How to Write Your Business Plan - Part 1 of 3
After reading Why You Need a Business Plan, you probably realize that having a written plan is an important part of starting and running a successful small business. It helps you get organized and keeps you on track.
The name of your business should be at the top of the page with a tagline underneath that describes the essence of what you’re doing. For example, if you’re selling dog products, your tagline could be something like: Everything You Need for Your Doggie.
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Ready to get started? Read on to find out what you will include in the first sections of your document.
Executive SummaryYes, you’re the executive in this phrase. But don’t let the word ‘executive’ scare you. This part of your business plan introduces you to your readers, whether you consider yourself an executive or not.
If you’re an entrepreneur who’s just getting started or who’s looking to grow a small business, your challenge is to demonstrate why potential customers should do business with you instead of with a competitor. It doesn’t matter what the prospective buyer will purchase from you:
- A physical product
- A digital product
- A service
To that end, bios and photos of you and your staff should be part of your executive summary. Your readers will be more likely to turn into customers if they realize that they’re dealing with real flesh and blood people. In addition to bios and photos, include:
- A street address – not a post office box
- One or more testimonials, if possible
- A blog post or newsletter that inspires trust
- A phone number that people can use to ask questions
If you have a team, you could mention how their expertise has been or will be instrumental in marketing your product.
Company OverviewThis section is likely to be substantially shorter than the Executive Summary. Briefly describe your business and the typical consumer of your product or service. It is a factual description of your business and is not meant to help you bond with your customers.
Mission statement – Your mission statement should be short and to the point. Write one or two sentences that briefly describes the purpose of your business. Don’t ramble on and on.
Your mission statement is particularly useful when you hire new employees as it gives them context for the work they’ll do for you.
History of your business – Why did you start your company? Again, this should be short. If your business has received any awards or special recognition, this is the place to brag about it. Otherwise, this section can be very short.
To Sum UpWriting these two sections is the beginning. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Make a first draft and let it sit. As you work on the rest of your plan, you will most likely recognize information that could have been included in the first or second section. You should expect to return to these two sections to make revisions.
If you’re thinking about making money from your hobby, check out How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Small Business.
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