Steps to Success
Ben Franklin is credited for this well-known quote: "If you fail to plan you are planning to fail."
For some small businesses a business plan can be very simple but planning and foresight are still critical for business success. For other plans a great deal of detail is required. Are there significant financial challenges? Are you entering an intensely competitive market? What about zoning or other location issues? Do you have the skills needed or can you hire the right people? A good business plan not only describes the business and how you will achieve your goals but anticipates and addresses the challenges you will face.
There are two main benefits to writing a business plan:
1. It’s your playbook! Developing your business plan should be a process, not a task. It should be a dynamic document that evolves with your business.
2. A business plan will be required by anyone who is a potential source of funding. In some cases a short, concise plan will be sufficient but the key points must still be covered.
Here's a brief business plan outline with questions to guide you. The links to the left connect you with resources that provide a great deal of important information for your planning efforts.
1. Executive Summary (write it last)
- What products or services does your business provide?
- What distinguishes you from others with similar businesses?
- What are the highlights regarding revenue and costs?
2. Detail on products and services
- What are the short- and long-term SMART* objectives for your business? (* - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound)
- Startup, quarterly, one-year, three-year, exit plan, for example
4. Your market
5. Marketing/Sales Plan
- Who are your customers and how will you find them?
- How will promote your business?
- Highlights or unique, valuable characteristics about you, any staff, and how your business operates
7. Revenues and costs
- Projected income and expenses
8. Financing (if applicable)
- Are you seeking a loan or investors?
- How much funding do you need and how will it be used?
- Timeline – loan repayment or return on investment
It is very important to review your business plan and engage in strategic planning regularly.