After hundreds of requests for a business plan template, we decided to post the following business plan template as a guideline to help entrepreneurs identify the basic needs to start their firms. A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. As such there is no single business plan template that will fulfill every business needs.
A business plan is a living document that projects 3 to 5 years ahead and outlines the path a company intends to take to grow revenues. To make your business plan stand out determine your target market and why they would want to buy from you. As yourself the questions:
- What makes your business unique?
- What needs does your product or service fulfill?
- What benefits and differentiators will help your business stand out from the crowd?
- Is the market you serve the best one for your product or service?
- Are the benefits of dealing with your business clearly stated?
- Are they aligned with customer needs?
- Beyond basic products or services, what are you really selling?
- Which specific need or clientele are you targeting?
Keep in mind that what you are really selling is a combination of product, value and brand experience.
It’s important to clearly define what you’re selling. Do not become a jack-of-all trades, this will have a negative impact on start-up growth. Divide your products or services into manageable market niches. Small operations can offer specialized goods and services attractive to specific customers.
Creating a niche for your business is essential to success. Often, business owners can identify a niche based on their own experience and knowledge of the market. It is also be helpful to perform a pilot or test market research with potential customers to uncover untapped needs.
The following outline covers some of the basic points you will need to define before going into business:
Target Market Information
- Demographics make-up
- Target market size
- Market growth rates
- Market median income and budget
- Typical expenditures in similar products/services
- Primary languages(s)
- Major competitors
Determining Your Niche
- Evaluate Internal/External Market Opportunities
- What customer segments or needs present opportunities?
- Competitive Review – Who are the toughest competitors? Why?
- Do you provide better value than competitors? Which ones? Why? How?
- How accessible are you to customers?
- Are you staffed adequately? Are you considering adding staff?
- Is your platform/business/personnel/website customer friendly and/or adequate for your target customer?
- What skills and competencies do you and staff possess?
- What skills and competencies need further development?
- Who do you consider role models to help you improve?
- What knowledge do you need to do a better job?
- What marketplace trends will you address?
- What business model is best for your company?
- How will you maximize the return on your marketing investment?
- What customer segments will you pursue?
- What are your plans to improve marketing?
- What is your staffing goal? Will the identified opportunities require a change in staffing?
- Do you have systems to ensure proper customer service and marketing?
- What skills/abilities need to be developed to meet your goals?
- What are your financial goals?
- What drives your happiness?
- How much income would your firm produce in a single year?
- How much income would a customer produce in their lifetime your firm?
- What percent of that lifetime value will you spend to acquire/retain that user today?
- What fixed and variable running costs will you have?
- How much investment do you need?
- Where will this investment come from?
- What resources will you consult to complete your market research?
- What opportunities and threats emerge from your market research?
- How will the market research results affect your business plans?
- Capital Investment
o How much capital do you anticipate investing in the first 6 to 24 months?
o How much debt do you anticipate incurring over the first 24 months?
- Team Development
o How do you plan to structure, hire, and develop your team?
o What skill sets and experiences will you look for in team members?
- Operating Budget
o What is your operating budget for the first five years (including start up)?
Sales and Marketing Strategy
- How do you plan to tailor your sales and marketing strategies to meet the needs of the market?
- What are some specific examples of sales and marketing tactics that you will employ?
- How will you market specific products?
- What are your production goals over the first 3 years?
- How do your production targets relate to your local market research, your development plan, and your sales and marketing strategy?
- How will you ensure your production goals stay on track? What will you do if your production results are below target?
- When do you anticipate reaching your break-even point?
- What other incentives will use to motivate your team?
As mentioned previously, no single business plan template will address all your needs. So if you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact us.
Feel free to comment/discuss/share. If I missed anything, Tweet to DrFranzC or leave a comment. Thanks for your feedback!