The first step in any successful business is creating a business plan. The plan is the foundation for your company and gives you an outline that shows you everything you should expect in the future. Before you apply for business grants, business loans, or look for investors, you must have a solid plan in your hands. Even the Small Business Administration, which helps business owners find access to funding requires a plan. You can find many free templates online that let you craft your own business plan. The best plan typically follows a template guideline.
The first area of the plan is the Executive Summary. An Executive Summary is a way of introducing yourself through words and usually covers one page or less, but can be up to two pages long. The summary should include the reason you started your business, what your business does, why you want to start the business, and information on how your history relates to your business. If you worked for years as a chef and now want to start a catering company, include that information in the summary.
The next area of the business plan is the Small Business Description. The description should be a more detailed and involved version of your summary and focuses less on you and more on your company. You need a basic mission statement that explains what your company does and a vision area that details its potential growth. If the business currently operates, then use this area and write a short history of how you launched the business and your past success. This area should also list your objectives and any goals that you have for the future. This part of your business plan is how you show your successes and your hopes for the future, which is something that any investor will look at.
A good business plan incorporates marketing into the outline. Not only should you explain the web marketing, mobile marketing, or traditional marketing plan that you are going to use, but also the type of ads that you would like to use in the future. Most small business owners are going the way of co-op marketing in order to acquire customers. Co-op marketing is centered around customer acquisition and allows small businesses to compete with larger ones while using a smaller budget.
Last but not least, the outline should also include sections devoted to the equipment needed for your company and has areas for budgeting. In the budgeting sections, you list any money that you have for the business and how you plan to use that money in different ways. When you work with an investor or seek a loan, the individual or group wants answers to all the questions they might have.
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