your progress. No matter how small your business… it needs a written plan of action. If you plan to be successful, you need the stability and direction that a sound business plan offers. Talk to a dozen colleagues, and you’ll come up with a dozen different ways to structure a business plan. The following outline will give you some concept of the components of a strategic business plan:
- The Company… describe your business, expectations, overall objectives for the business and any other factors that will contribute to your success.
- The Market… this is the longest section of the business plan and the most critical. Define your market, spell out the marketing goals that you want to achieve for yourself personally and for the business within a specified period of time and discuss the particular strategies and tactics you’ll use to obtain your objectives.
- The Management Team… briefly describe each management position in the business, along with the names of the people filling each position and a summary of their qualifications. Discuss the skills and experience of your management team and how they will relate to the success of your company.
- Organization and Personnel… list the key staff people critical to the company. If you’re in the process of recruiting personnel, discuss the requirements of the vacant positions and explain how you intend to fill them. Finally, include an overall organizational chart for your company so everyone knows where they fit in and who is responsible for what area.
- Financial Data… spell out realistic financial projections for the next three to five years (monthly for the first two years and annually and/or quarterly thereafter). Most accounting software programs have financial projection programs associated with them or you can employ a host of spreadsheet programs to accomplish the same goal. As a word of caution, if you are doing these projections in house, always have your CPA firm review your projections for accuracy.
Moreover, it is important to remember that your successful business plan is valid today. There is no guarantee that it will continue to be successful given the changing business environment. Therefore, continually reviewing, modifying and re-conceptualizing your business plan is essential to your companies’ future success.