You’ve got a business idea and you want to get funding. A business plan is your starting point, but not just for financial purposes. A business plan is just that-your long-term business strategy and writing a solid one will help you clarify a variety of issues in advance of opening your doors, whether that is literal or not.

One of the first steps in developing your business plan is ensuring you have a USP: unique sales proposition. Be as detailed as possible about your products and/or services and your target market. What do you sell and why would they want to buy it from you? Have you identified your key competitors? If so, what services will your business offer that theirs won’t and how will it be better? In other words, how will your business be different than the others. All of this defines your USP and is the core of your plan that your goals and timeline will be developed around.

Develop and present your marketing strategy. How will you reach your targeted customers? What will the budget be for each of these activities? How will you measure your return on investment (ROI) for marketing and test its success? Present a timeline for marketing activities as well.

Clarify goal assignments, necessity of each goal and the estimated duration for completion. Who will be responsible for completing each assignment? Why are they the appropriate choice?

Be prepared to give a detailed financial analysis. How much will you need to get started and how will it be allocated? Prepare estimated financial statements: income, balance sheet, cash flow estimates, break-even analysis and relevant ratios. Providing this information in easy to read and understand charts and graphs is helpful to readers (and lenders!). Be realistic! Don’t gloss over or inflate your financial concerns.

Finally, have a business expert review your business plan before you officially submit it to make sure it is compelling, factual, easy to understand and proofread properly. I have a free business plan template available for your use, as well as additional information here.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

The First Step: Is Your Business Proposition Viable?

What to Look for in a Financial Advisor?

Debt-Free Funding Opportunities

 

by Steven Schlagel