How Detailed of a Business Plan Do You Need?

When it comes to launching a business, taking the time to craft your business plan is crucial. While this task may seem overwhelming (and, to be honest, it kinda is), it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might think, especially if this plan is just for your eyes.

A solid plan will cover these key points:

Company Description:
Clarify why your company exists, its history, the problems it solves, and who it solves them for (your clients or customers).

Market Analysis:
Here’s where you explain the demand for your product/services. Identify other businesses offering similar products/services, know your competitors, and highlight what sets you apart.

business plan, writing a business plan

Delve into the legal structure of the business, ownership, management, staffing needs, and operational details (home-based or storefront, office hours, contact information). If you have an invisible advisory board (banker, attorney, bookkeeper, tax filer, marketer, insurance agent), list them here. What’s your game plan – will you be home-based or have a storefront?

This is where you lay out your strategy for marketing your business/product/service to attract leads. How will you sell to potential clients, and what does the process look like once someone is ready to buy?

Money Talk:
Every business plan must delve into finances. Firstly, explain the startup costs, listing out items and their prices. Don’t forget to mention where the money will come from – out of your pocket, a loan, grant, or investment? Also, include financial projections, a crucial part of a good business plan. Provide a realistic 2-3 year financial forecast, ensuring it aligns with the rest of your plan. For instance, if you anticipate a sales spike by August, ensure your marketing plan supports this projection.

The Odds & Ends (aka, the Appendix):
This is where you toss any supporting spreadsheets, graphics, or additional info that backs up your plan or provides extra details. For example, if you have a prototype image or copies of patents or contracts, include them here.

The Appendix might be more detailed if you’re seeking funding. However, if this plan is just for your eyes, think of it as your notes section. When you have info that doesn’t quite fit anywhere but is important, add it here. For example, notes related to your Money Talk section, such as listing out the types of subscriptions included in your forecasted $150 per month spending.

How detailed you get into each section of your business plan will vary based on your industry and audience. If you’re in a service-based industry with no immediate staffing plans, you might not go into great depth about the Company, Organization, or Money Talk if they’re likely not to be complex. Instead, focus more on the Marketing Analysis and Strategy. If you need funding, you might need to dive deeper into specific sections based on the purpose and potential funders.

Don’t overthink it, but do put in some effort. While you can pay someone else to put a business plan together for you, I firmly believe that the small business owner should play an active role. No one knows your business like you do! Taking the time to create even a simple plan offers a valuable overview of your goals and strategies.

Want help?

If you want a business plan but need help, here are ways to get assistance:

  • For USA-based businesses, contact your local SBDC or SCORE chapter to connect with a mentor for free. These are excellent resources for small business owners seeking guidance.
  • Hire someone like The Admin Group LLC to guide you through the process. They offer virtual work sessions, guidance, brainstorming, and assistance with editing the final plan. Additionally, they provide Financial Forecasting as a standalone service if you only need help with that component.
  • Hire a VA/researcher to assist with researching specific components of your plan.
  • Hire a specialist for targeted support in areas such as marketing strategy, brand development, or legal and tax considerations.

Yes, business plans can be daunting, but they don’t have to be. Creating a lean business plan is perfectly acceptable! Just remember, if you don’t experience at least a few “ah-ha!” moments, you might not be delving deep enough. During any planning phase, those moments should be happening!

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