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A business plan is an important document that was traditionally designed so the business owner could apply for and receive financial help through loans, venture capital, and other investments. An excellent online platform to create your business plan is at liveplan.com.

However, the other reason for the business plan is that it will help you determine, before you invest too much time and effort, if your business idea is viable or not. Plus, it can be the beginning of a road map with daily operation tasks and activities that lead to building and growing a successful life-affirming business.

Executive Summary

This section includes the name, location, and the overall mission of your business that you want to start. You’ll want to include a full description of the product or service, how it’s situated within the market, and why yours is different. To write an excellent executive summary, you need all the information described in the other components below first. It should encapsulate everything you prove in the sections below.

Business Description

In just a few paragraphs, write an overview of your business operations and what you do, who you do it for, and why you’re different. You’ll need to research your industry and the competition, describe how the industry is right now in the current climate, and provide basic information about your business such as your name, the location, the type of structure you set up, and so forth. It should be clear to whomever needs it what you do. A good way to approach this is to describe the problem you solve for your ideal customer.

Market Analysis and Strategy

This is the section you will include your overall analysis about your industry, where you fit in, the target market, your competition, and how you will enter the market with your product or service based on what you know. Be very specific. Include the size of your audience, trending information, and info about your target customer. This is the info that you can create a customer avatar with.

Marketing and Sales Plan

This section may be one of the most important because it will define how you will do business. It will define your method for gaining customers and the like. You’ll want to discuss your product, the price of your product, the place you’ll sell it, how you’ll promote it, to whom, and mention what profit you want to achieve and how you will reach your target profit potential.

Competitive Analysis

To create this section, you’ll need to find out who your competition is, who exactly their target audience is, how they do their targeting and pricing, and marketing. You should understand how they differentiate themselves from the market so that you can find another entry point.

Management and Organization Description

In this section, you’ll want to describe and summarize your business structure, who is on your team, whether they’re employees or contractors, and so forth. This section is not actually needed unless you plan to talk to venture capitalists or seek grants. However, it is helpful for you personally to describe how your organization will work and who will do what, when, why, and how.

Products and Services Description

This area is very straight forward. Simply list and describe every product and service you will be selling. This is how you will earn money. Use all your descriptive words to describe your products and services fully. You’ll want to include cost, features (and always the benefit of that feature to your ideal customer), how you’ll distribute the product or service, and information about the target market and competition, too.

Operating Plan

In this section, you need to be very detailed about how you’re going to run your business. What day to day tasks will be completed, and by whom, in order to be successful in this business? How much time will it take? What equipment will you use? What will change if times get hard or something happens, such as a natural disaster? Your operating plans consider possibilities so that you hopefully have a plan already in place when you need it.

Financial Projection and Needs

Not only do you need to know exactly what each part of your business costs you in terms of investment, but also what it is going to earn you. This is an integral part of the plan because it will help you understand what it takes to achieve the goal you want: work-life balance and enough funds to accomplish the life you want to live.

Exhibits and Appendices

In this area, you’ll include all the documentation that goes with the summaries that you created for each section. This is the area you want to back up anything you said above with proof. Include copies of your ads, copies of your headlines, tagline, logo, and anything you use for marketing that helps support your words above.

It really does depend on the type of business you plan to start, whether you need to write a full business plan with the components mentioned above. If you are starting a home business, you may not need some of the financial projections that enable you to get a loan or venture capital, for example, but in general, you need to at least know what your goals are and how you’re going to reach them. When you put it in writing, it will provide a road map that will enable you to achieve the success you seek.

All the best,
Patti

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