When you want to start a business, you often think about registering your company or creating a website. That is good, but it is not enough. Before embarking on this new adventure, you will need to write a business professional plan that will allow you to make the right decisions. This document will help you formulate your ideas in an organized way, set short- and medium-term goals, and refine your strategy. By following our advice on every facet of the business plan, you’ll be able to start your new project on your own right now.
What is a business plan?
A business plan, also called a business plan, is an official document that is written when you want to start or take over a business. It must include all the steps necessary to develop your business such as establishing your company, analyzing the market and marketing, commercial and financial objectives.
In addition to presenting your project clearly and setting goals beforehand, it will allow you to attract potential partners, or investors if you want to raise funds.
The elements of the business plan
- The executive summary
- The description of your company
- Management and organisation
- The products and services provided
- Market research
- Marketing and marketing strategies
- Financial estimates
#1 The Executive Summary
Executive summary is the most important part of your business plan. Not only does it occupy the first place, but it can also be used independently of other parties to give an overview of your project.
Let’s be honest, when you send a 20-page business plan to investors, they will first read the executive summary. If, and only if, they were convinced by this part, they will browse the rest of your business plan. In other words, it’s a teaser to get your readers’ attention and get them interested in your project.
We recommend using a simple format of up to one or two pages. Give an overview of everything that is included in your business plan, without going into technical jargon or second-rate details. Write a few sentences about each element of your project – the description of the company and the team, the products or services you want to develop, the summary of market analysis and your target, etc. – all while leaving your reader intrigued and eager to know more. The page should be short and attractive, without superficiality.
Be careful, if this part appears first in your business plan, you should write it last. In fact, your project is still a sketch, a draft. So there is a good chance that you will change the executive summary over and over again… And again! Start by writing a draft and update it as your business plan progresses. Most importantly, share this valuable document only after it’s complete.
#2 The description of your company
This part is probably the easiest to write. Start with the names of your company and the names of your founders. Then give a history of your company with the key dates and the people involved. Include items such as the year and place, the purpose of your business and what you want to bring new or different. Describe your basic products or services briefly, but without giving too much detail, as you will explain them in another dedicated section.
Discuss the stage of your business development and past progress you’re proud of. Draw attention to the competitive advantages that can help your business succeed, such as teaming up with other industry experts or offering more specialized products or services.
Explain your future plans by mentioning your goals, in parallel with your action plan to achieve them. Describe the details of these goals chronologically, in terms of months, quarters and years. Your current or potential investors and other stakeholders will want to know how your business plans to grow and grow.
#3 Management and organization
This includes founders, managers and all other stakeholders such as the board of directors, shareholders, department directors and other team members. Even if you haven’t hired all these people yet, it’s important to show what your team will look like when it’s full.
Make a diagram or pyramid of your entire organization so you can better visualize the hierarchy. Then, describe the roles of the key players mentioned in your illustration, how you recruited them or how you plan to find them and integrate them into your team.
Do not hesitate to insist on the qualities, training and professional experiences of each person concerned, this will bring even more legitimacy to your project.
#4 The products and services provided
This part should be carefully written as it includes all the details about the products or services you want to develop. You will therefore need to provide clear descriptions and potential names for each offer. Think about any questions that might arise from someone who has no knowledge of the subject. Respond concisely, making sure you don’t omit any important details.
What are your project’s needs? If it’s an existing product, what new products are you going to bring?
Also describe the stage of development you are in, what you have already put in place and the steps you need to follow. Then add diagrams, product images and other visual components if necessary.
Complete this section by listing all the costs associated with the products and the final price you want to apply. Don’t forget to include the cost of materials and labour, delivery, packaging,… and of course the profit you intend to make on each unit.
#5 Market research
This is one of the most difficult sections of your business plan, as it has several parts that require extensive research on your part. You will need to conduct a market study, draw conclusions and write the associated results for:
Industry: Give an overview of the industry in which your business operates, whether it’s health and wellness, education, entertainment or whatever. What is the current situation in your sector? How should it evolve in response to the economic and social context? Discuss the main commercial players and their offers.
List and analyze your main competitors and how you plan to compete with them. Doing a SWOT analysis is the most effective way to do this. It is about detecting the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of each of these companies.
Explain what prevents a newcomer from entering the industry. Are start-up costs high? Is specific equipment needed? Are there any patent or regulatory requirements? What about distribution?
Here you’ll give details about your target heart. Describe exactly what your potential customer base looks like in this sector, using demographics from your market, such as age and occupation. Also determine where your customers are. You can also include valuable information about the needs and desires of your ideal customer.
Assess how your company positions itself against these four points. What are your advantages? How are you going to overcome obstacles? How will you reach your target audience? So many questions to solve before you officially launch.
#6 Marketing and marketing strategies
From a marketing point of view, it is important to have your own brand identity. This is reflected in a unique logo, well-defined colors and a custom font. You may even have a slogan or a muse that represents you.
Once your brand is in place, the next step is to determine your communication strategy and marketing budget. This includes the creation of a professional website to display and sell your products online and the choice of your distribution channels (newsletters, blogs, social networks, press articles…).
You’ll also need to plan how you’ll handle your customers’ orders. What are your needs for manpower, supplies, equipment and facilities to assemble and ship orders. If you choose alternative options such as dropshipping, mention them here as well.
#7 Financial estimates
It’s always good to know how you planned to be profitable. Let’s be honest, who would want to invest in a company that has no plans to make a profit? Unless it is a not-for-profit corporation. In any case, you don’t want to go into selling just for the sake of selling.
We advise you to forecast revenue and expenses for the first five years of your business with a focus on the first year that will be the most expensive. What is your initial investment, how will you use it and from when will you become profitable? Try to be as realistic as possible and include all expenses related to launching your project. Will your own investment be sufficient or do you need to raise funds? Make the difference between all of your costs and the investment you have, so you’ll get the amount you need for the viability of your project.