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How to Write a Business Plan for 2024.

Okay, so as a new entrepreneur or even an experienced one you will hear people constantly talk about a business plan. So what is it exactly?




First thing, you will more likely end up pivoting on something you write in your business plan. It is not law, it is just preparation. So don't spend months on this, you still need to take the leap and start but here is how to write a business plan.


So let’s break down a business plan example and help you understand each part of it. You can download the format from the link here below.



Business Plan Format
.docx
Download DOCX • 7KB

Number 1. Executive Summary. This will consist of a few bullet points about what your business name and structures, along with goals and how you plan to grow. So first bullet point is Business Name and Location. That should be easy. Next is the Mission and Vision Statement. This is great when looking to start a business because it is a good chance to see if you actually see this business growing into something you can support your family with or if it will just be a side gig for more business in the future.



Description of Products of Service. What does your business sell. So if you’re doing resale online, if you sell lawn care services, or if you sell life coaching you’re going to give a brief description of it. This is also a good chance to understand your product or service better.



Basic information about leadership team. If you are at the early stages of planning your business, its either just you or another friend you want to start up with. Nothing crazy, just each persons role in the business.



Key financial details and growth plans. Where are you at with funding currently, how do you plan to increase profits with current data. If you haven’t made any sales yet, you need to be realistic about this and not base your growth off success stories you see on the internet. There is nothing wrong with scaling a business slowly.



Last for the executive summary is your business objectives. What are you trying to do with your business? Describe the want or need you discovered through your market research and how your business will solve it or improve it.



Number 2. Company description. A breakdown of your market and how you can succeed in it. So for the bullet points we’re going to start, Nature of your business. What problems in the market does your business solve. Who is your target market. This should be as niche as possible when you are first starting. Niche as possible also means that there are enough prospective customers in that niche to support growth and scalability into the future. So when describing your target market, who specifically are you going after and why are they most likely to buy your product.



If you haven’t figured it out by now, you may end up changing your business model as you write this. That’s what you want. This will help you avoid a lot of mistakes because you took the time to prepare. One more bullet point for the company description is Unique Selling Point. What makes your product unique and unlike all the competition? This is often regarded as features but if you can describe how those features of your product/service address each problem you will have a much easier time when it comes to the selling process. Learn what makes you different and why that is valuable to the prospective customers.



Number 3. Market Analysis. You’ve already got yourself into a niche market and now its time to prove why that market works for your business. First is the industry description. What category of business do you fall under and how does its future look. Are you creating something that pairs with solar, an obviously growing market? Then it shows potential growth opportunities for your business. This should be broken down into what basically Facebook ad manager will ask you. Age, Gender, Geographical Location, and Interest. This will change as you start doing A/B testing on your ads but that’s for later. The results of any market testing. Have you run ads promoting your business already? How was the feedback? Any social media or post or content that has been well received or didn’t work at all? This should be something tracked regularly through your advertisement platforms. Those are all provided internally through Facebook, TikTok, and Google with tracking metrics.



Last bullet point here is Competitor Analysis. Every business owner thinks they are special until they realize the competitor does the same thing. That’s not a bad thing. It means that there is actually business to be had in the market you picked. Now if there is a more established business in this market, feel free to look at what has made them successful and use that to help you own business. There is nothing wrong with taking the paved road to success instead of trying to break through all the time. Use services like Similarweb to check a competitors website traffic and how they are getting it. Then you can find gaps in the market that the larger competitors aren’t reaching that you can target specifically. You don’t need to go over financial reports or anything crazy but you should at least have an idea of who is doing well in your market, and how they are doing it.



Number 4. Organization and Management. This is just the detailed version of what you wrote in the executive summary. Starting out with company hierarchy. If you are a single owner business with no employees, this means its just you. Simple. If you have already hired a few employees or went into business with partners, just breakdown positions and responsibilities. Next is legal structure. This is important for taxes and liabilities. So if you are starting out new, you will likely want to form an LLC. Limited Liability Company. This will protect your personal assets and also give you some unique tax benefits we’ll cover later. After you have started making profits, you should consider talking to a business lawyer and accountant on if it will benefit you more to remain an LLC or switch to an S-Corp structure. Different tax benefits but also with different requirements.



