After inspiration has struck and you’ve had the epiphany that you want to open a business, you might not know what to do next. Planning any sort of business can be messy and take a lot of thought. However, if you organize and lay your thoughts out in a structured manner, you’ll find it easier to find the starting point. This is why creating a business plan is a good idea. Learning how to create one is simple; all you have to do is figure out which sections to include and how to order them. The most common ones are:
Cover sheet and title page. This section is self-explanatory. When putting together your business plan, it is protocol to include a page with the word “confidential” on it, as well as the copy number and the holder’s name, so that the planning committee can keep track of how many copies there are and who retains them. This is done to protect the business plan from prying eyes.
Table of contents. A table of contents is usually the first page. When putting together your table of contents, be sure to only include the important sections and subsections. Although you might be tempted to list every subheading you have in your plan, doing so can cause it to become cluttered far too quickly. Stick to the basics to make it easier to follow.
Executive summary. This is the most important aspect of your business plan, and it is usually penned after the rest of the plan is composed. An executive summary is a brief overall look of your entire business plan; it includes the basic business idea, any background information, and analyses and financial projections. It should be written in a clear, concise style in a couple of pages – no more than three. Above all, your executive summary should describe what sets your business idea apart from others – what makes it unique. Remember, people who don’t have time to read your entire business plan, such as investors and bankers, will be consulting this section, so be sure to take your time with it.
Mission statement. Mission statements are usually written to describe how a business will achieve certain long term goals. They list specific actions in a clear, concise, and confident manner. They are relatively simple to write; all you have to do is think about what you want out of your business for the future and how you plan to reach those goals. For example, if you want to build a large customer base, you might say that you aim to do so by providing exceptional customer service. Just remember to be specific and to the point.
Products and services. Giving information about the products and services you offer is one of the most important parts of your business plan. After all, your activities and sales are the heart of your business; they are the reason you opened in the first place. Although you want to give your audience a good idea about what you do, be careful not to give so much information that it’s overwhelming or confusing.
Analyses. Analyses of the industry, target audience, and competition will help you see what sorts of challenges you’re facing. Doing research on industry facts and statistics will help you better plan your business and tailor it to suit entry level needs. What’s more, analyses can also bring to your attention anything you can take advantage of. For example, there might be a niche that your company can fill, some way to make it stand out and offer a product or a service that no one else offers.
Marketing, operational, managerial, and financial plans. Within the larger scope of your business plan, you also need to outline your plans for each of the sectors of your business. You should be able to answer how you’ll attract and maintain customers, what regulations and rules you’ll have in place, what equipment and space you’ll need, and what your budget and income for each part of the business will be.
Critical risks. It is crucial to include an analysis of the risks your business could face. Things such as competition, staff issues, legal problems, and technical problems should be addressed. Additionally, you should think about the weaknesses your business could face due to your weaknesses or your staff’s weaknesses, as well as any budget issues you might come across. As long as you acknowledge it and have a plan in place to solve the biggest problems that could occur, you will be well prepared.
Exit strategies. If you plan to start a large company that people can invest in, you need to be prepared to describe how they will get their money back. Any investment needs to be worth the risk, and you need to be able to explain how the result outweighs that risk. Therefore, you should describe in detail how the investors will get their money back and what your business plans to do with the money – how you plan to grow your business.
There is much more to making a business happen than simply writing it out on paper. However, creating a preliminary business plan will help you see where you’re headed and keep on course. When creating your e-business, you can always consult a company, like Infigra E-commerce, for guidance and advice.
About Infigra E-Commerce:
Infigra E-Commerce is a Charlotte, NC based company that offers software as a solution (SaaS) and enables retailers to increase their sales by offering sophisticated e-commerce management tools. Our mission is to help move inventory by increasing the product visibility on different online global marketplace segments, such as Ebay and Amazon.