What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that lays out what you see your business accomplishing and why. It is basically a road map from concept to implementation and covers all areas of running the business. It may even contain an exit plan. Most importantly it should spell out how your business idea is viable as a financial operation. 

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." Anatole France

Your business plan are all your goals and aspirations of what you believe your business can achieve and more importantly how you are going to get there. It should be sound, precise and well researched yet flexible and an ongoing process.  A good business plan encompasses five key areas plus an executive summary:

Executive Summary

This should be a one page short summary of why the business will be successful.

It will contain your business name, a brief description of your product or service, a summary of the market place you intend to operate in and why your product is needed.  A short description of your business objectives and the potential for growth. 

Organisation Planning 

Your organisation plan will contain the structure of your business entity (whether you are a company, trust or individual), key personnel and their relevant skills and experience. If you have already registered a domain name or business registrations you can include them here. 

It should contain an organisational chart and details of any professionals (legal, accounting etc) that you have employed. 

Strategic Planning

These are your overall goals of operations. What is your organisation and why are you in operation? Where are you going to focus your efforts to make good use of your resources. What are your outcomes and how are you going to measure success. 

Operational Planning

The nuts and bolts of how you are going to bring your strategic plan into operation. Where will you be located and what areas will you service, what type of business premises will you need, how are you going to deliver your product, how many employees will you need, what is your expected level of turnover, what regulatory requirements do you need to comply with? 

These are just a few of the issues you will have to cover in your operational plan, each industry will be different. 

The Marketing Plan

No business can succeed without a market to sell it's goods or services to. You should know your target market (age, demographics, interests etc) and how you are going to reach them. Your marketing plan will not only show that there is a need (or want) for your product but why your target market is going to buy from you over the competition. 

No marketing plan is complete without an analysis of the market or environment you are entering into. 

Financial Planning

Finally all of this costs money. Your financial plan would encompass any capital costs and initial working capital needed to get your business off the ground. Your projections will budget for that all important point of when your business will start to actual make money (your break even point). A sound financial plan will cover 5 years of projections

Look out for our coming articles in which we look at these key areas in more details.