Question: What do you want to use a business plan for? Who is your audience, and what do they want to get out of your presentation?
I think there are two main reasons to create a business plan: 1) You are planning to present or pitch your business to someone, because you are looking for investors, partners, advisors, or just want some feedback, and 2) As an exercise to put the intangible, probably very messy, idea in your head down on paper, so you can challenge and validate it.
The typical business plan sections follow: Summary, Company, Products/services, Market, Strategy, Team, and Finances. The summary obviously gives an overview of the rest, but let’s do that here, and the video will go into more depth for each.
The Company section should cover the big picture view of its history, current state, and goals for the future. This should be inspiring and should paint a picture in your audience’s head that helps them see what you see. If relevant, at the end, you can cover details like legal form and fiscal year.
Products/services should go into detail about what you sell. You should present your products like you do to your customers, focusing on the benefit to them. Depending on your audience, you can also include more specific features. If you have any intellectual property rights, you can discuss that here.
Market analysis should focus on your target customers, your competitors, and the industry as a whole, and it should do so from a statistical perspective. By showing hard data in this section, you show that you’ve done your research, and you know what is and isn’t working in your industry.
The strategy section of your business plan is where the rubber meets the road. Discuss how you will reach your customers and details about your product’s pricing. Give a full operation cycle that shows how the company will reach customers, take orders, fulfill, deliver, receive payment, and ensure satisfaction.
Team should focus on the people managing the company. Give detailed profiles of the “C-suite” that will be running the company day in and day out. Then an organization chart is helpful, showing the departments that those people run. You can also discuss the owners, board, attorneys, and accountants.
Finances should start with historical data, if available, and lead into a projection into the next five years or so. It should support the projection with trend analysis of the company’s history, clearly discussing assumptions or milestones that need to occur.
First, determine the purpose of your business plan. Then, determine the audience. Put yourself in their shoes. What do they want?