No matter what type of business you are starting, whether it’s solely online, offline or a combination, you need a business plan.
Many people mistakenly believe that they don’t need a plan because they are operating online; they couldn’t be more wrong. A business plan will help to identify your goals, forecast your income and expenses and keep you on track. Those who don’t have a perfect business plan are doomed to failure.
You don’t need a 50-page document that you will just stuff in a drawer and never look at; even a six to eight page plan is enough.
You can add to it as you go along. It’s important to note that a business plan is not meant to be written in stone; it’s meant to be a working document that you can refer to, make changes to and add to whenever you need to.
Your business plan should encompass the following.
- Executive Summary
- This page touches on everything that is important in your business plan. It’s not just an introduction; it’s the whole plan, only shorter. It’s usually one about one page, and is best done after the rest of your plan is complete.
- Overview Page
- Mission Statement: List your company’s purpose, what it is and what it does.
- Goals and Objectives: List all of the major goals that you set for your company along with the objectives that you have to meet in order to achieve those goals.
- Values Statement: The set of beliefs and principles that guide your company’s actions.
- Vision Statement: A phrase or two that announces where your company wants to go or paints a broad picture of what you want your company to become in the future.
- Company Description
- In this section, you describe your company is as much detail as possible. Include information such as management, new technology, the organization, products and services, marketing potential. It is a basic picture of what your company brings to the industry. How do you set yourself apart? What makes you different from your competition?
- Marketing Strategy
- Here you are going to list your overall marketing strategies and campaigns. It should also include information on how you are going to set yourself apart from your competition. Have some projections on costs and expenses for marketing. How much are you allocating each month to your marketing plan?
- Financial Review
- This section outlines where you are today and where you want to be in the future. Include several financial statements such as an income statement, balance sheet and cash-flow statement. Your future projections should also include these financial statements, but of course the numbers will be estimations.
- Action Plan
- This section lays out how you will execute your business plan. List any policies or procedures you will put in place, as well as any management or organizational changes you may have to implement. In other words, how are you going to make your business plan work?
When you have completed your business plan, refer to it often and make changes as you need to. Keep your ultimate goals and objectives in mind to create a successful business.