What goes in a traditional business plan? A traditional business plan covers the following sections.
- Executive Summary
- Business Description, Concept, and Strategy
- Industry Analysis
- Market Analysis
- Organization and Management
- Financial Projections
- Financing Request
Completing each section for a traditional business plan draft is often a time-consuming, thoughtful process. However, it’s important not to skimp on any of these details. Writing a business plan gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to look at their business, and its feasibility, as far out as three to five years into the future.
By the time you finish, you will have a 30-to-40-page document. This is your business plan. It will guide you through each stage of starting and managing your business.
Let’s start! Begin writing a traditional business plan by examining these essential components.
Think of the executive summary of your traditional business plan as its elevator pitch.
An executive summary describes what your business does, how is solves problems, and what poises the company for success. You may also share some details about the industry your business is in, its location, and how it earns revenue. Essentially, an executive summary works to sell your startup to key individuals like investors and potential business partners.
It’s also a short section in terms of length. Generally, an executive summary is no more than two pages long.
Business Description, Concept, and Strategy
You created an elevator pitch. Now it’s time to dig into the details of your business.
Use the business description, concept, and strategy section to share more details about your business. Consider asking, and answering, these questions to better understand your products, services, and offerings.
- What types of products or services do you sell?
- What do your products or services do?
- Where did the idea for your business come from?
- What makes your offerings unique from those on the market?
- If your business is not quite ready to launch, where are you in its development stages?
Answering these questions will dovetail nicely into better understanding the goals for the business. From here, you may begin establishing a timeline to reach your goals and outline strategies you will use to reach each one.
Every business has competitors, whether they are direct or indirect competition. An industry analysis allows entrepreneurs to do their homework on their given industry.
Identify who your competitors are. What do they do? How do they reach their markets? Conduct due diligence on their company background, pricing, and why customers buy from them.
After you conduct background research into your industry, it’s time to learn everything you can about your target audience. The market analysis in a traditional business plan allows you to examine your customer base and their needs. This includes your existing customers and your ideal customers.
Use this section to identify your audience demographics. (One helpful way to do this is by creating consumer personas.) You’ll need to outline a strategy for how you plan to attract, capture, and retain this audience.
Additionally, don’t forget about your ideal customer. If you find your target market isn’t growing, it may be wise to study markets that are growing — and where you may find your ideal customer.
Organization and Management
Up until this moment, you have written extensively about your business. But what about its owners and leadership?
Introduce yourself through the organization and management section. Share more about where you were educated and related experience and expertise you may have in the industry. If you have employees or co-founders, share biographies about their background and information about what they do in the business.
The financial projections of a traditional business plan outline the state of the startup’s current financial situation.
- Sales forecast. These are the startup’s current sales numbers. Anticipated sales figures may also be included in this section, which breaks down how monthly sales performed over the course of your first year in business. The timeline after your first year in business may break down sales and revenue on a monthly or quarterly basis thereafter.
- Cash flow statement. A cash flow statement reflects physical dollars moving into the business and money that is exiting the business. Essentially, this allows entrepreneurs to better understand how the business is earning and spending its revenue.
- Expenses budget. Every small business has its expenses. It’s important to identify items that have fixed costs versus variable costs. An expenses budget allows you to determine these figures and find out which expenses the business has that are low and high risk.
- Breakeven analysis. Everything changes for a small business once they have a breakeven analysis. The company breaks even and earns a profit. This means your overall revenue can cover and exceed its expenses. Fixed and variable costs are used to calculate this analysis, allowing the business to show reliable data that matches with its sales through a specific timeline.
- Balance sheet. A balance sheet acts as a helpful space to house assets and liabilities not already reflected in your P&L statement. For example, if an entrepreneur owns an item of assigned value, like property or inventory, they may share this information on a balance sheet as the item can provide future benefits to the startup.
A business plan’s financial projections do not need to be entirely written out. This section may use charts and tables to display and detail its revenue and cash flow.
Many entrepreneurs will use a business plan to place a funding request from investors, lenders, and financial institutions. If your business needs financing — and most do require a capital boost — directly seek it out with a financing request.
Specify how much money you need for right now as well as financing that may be necessary over the next five years. Then, detail how you plan to spend this money after receiving it. You may also detail your strategic financial situational plans for the future — covering everything from the possibility of an acquisition of your business to repaying debt.
Finally, the appendix acts as a helpful storage space for key documents that may not fit into other parts of a traditional business plan. Think trademark registrations, letters of incorporation, and industry studies.
Why Do I Need a Business Plan?
Writing a business plan, it should be noted, does not guarantee that your small business will become immediately successful. Rather, it creates foundation.
A small business built on sturdy foundation will be ready to tackle challenges and reach goals alike in knowing it is made stronger for it all thanks to a lasting business plan.
After you finish writing a business plan, let MyCorporation assist with incorporating your business! Visit us at mycorporation.com or call us at 877-692-6772.