It’s not so much the actual plan itself that is most beneficial to your business. The real value is gained simply by completing the process of doing the research, creating a plan, and writing it down. Your business plan is like a roadmap for your business, providing research and analysis to determine the direction the business needs to go, keeping you on track, and setting milestones that enable you to measure your successes.
A business plan enables a business to:
- Establish a vision and determine direction
- Stay on course
- Set goals and recognize successes
- Chart and review operations
- Establish and maintain fiscal fitness
- Conduct thorough research
- Develop a marketing plan
- Determine the feasibility of the business
- Prepare for future expansion
- Plan for an exit strategy
Once a business plan is written, it should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis.
Download your Business Plan Worksheet to the right and I’ll take you through this overview and then, after you’ve read it, begin working on your own business plan.
You can download the additional worksheets designed to help you develop your mission statement if don’t have one and to do an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses, your competition and market demographics.
The Elements of a Business plan
Every plan is unique to a specific business and written with different intents. Because of this, what is included in a business plan, the amount of analysis and detail, as well as the format of every plan, will be different.
As a general guideline, the elements of a business plan are:
- Title Page
- Table of Contents
- Executive Summary: The executive summary introduces your business. It is a brief summary of the information you will provide in the plan’ – company, operations, marketing and financial overviews
- Purpose: This section tells what your business is, and why it exists. Some of the information to include in this section is:
* Business description- A brief overview of what you business does and, if not a start-up, its history
* Structure – Are you a sole proprietor, partnership or corporation?
* Owners – Who owns the company?
* Location – Where is your business located and why? What community? What type of facility? Why?
* Hours of operation
* Business description
* Product or service
* Target market
* Competitive edge / USP
* Business achievements – and, if any, its assets
- Mission statement – Why the business exists and what it hopes to accomplish
* Writing Your Family Child Care Mission Statement – Video
* Writing Your Family Child Care Mission Statement handout
* Writing Your Family Child Care Mission Statement handout Spanish
Vision statement – Long term projections and outlook for the business; where you want the business to be in 5 years.
Values statement – Defines the beliefs and priorities most important to your business.
* Industry economics and trends – any trends or current events that may influence your business
* Opportunities and obstacles – Innovations, progress or inventions in your industry
* Economic factors- The effect of the economy, both local and national on your business
* Price comparisons – Where do your prices fall in the range of your industry?
* Location – What are the positives and negatives of your physical location?
* Competition – Who is your competition? In what areas are they better than you? What improvements must you make to compete? What are their weaknesses, can you fill the need they aren’t fulfilling?
* SWOT handout
* SWOT worksheet
- Business performance – Finally, how do you expect your business to perform in the market, given the industry climate? Your business:
* Business operations
* Equipment, technology, facility, utilities, services
* Production or service methods
* Quality control
* Inventory and supply
* Customer service policies
* Professional resources – CPA, banks, lawyers, insurance brokers
- Market Research
* The market
* Demographics – income and spending habits, personal characteristics, standard of living, household characteristics
Psychographics – opinions and values, political views, style and taste
* Market segment – prospective customers with like demographics or psychographics
* Market Demographics and Competition handout
* USP – Unique Selling Proposition – Which of the following make your product or service unique?Your product or service is New, no one else offers it
Your product or service is Improved, someone else may offer it, but yours is an improved version
Your product or service offers Convenience
Your product or service is Specialized, you cater only to a specific market or industry
Your product or service is of Higher quality than your competitors
* SWOT – strengths / opportunities / weaknesses / threats
* Predicting your market share – How much of the target market can you realistically expect to capture?
* The 4 Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion
* Family Child Care 4 P’s of Marketing handout
- Marketing plan
* Marketing strategies and channels
* Marketing budget
* Marketing calendar
* Sales plan and forecast
* Selling channels
* Selling tools
* Increasing customer base
* Sales cycles and strategies
* Sales forecast
* Start-up costs
* Operating budget
* Funding sources
* Cash flow statement
* Profit and loss statement
* Resume’ and/or Bio
* Personal financial statements and tax returns
* Business registration or articles of incorporation
* Leases or mortgages
* Credit reports
Now that you have done your research and written your Business Plan, you can decide on the first action steps that you need to take to get you started on the road to success.
Spanish Action Steps handout