Last bullet point here is Leadership Background. Think of this as the resume on your application to be a part of this business. If its just you, what experience or education do you have that will help ensure your business will succeed. Do you have multiple partners in this business. What skills, experience, and marketplace value does each of them bring to the table. This might break up your friend group but a business is an important venture and expensive if you make too many mistakes. Don’t let your buddy hop in on a business if he doesn’t contribute.



Number 5. Products and services.



This will be the detailed description of your products and services offered. Remember this business plan is a resource for yourself. You should have some very important information written here. Obviously brief description of your products and service but you also want to include cost and profits. How much does it cost you to acquire this product or provide this service? After all of the cost, how much profit will you have? If this profit is not enough to support your growth plan, then you may need to increase your margins but looking at a different pricing strategy. Maybe offering more value that doesn’t add additional cost. For example we offer 3 months of free follow up consulting on our 2 week training program.


Now it doesn’t cost us anything additional in terms of overhead but the customer receives value knowing that if anything from the training isn’t working, he can consult with us free of charge to see what they didn’t understand and try to address it. So that should all be included in your product and service description.



Next bullet point is any future products or services. This is an important part of your growth plan. You should look at lost cost and high return ways you can expand your business. Think of lawn care. You start out just mowing the grass. Then you get a weed wacker. Now you do some tree trimming. Then you add special fertilizers and anti-mosquito services. You now have a variety of service you can bundle together to sell to your potential customers. You can only bundle packages if you have created enough options. Just think of all the problems that need to be solved that you can handle without too much additional overhead cost and with a good Return on Investment.



Last up is Patents or Copyrights. If you have any required certifications, like a liquor license or need to get a utility patent to make sure your product doesn’t get ripped off, make sure you either have those already or are actively pursuing those. This will protect your business from any problems later so make sure all your required paperwork is done very early on.


Number 6. Marketing strategy. I bet most of you will look at this and think, I’m just going to run Facebook and Google Ads. Let me tell you now, that is an expensive mistake. While very effective, you don’t have to dump all your money into bad ad campaigns that get zero returns. You might get lucky and figure it our quickly but chances are you will see bad results your first couple of runs. So before you start anything, figure out what kind of content your want to be associated with your business.


Are you using blog post to improve SEO results. That’s a great strategy but it takes a while. Building a social media presence is a grind as well. While you can read some books like 100 million followers and get an idea of how to build content, putting it into practice effectively will take some time and experience. So get as detailed as you can about how you are going to reach the customer and you’ll have a great head start.


Next bullet, Promotional rewards and Referral programs. Easily the thing most businesses lack because they don’t see the value in this but it is a powerful tool for any business. Finding a low cost way to keep your customers coming back reduces customer acquisition cost (which is how much it cost to get new business) and provides more opportunities to up-sell more products or services since you’ll have built in rapport with repeat customers.


Think of a tiered program. You can earn your way to better deals and discounts the more you spend. It doesn’t have to be a giant skill tree to earn a discount, just think earn this many points to move from bronze to silver. Then silver to gold and then to platinum. Anything more than that would require pretty frequent purchasing like a monthly subscription service or something.



As far as referral programs go. Customers will only do things for you if there is an incentive. Make you referral program strong enough that customers will be motivated to get others to buy from you. Rules are simple for this. The reward is only sent to the referee if the referral buys something. That something has to be of a certain dollar amount so that you remain ROI positive while also paying out the referral bonus and possible referral discount to the new customer. You should have a very strong understanding of your customer acquisition cost at this point.



