It’s important to occasionally take the time to refocus on your business, remembering why you do what you do. Writing a business plan can be a useful way to keep you on track. Having it written down gives you something to refer back to; to remind yourself where you wanted to be and reassess if necessary.
A business plan is a necessary requirement if you’re ever applying for a business loan. If you want to expand your business, purchase new equipment or new premises, then you may want to apply for a business loan. You should have a clear idea of what the extra expenditure will help you to achieve, and how long it will take to make it profitable. You’ll also need to take into account the cost of the loan, the interest charged on the loan, and this will be an additional business expense for the duration of the loan.
Business plans for your own purposes should contain the following items;
- Executive summary – A brief description of the items contained in the document, a summary of the overall findings.
- Business Description – a detailed description of the business, the services offered.
- Competitive Analysis – a detailed and honest appraisal of the competition, which might be local, but shouldn’t forget the bigger picture and the availability of services online.
- Operations and Management – the way the business will operate, who will be responsible for what tasks, and who will manage the business. This may all be you, but it’s useful to remind yourself exactly what you will need to do.
- Products and Services – the products and service that you offer. Be focused about this, you can’t be all things to all people, and you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. You will also find this useful in defining yourself and your unique place in the market.
- Sales and Marketing – Where you will make your sales, how much you will charge for your services and products. You should also give some thought to a marketing plan specifically to detail what marketing activities you are going to do to support your business.
- Financial Factors – where your finance will come from initially, how your revenue from sales will cover your expenses, premises, materials and most importantly, salaries; take in to account how much you need to pay yourself to live, and how much you can afford to pay any employees.
- Appendix – Should contain relevant resumes, permits, and leases necessary for the business to operate.
If a loan provider requires additional information, they should inform you of what they require.
It’s in your own interests to be as honest as you can with your assessments. If you make an accurate assessment of your competition, then you will have a good idea of what will set you apart from the competition, and see what will give you your edge.
You also need to make an accurate assessment of how much revenue you will need to make in order to cover your business expenses, so you know what salary you can pay yourself, which should hopefully cover your living expenses. Hiring additional employees will increase your expenses, but may help you take on more clients and generate more revenue
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