In starting any business, a business plan acts as an important roadmap to success. And if you’re looking to franchise your business, it’s even more important. A business plan shows the strength and profitability of your concept, which is vital in attracting investors, employees, and franchise consultants who have the insight, knowledge, experience and connections to get your business to the next level.
Business Plan Brass Tacks
Below are the sections of a typical business plan and some general tips. Your plan may vary according to your specific business, but this will give you some pointers for writing these common sections.
This is basically your entire plan in a nutshell, and it needs to be compelling enough to convince the reader to continue reading. Here you’ll touch on the key elements of your plan and make a powerful argument that your business will succeed – all in a very concise manner. You should probably write this section last so you have a clear picture of the entire plan in your head.
Make sure this section not only emphasizes how your business fulfills a unique need in the marketplace, but also how you’re better than your competitors.
Here you’ll share the invaluable market research that validates your business model. Make sure you explain your target market in detail and show how your product or service will answer their needs. Learn more here.
Organization and Management
Leadership is key to any successful business and you’ll need to demonstrate the qualifications of the owner/s and board of directors (if your business has one). To illustrate your company’s structure, an organization chart is very effective in showing that you’ve thought through how your business systems will run across the board and who’s in charge of each operation. Visuals are also a great way to make your business plan more engaging.
Service or Product Line
When describing your offering, do it from the perspective of your customer. This will ensure that you explain how it fulfills their needs. Also, here is another opportunity to explain why your product is better than the competition.
Marketing and Sales
From defining and prioritizing your prospects to determining how you’re going to reach out to them, there is much to think through here. You’ll need to demonstrate that you have a solid game plan for increasing sales. If you’re interested in franchising your business, this section should provide a strategy for this type of growth. For some insight on this, take a look at “How to Structure A Successful Franchise System.”
If you’re not seeking financial assistance, this section can obviously be left out. If you are, you’ll need to explain your funding requirements for both now and in the future, and provide specific information about your financial history.
In addition to historical and prospective data, you’ll also want to provide a brief analysis for both ratios and trends. Graphs are great for this.
The information provided here is a very general overview but the details are only a click away on the “Create Your Business Plan” section of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. They even have a Business Plan Tool that gives you step-by-step directions. A log-in system keeps your plan secure and you can save, revisit, and revise it as much as you like. With a task as momentous as this one, it’s safe to say you won’t finish it in one sitting. But rest assured, it will be well worth the blood, sweat, and tears. According to Forbes contributor Patrick Hull, writing your business plan will force you to ask questions and “the more questions you ask yourself about the business, the more you can minimize risks.”