"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
People often think that a business plan is only necessary if they are seeking funding. While a business plan is an essential part of any loan proposal, it is far more than an external fundraising tool. It is your road map for success. Approaching your business idea in a structured way allows you to review everything at once: your value proposition, marketing assumptions and strategies, organizational structure, finances and cash flow, your recruiting and growth plan and so much more. It isn't a document you write once and forget. It is a structured way to ask yourself questions you never thought of before and break down the research process into manageable chunks. Even more, it is a living document that provides 3-5 year projections that you can keep coming back to in order to draw new connections and pose new research questions as your business pivots in new directions.
So what are the essential parts of a business plan? Just like a resume, format trends change, but according the the Small Business Administration, opens a new window these are some essential elements you will need to get started:
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Market Analysis
- Organization and Management
- Service or Product Line
- Marketing and Sales
- Funding Request
- Financial Projections
Looking for more? Our Business Plans Handbook is a searchable series of sample business plans and business plan templates. Start here to find out how successful entrepreneurs in your industry have structured and compiled their business plans, and create a road map for your own budding business. Every time you see a number or bold statement, ask yourself what that might be for your own business and then you have a tangible research question to investigate. Each edition in the series includes a glossary of small business terms to help you write effectively and a listing of associations, agencies, consultants and organizations that specialize in small business development. Looking for funding? There is a list of venture capital and financing companies as well.
Have more questions about getting your business off the ground? Ask a Librarian today!