You can also breakdown on another bullet point how you are planning to promote the business on each platform. Social media has become pretty simple to create one piece of content and share it across all platforms so if that’s a quick post made from Canva showing a discount or high production commercial, you should have a plan for each that works to each platforms demographics and strengths.



Number 7. Sales Strategy. You need to learn how to sell. You business will not succeed if you can’t sell your product or service. Luckily for you sales is a learnable skill. Go pick up something like the book by Jordan Belfort, “The Way of the Wolf” which breaks down how to actually sell using technique. Not just hoping people will buy because they like you. So in the sales strategies section you need to breakdown the commission structure. How much are your sales reps getting paid. If that’s just you, then how much of the profits are you taking home to maintain your lifestyle.


Next bullet point is pricing and negotiations. Pricing Strategy is super important because of a few things. You need to consider what the competition is selling it for, how much value you are offering vs the competitors in your market, perceived value, and of course profit margins and cost. When it comes to sales you should have an ideal price point of where you will go no lower on the price. But if you have a sales team they need to have tools to close sales. This is why negotiations are important to plan for. If you have a subscription service and the customer is on the fence about it, are you willing to give him one month free if it will close the deal?


What about if they do an annual subscription you’ll do it for the cost of 10 months instead of 12? You see this stuff all the time and that’s because it works. It is much cheaper to give a customer 2 free months, instead of losing them after 6 months and spending more on the next customer acquisition. Plus if they stay with the service that long, they are much more likely to continue buying from you in the future.


Final bullet point for Sales Strategies is the sales script. Do you have a rehearsed and structured sales script that will guide the customer from initial interaction to close deals asking for referrals? If not, how can you possible teach a future sales rep how to sell as well as you. This will help you overturn objections, up-sell, and once you become proficient enough, be able to control the interactions well enough that you can get an idea of how long each sales process should take. With that, you’ll be able to find the insufficiency in your sales process and improve your ability to sell more in less time. Just keep updating it and improving as you learn more and you’ll turn your sales process into a well oiled machine that is track-able and teachable to the future sales reps so they can perform at the same level.


Number 8. Financial. This is going to be your current cash flow, Debts, Overhead Cost, and Projected Profits. So cash flow is going to be the profits after all the expenses. If you are still in the planning phase of your business, this should be done more as a plan on managing expenses and how you plan to be cash flow positive. Next is debts. This is everything you’ve borrowed. So any credit cards you’ve used, any loans, or borrowed money from friends and family. Organize it well because it should be reflected in your cash flow.


Now overhead cost. This is everything it cost you to keep your business operating. This is building rent, staff salary, website hosting fees, and anything else you can think of that is needed to keep things running. If you are just starting out, its very important to minimize your overhead cost as much as possible. You want to keep your burn rate low especially if dealing with funding because if you aren’t cash flow positive when the loan runs out, you won’t have anything to support your business and will end up taking on additional debts.


The last one for financial is projected profit. This will be the combination of everything above. For those who have been in the business for a while you can base it off your current growth rate pretty easily. Just track year to year profit change and do the next year with an optimistic, but realistic goal. For those who haven’t started yet, this is going to be the combination of your financial research and planning. This will mostly just be a goal you set for yourself but don’t set something so outrageous your disappoint yourself. You’re probably not going to become a millionaire in the first year and that’s okay.


Then just wrap everything up at the bottom with a quick summary of all the financial information laid out in an easy income vs expenses style. Since the numbers are what’s really important here.


Number 9. Is just attachments. Any additional data you’ve collected to support why this business will be profitable. Market data and stats, financial information, sales history reports, or any other relevant paperwork.


You can start a business with a simple idea and some hard work. That said, having a plan in place will help when you aren’t sure about where to go next. So especially if you are thinking of starting a business, take the time and learn more about your market. I promise there are things you don’t realize you need to learn.


If you need more help getting ready to start your business or feel there is room for improvement, feel free to shoot us a message using the button below. Leave a comment if this helped you or what you think could be improved.





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