So often entrepreneurs are told they need a business plan. What is important and what is not so important? Let's dive into the basics of what you need to include in every business plan to receive the most benefit.
This article won't get into the specifics of each section of the business plan but is more of a general overview to keep in mind when starting.
What is your mission?
The business plan is all about setting goals and then understanding what you need to do to get there. Know what drives you and what is your true reason for taking on a risky endeavor such as starting a business.
What are you offering?
What are you really offering your market? Is it a product or service? Is it a feeling? How do your customers feel when they use what you are offering? Human emotions are the key to having repeat customers. There are many variables that go into the end result of the buyers resulting feelings. It can be as simple as customer support or maybe more elaborate like the feeling of opening a well packaged product.
What are your advantages?
In order to know your advantages you first need to know your market and competitors. Always do as much research as possible to understand where your competitors stand. Include their struggles and successes. Once you understand what they are doing, then you can begin to understand how you will stand out. It may be location, your skills, or a million other reasons.
Who is on your team?
Who is standing by your side and why will they stay through thick and thin? Investors are not just concerned about the CEO and their offerings to the market. The ability to keep growing and moving forward is so often tied to the strength of the team members. List your team members and their descriptions that will benefit the business.
Where do you stand financially?
Ultimately, a business plan and forecast will help you make better business decisions and prevent you from being forced to react when a crisis occurs. It is all about planning and using your resources wisely.
Cash flow is key. Know exactly how much cash you will have so you never run the risk of having to shut down your business. On a business plan, include a balance sheet and your net income statement. Try to have these as accurate as possible.