What is Included in a Traditional Business Plan?
Why should you have a business plan? A business plan can help you expand your business and be more competitive in the market. However, a good business plan also helps you obtain financing to begin your business. It can help you prioritize and establish short-term and long-term goals. A business plan also helps you retain control of your business by allowing you to recognize what works and what needs to be adjusted as you continue to review, update, and implement your business plan.
Writing a Traditional Business Plan
Your business plan is not a document you write once and place it in a drawer. Your business plan serves as a guide that needs to be developed and modified as your business changes and grows. However, writing a business plan can be overwhelming if this is your first attempt at developing a business plan. Thankfully, you do not need to begin with a blank sheet of paper, or go it alone. Most traditional business plans include similar sections and follow a basic format. Some standard sections in a traditional business plan include:
- Executive Summary
Even though this is the first section, you do not complete the Executive Summary until your plan is complete. The Executive Summary provides a concise, short overview of the details discussed in the business plan. This section can also contain your company’s mission statement.
- Company Description
The second section of your business plan describes your company. In addition to providing the basics, including where your company is located, its legal structure, and who are the principals, you also want to use this section to brag about why your company is exceptional. You may want to answer questions such as, “How did your company begin?” “How will your business stand out?” “What customers do you plan to serve?” “What are your goals for the company?”
- Market Analysis
In this section, you need to demonstrate your knowledge of the market using data and statistics to discuss market history and market projections. After discussing the market, you need to discuss how your company fits into the market. Key elements to include in the market analysis are trends in your industry, core target market, and customer profiles.
- Competitive Analysis
A competitive analysis should include a detailed comparison of your company with direct and indirect competitors. How are the competitors operating and how will you do it better?
- Ownership and Management Plan
In this section, explain how your company is organized. State whether you are a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp. You may include an introduction to the company managers with a summary of their jobs and duties. You may also want to include a diagram that defines the chain of management within the company. Make sure to highlight the experience and strengths each person brings to their position that benefits the company.
- Service or Product Line
Provide a detailed description of your products or the services you offer. You should also include an explanation of how the products or services benefit customers and why customers will choose your products or services over your competitors.
- Marketing and Sales
You need to explain how you intend to secure customers and continue to attract new customers. In this section, you may include details of promotional strategies you are using now and plan to use in the future, including social media, search engine optimization, web development, in-person sales efforts, and print ads.
- Funding Request
This section of a business plan contains information about funding, if you are seeking funding. In addition to discussing your funding goals and needs, you also want to provide details of how you intend to use the capital to increase and grow your business.
- Financial Projections
The final informative section of a business plan provides your financial projections. The purpose of this section is to convince a potential investor that your company is a good investment. Your financial projections should include projected financial statements for the following four quarters and annually for at least five years. Established businesses may also want to include cash flow statements, balance sheets, income statements, and other financial documents to demonstrate that you met and/or exceeded the financial projections from previous years.
Your Appendix can be used to collate all documents referred to in your business plan. It may also be used to organize copies of resumes, product specs, product photographs, permits, licenses, contracts, patents, and other legal documents.
Contact a Florida Business Law Attorney for Help
A Florida business law attorney can help you draft a traditional business plan that provides a roadmap for a successful future and a convincing package to pursue financing and capital investments. To request a consultation, call business law attorney Matthew Fornaro, Esq. at 954-324-3651or contact us online. Continually serving the best interest of businesses throughout Coral Springs, Parkland and Broward County.