Your business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your firm’s resume. The basic components include a current and pro forma balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow analysis. It helps you allocate resources properly, handle unforeseen complications, and make good business decisions. Because it provides specific and organized information about your company and how you will repay borrowed money, a good business plan is a crucial part of any loan application. Additionally, it informs sales personnel, suppliers, and others about your operations and goals.

Plan Your Work

The importance of a comprehensive, thoughtful business plan cannot be overemphasized. Much hinges on it: outside funding, credit from suppliers, management of your operation and finances, promotion and marketing of your business, and achievement of your goals and objectives.

Despite the critical importance of a business plan, many entrepreneurs drag their feet when it comes to preparing a written document. They argue that their marketplace changes too fast for a business plan to be useful or that they just don’t have enough time. But just as a builder won’t begin construction without a blueprint, eager business owners shouldn’t rush into new ventures without a business plan.

Before you begin writing your business plan, consider four core questions:

What service or product does your business provide and what needs does it fill?
Who are the potential customers for your product or service and why will they purchase from you?
How will you reach your potential customers?
Where will you get the financial resources to start your business?

Writing the Plan

  • What goes in a business plan? The body can be divided into four distinct sections:
  • Description of the business
  • Marketing
  • Finances
  • Management

Addenda should include an executive summary, supporting documents, and financial projections.

Although there is no single formula for developing a business plan, some elements are common to all business plans. They are summarised in the following outline:

  • Elements of a Business Plan
    Cover sheet
  • Statement of purpose
  • Table of contents

The Business

  • Description of business
  • Marketing
  • Competition
  • Operating procedures
  • Personnel
  • Business insurance

Financial Data

  • Loan applications
  • Capital equipment and supply list
  • Balance sheet
  • Breakeven analysis
  • Pro-forma income projections (profit & loss statements)
  • Three-year summary
  • Detail by month, first year
  • Detail by quarters, second and third years
  • Assumptions upon which projections were based
  • Pro-forma cash flow

Supporting Documents

  • Tax returns of principals for last three years Personal financial statement (all banks have these forms)
  • For franchised businesses, a copy of franchise contract and all supporting documents provided by the franchisor
  • Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space
  • Copy of licences and other legal documents
  • Copy of resumes of all principals
  • Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc.