The purpose of a business plan sample is to give entrepreneurs a model to follow when they create a blueprint for their business. A good business plan will guide you through each step of starting and growing your business, providing a framework for each decision you make as a business owner.

Why Create a Business Plan?

The plan should define both the goals of your company and the steps you'll need to take to realize these goals. It can be used to express these goals to potential partners, vendors, stakeholders, and employees. It also provides guidelines on allocating business resources.

Your leadership team can refer to the plan to monitor success in achieving your business objectives, ensuring that you effectively manage your priorities to meet important benchmarks. Adopting a regular planning cycle with ongoing meetings can help keep the business plan current and relevant.

Before funding your venture, investors will want to review your business plan and ensure you are effectively meeting its targets.

What Does a Business Plan Include?

Your business plan should be as specific as possible with measurable and trackable milestones and expectations. Spell out each person's roles and responsibilities. This will help you identify potential problems and solve them as soon as possible as well as take a view toward your long-term goals when you make everyday business decisions.

The plan should include:

  • Goals and a timetable for reaching them
  • Information about your target market
  • Details about your main business strategies, including targets and dates
  • Financial information including the need for capital investment and how these funds will be raised, how loans will be repaid, how profits will be invested, the budget for spending, a sales forecast, and details about cash flow
  • Market research about customer need and a plan for meeting those needs
  • Plans to address potential obstacles and market changes that impact the business strategy
  • Operational information including facilities, equipment, and suppliers
  • The timing and circumstances of your eventual departure from managing the business, such as details about family succession

The initial plan can focus on the first one to two years with an eye to the entire lifespan of the business, and you can update as needed as your business grows. All benchmarks should focus on those first 12 to 24 months so you have measurable goals to attain.

How Often Should a Business Plan Be Updated?

Your business plan should be reviewed frequently to make sure it is on track. This helps you meet objectives and identifies pain points to be corrected. Consider a three to six-month review and update cycle for your business plan.

Having a regular review will help inform conversations with potential investors and lenders. It also shows supplies, customers, and employees your commitment to the business.

When you meet with banks and investors, they will want to see a plan that includes at least three years of your business's financial and trading history and details about your executive and management team's skills and qualifications.

What Questions Can Help Me Get Started on My Business Plan?

If you're stuck, brainstorm answers to the following questions:

  • What is the level of my commitment to success in this business?
  • How many employees will I eventually have?
  • What will be my annual revenue next year? In five years?
  • How much of the market share can I attain over the next five years?
  • Will I appeal to a broad or niche audience?
  • What are my plans for geographic expansion?
  • How will I delegate tasks to others?
  • Am I willing to work with partners and investors?
  • Do I plan to remain privately owned or do I want to go public or be acquired by a larger company?

How Will I Finance My Business?

Before you write a business plan, learn more about different types of available financing. You should also think about how involved you would want a potential investor to be.

  • Venture capitalists often want to have input and control and may want to sit on the board of directors.
  • Some angel investors are very involved in business operations while others are not.
  • Banks remain uninvolved in the business as long as you adhere to the terms of your loan.

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