If you want to start a business and you’re looking for investment, either from banks or from private investors, you’re going to need a business plan.
A business plan is a document that details various aspects of a proposed business, including the aims of the business, the background of the individuals starting the business, details of the products and services that are on offer, the market, competition, strengths and weaknesses, operations, pricing strategy and financial forecasts.
Aims of the business
This will include a summary of the business, its aims and a brief financial summary. This section is called the executive summary, and although you have to spend hours, days, even weeks preparing your business plan, at the end of the day, this page may be the only part that the investors actually look at.
The background of the individuals starting the business
The business plan should set out why the individuals are the best people to start this business. They must demonstrate that they have the appropriate skills and experience required to make this business a success, including previous work experience, qualifications and education, hobbies and interests and anything else that’s relevant.
Details of the products and services that are on offer
Naturally a key part of the business plan is details of the products and or services that are going to be sold. There should be a single line description and also a more detailed description. Ideally there will be information about Unique Selling Points (USPs) that will give your company the edge over competitors.
A sign of a serious entrepreneur is one that knows the importance of knowing their market. It’s no good just assuming the market is there and will be beating down your door – you need market research and hard data to crunch. This should include a description of your typical customer, their profile (individuals or businesses, age, wealth levels etc), what their priorities are, whether you’ve sold them before, location and much more.
The better the devil you know, as they say. New businesses need to know exactly what they’re up against. That means how much competition there is and what it looks like. Who currently holds the market share, how big are they, how long have they been in business, how do they make a success of it? You can learn a lot from your competition, and you need to be very clear about exactly why your customers should buy from you and not them.