Establish your vision for the future of the company.

A business plan is essential to the long-term success of your business. It’s important because it actually serves as a compass for the direction your business will take in the future. Your business plan should include:

  1. Title Page –  This page should contain the following items, double-spaced, horizontally centered, and positioned just above the center of the page: Business Name, address, telephone number, and owner (s) name (s).
  2. Table of Contents – Should list the title of each section of the document and indicate the page number where each is located. This page is done last, since it requires the entire document as input. It allows the reader to quickly locate specific sections.
  3. Theme or Concept – Should be a one-page explanation of what your business will be like and why it will be the best of its kind. What are the unique qualities that sets your business apart from others who are competing for the same customers.
  4. Marketing Plan
    1. Target Market
      1. What needs does your business satisfy for the customer?
      2. When and under what circumstances will your customer come to your business?
      3. Describe how often you customer will come.
      4. How large is your target market?
      5. How many actual paying customers will you get from your target market?
      6. Define your ideal customer by age, gender, income level, education level, geographic location, occupation, leisure interests, buying habits, goals and aspirations.
    2. Competition
      1. Who are your competitors?
      2. Why are they successful?
      3. What substitutes are there for your business?
      4. What impact do the substitutes have on your business sales?
      5. What separates you from your competitors?
      6. Why should the customer leave competitors to choose your business?
      7. What percent of the market share do you expect to get?
    3. Location Analysis
      1. Describe your business location and how it enhances sales.
      2. What advantage do you have at this location?
      3. Is there opportunity for expansion?
      4. What are the neighboring businesses?
      5. Do they complement or detract from yours?
      6. Are building renovations needed? At what cost?
      7. What is the zoning?
      8. Is the neighborhood stable, changing, improving, deteriorating and how?
      9. How is customer access, parking, etc.?
    4. Price Determination – Describe the cost of your product compared to the value the customer will see.
      1. How do you compare to the competition?
      2. Why will customers pay your price?
      3. What image will the price project?
      4. What special advantages do your customers get that is included in the price?
      5. Will offer credit terms?
    5. Marketing Approach – Consider engaging a marketing/advertising firm for help.
      1. Do you have any helpful preliminary or test market results?
      2. How do you think customers will find out about your business?
      3. Do you have a desired brand image you want to convey to potential customers?
      4. What media are most suitable for reaching your customers?
      5. How will you evaluate the effectiveness of each advertising and promotional effort?
  5. Management Plan – Who will run the business and how will they do it?
    1. Management Team
      1. What business management background do you have?
      2. How will that experience help drive your business?
      3. How is the experience of key people related to this type of business?
      4. What legal form (corporation, sole proprietor) will you be?
      5. Who does what? Who reports to whom?
      6. What other resources are needed and who will provide them?
    2. Employee Relation – Describe your methods for hiring, training, and communicating with your staff.
      1. What are your personnel needs now? in the future?
      2. What skills will they require?
      3. How will you hire and train?
      4. What salary and benefits will you provide?
      5. How will you communicate wage increases to employees?
      6. What personnel policies will be provided to your employees?
  6. Financial Plan – Describe how your business will be financed and how you will maintain a sound financial condition.
    1. Current financial requirements
      1. How much money will be needed for starting your business?
      2. What will be the source of start-up capital (go into debt, equity, etc)?
      3. What business and personal assets will be pledged as collateral?
    2. Use of funds
      1. How will the money be spent (working capital, equipment, inventory)?
      2. How will borrowed funds make your business more profitable?
    3. Long-range financial strategies
      1. How will you pay back your investors?
      2. What terms of repayment are feasible?
      3. What back-up plan will be used if repayment cannot be accomplished as planned?
    4. Financial Statements – Required financial statements:
      1. Personal financial statement of owner
      2. Business start-up costs.
      3. Pro Forma cash flow analysis (expected).
      4. Balance sheet (proposed or actual).
      5. Income statement (proposed or actual).
      6. Capital equipment.
  7. Strategic Plan
    1. It is important to include a description of where you want to be in a few years and how you intend to move towards those goals. This plan should focus on the second through the fifth year and describe strengths within your business, weaknesses, opportunities open to you and your competitors, and threats impending you and your competitors. You should perform a SWOT analysis (strategies, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). The strategies should identify intermediate goals (yearly) and the marketing, management and financial resources that will be used to accomplish these goals.

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