Writing a business plan is one of the first steps toward success in small business. Even if you’re not seeking outside investors, it sets the tone for your new business – and can be a great resource as you grow. Here are a few elements you need to include when you build your business plan.

Business Model

One of the first things you want to check of the business plan “list” is determining how your business will bring in revenue. In the business model, you want to include a brief overview of your company including the company’s structure, products and services your company plans to provide, and the short- and long-term goals your company has. You’ll also want to include your plan for achieving those goals.

Organization

Your business plan needs to be clear and concise. This is the document you will be referring to when it comes time to make the tough decisions about growth, competition, pricing, and employee relations. It is imperative that your business plan be well organized and thorough to help keep you on track.

Budgeting/Financial Planning

In your business plan, a financial strategy is key. Cash flow issues are one of the most common causes of small business failure. With a proper budget, and appropriate short- and long-term goals, you’ll be taking the first steps toward protecting your hard work. The more specific you can be, the better. Remember, your budgets and financial goals are living things – they will change throughout the life of your business. Visit them often, and adjust as needed.

Marketing Strategy

No matter the size of the business or what your business does, success weighs heavily on how you market your product or service. Your business could be the best at something, but if you don’t market correctly, you will likely never reach your goals. This is where a marketing strategy comes into play. When developing your marketing strategy, you want to consider questions like:

Who is your target audience & where do they get their information?
What pain points can you solve for your audience?
What makes you different from your competition?
How will you demonstrate this difference to your target audience?

Industry Analysis

It is important to do an industry analysis to determine if your business will have success in the industry. An industry analysis you will help you to determine the size of the industry, your primary competitors, how much market share do the top companies hold, and the common barriers to enter this industry. A great source of information for this analysis is your trade association. Most associations publish annual reports with this data. Joining your trade association may be beneficial for future analysis and training as well.

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