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How to Make an Exceptional Business Plan

How to Make an Exceptional Business Plan

business plan outline

Take the Time to Plan

Before diving in and getting a business license or hiring a lawyer to choose the right business structure, you should first do some business planning. Taking the time to plan the launch and growth of your business will allow you to lay a solid foundation for it to succeed.

Creating a strong business plan is key to succeeding because it will keep your business from cracking under pressure and will constantly serve as a guidebook on what goals to achieve and what direction to pursue when you are deep in the midst of establishing your business. To create an exceptional business plan that will set your business up for long-term success, make sure to seriously consider the following:

1.  Market Research and Competitive Analysis – Why You Can Succeed

Know the particular market you are doing business in and the value your business will create in it.

  • Ask yourself: “Is there a desire or need for what my business offers? Why? How can I connect my goods/services to the people that want/need them?"

  • Knowing the answers to those questions will enable you to craft effective marketing and sales strategies to reach your target market to grow your business.

2.  Business Description – What Does Your Business Stand For?

Describe your business in enough detail to answer the following questions:

  • What is your business? What does your business do?

  • What does your business stand for?

  • What is the vision and mission of your business and the goals for achieving them?

Also, perform a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) Analysis by making a 4x4 table that includes the following:

  • S – identify the strengths of your business; what competitive advantages does your business have?

  • W – identify the weaknesses of your business

  • O – identify the opportunities that are available for your business to pursue that will grow and establish it

    • For example, if you opened your own accounting firm, one opportunity to identify would be to reach out to your friends and family to see if anyone needs accounting services to help with their business or personal taxes. Another opportunity may be that you know of an organization that provides a referral service for accountants.

  • T – identify the threats that will cause your business to fail

    • For example, going back to if you were opening up your own accounting firm, non-tax season should be identified as a threat as most people only think of hiring accountants when it’s time to file for taxes, so you would have to plan for how to remain profitable during non-tax season.

3.  Goods or Services Business Offers – What is Your Business Selling that Benefits Consumers?

  • Describe what it is your business is selling and how it will benefit consumers.

  • Create an intellectual property plan where you determine which types of intellectual property protection your business will need, such as trademarks, copyrights, patents, or trade secrets.

4.  Business Organization and Management – How is Your Business Structured to Ensure Success?

Draw an organizational chart showing who is in charge of what department in your business. Additionally, describe the specific legal structure of your business.

  • Sole Proprietorship

    • Do you have sufficient commercial liability insurance?

  • Partnership

    • Is it a general or limited partnership?

  • Limited Liability Business (LLC)

    • How many members do you have?

    • Is your LLC member or manager managed?

  • Corporation

    • Is your corporation a C, S, or public benefit corporation?

    • Who is on the Board of Directors?

    • How many shares is your corporation authorized to sell?

  • Non-Profit

    • Who is on the Board of Directors?

    • What is the public good your non-profit is pursuing and why?

5.  Marketing Strategies – How Will You Attract Customers to Your Business?

  • Lay out and describe the strategies that you will implement in order to attract and retain customers

    • Ex. Internet advertising, social media marketing, creating a website, attending networking events, creating business cards and marketing materials, etc.

  • Describe how a sale will actually happen.

  • Determine ROI (return on investment) on marketing expenses.

6.  Funding – How Will Your Business be Funded and How Much Money Will it Make?

  • Describe your sources of funding and how that funding will be used within your business.

  • Explain how much funding your business needs.

  • Do you need to ask someone for funding?

    • Clearly explain how much funding you will need over the next five years and what the funds will be used for.

    • Specify the type of funding you want (debt or equity).

    • Explain your plan for paying off the debt and how (and when) your business will become financially independent.

  • Create financial projections - show how much money you estimate your business will generate in the next five years

    • Use quarterly or monthly projections for the first year

    • Explain your projections and justify why it is reasonable

    • Use charts and graphs to tell the financial story of your business

7.  Costs of Doing Business – How Much Will it Cost to Start and Run Your Business?

  • List all the costs that are required to get your business started.

  • List out the operational costs that are required to keep your business running.

    • Break it down into monthly and annual costs

The Take-Away

Take the necessary time to plan for the success of your business and you will put yourself in the best position to succeed. You can also check out the U.S. Small Business Administration for an alternative step-by-step guide for creating a business plan. Through hard work, you can make your business successful.

“A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” – Colin Powell


*The above article is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. Please contact a business lawyer to find out how any information here applies to your particular circumstances.