A business plan is valuable during various stages of business’ development.  Business plans are particularly useful during the startup phase but also valuable to help guide a business expansion. While there is no official format for a business plan, there are many items that should be covered including marketing, legal, staffing, and financial realities.  In addition, business plans have a variety of uses ranging from simply detailing the business’ operations to seeking financing or attracting investors.  Whatever form or purpose the business plan takes, there are 3 things every business plan needs.

1. Every Business Plan Should Have a Competitive Analysis

Every business functions within a competitive market. For better or worse, competitors reflects everything from pricing, to what products and services in demand, to how they are provided.  When preparing a business plan, research the competition to discover what products or services are offered, how they are delivered, how they are priced, and what industry standards exist.  Not only will that research uncover important marketplace details, it will spotlight what competitors are doing well and what they are doing poorly. The information will help guide the details of your business and may uncover opportunities that exist.

2. Every Business Plan Should Have a Marketing Section

Business owners must have a clear idea of who their target customers are and how to attract them. So, a business plan always needs a marketing section that has two parts. The first details who the intended customers are, where they are located. The second part lays out what forms advertising and promotion will effectively reach those customers along with the costs of that advertising.

3. Every Business Plan Should Have Financial Projections

Financial projections are vital, whether it’s just a startup budget for a home-based business or a complete set of financials for a more complex venture. Most business plans should include an income statement for at least 12 months and can include cash flow projections and a balance sheet. Financial details should be researched to portray as accurate a picture as possible.

Whether starting out or growing your business, a business plan is an important tool, particularly if you need financing. If you need help in preparing a plan for seeking startup capital or expansion financing, contact Business Capital Providers.