A Free, Simple Business Plan
Before You Go Any Further ... Do Some Math!
Start with the financial part before you even take the time to create your business plan. The reason is you may discover that it is impossible for you to make any money, so why would you WASTE your time laboring over a business plan?
My guess is 25% or one out of four people that come to me to discuss a the possibility of a new business start up leave me disappointed and grateful.
They are disappointed because I helped them do their math which led to the discovery that they had a good idea that would not make a profit.
They are grateful because they learned that they could not make money with their venture and therefore would not be wasting their time and money on something that was doomed to failure before it started.
Following is an example of a Free, Simple Business Plan.
You can copy the whole text and then replace the blue, italicized text areas with your own.
Business Idea Summary
You will have an opportunity when people have problems that they need solved. These problems will be some "pain" or "need". They will trade you money for your ability to solve their problem.
What is their problem and how will you solve it?
- The Product(s) and/or Service(s)
- Why you think it will work for you
- Your Marketing Message
A Marketing message is also called a "business pitch" or an "elevator speech."
What is the business, what does it do and how does it get it done?
What is the business aspiring to for the future?
Your target is the people that want to buy your product or service.
Your success is directly related to your real knowledge of your target. Being proficient and even expert at what you do is not enough. You need to UNDERSTAND your target. They are the ones that will be making purchase from your company.
Identify and describe your target and your best estimates for percentages that each segment within your target represents. For example:
- Gender: 75% female
- Age: 60% 45 yrs - 60 yrs, 25% over 60 yrs
- Income: 50% less than $75,000, 25% up to $150,000
- Education: ...
- Other things ...
Provide a summary of other businesses that are already selling to your target.
What are they doing well and how you can improve upon it (if you can). What are they doing poorly and how can you take advantage of it?
What are you strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? (This is commonly called the SWOT analysis.)
Identify your strengths.
Identify your weaknesses.
Identify your opportunities.
Identify your threats.
Business Products and/or Services
How is your product or service different from the competition? How is it BETTER?
How are you uniquely positioned to make this business venture a success?
Business Marketing Strategy
How do you intend to market your product or service?
What are some specific tactics that you will use for sales?
Who are your key personnel, what are their roles and why are they qualified?
What is your business structure? Sole proprietor? Corporation? Partnership? Who are the officers or owners?
What facilities are going to be required? A production plant, warehouse, office?
What will be the delivery method(s) you will use for your product or service?
Customer Service & Support
How will you handle customer service and support for sales inquiries as well as service assistance?
Projection: Profit and Loss (income & expenses)
If you have a bank account already established, provide the current balance and your income and expenses, as well as your projections. If you don't have these, then provide the projections.
If you already have a bank account and some history of business, provide a copy of the current bank statement as well as a profit and loss report from your accounting.
Projection: Balance Sheet
If available, provide a copy of this accounting. Your balance sheet is a statement of the assets, liabilities, and capital of your business at a particular point in time, detailing the balance of income and expenditure over the preceding period. (at least a quarter and a full year is better)
Projection: Cash Flow
Cash flow is not simply money in, but it is where the money you are getting is going. Accounting programs will allow you to generate and print a cash flow report for a defined period and often will enable you to also see and print a cash flow projection based upon previous actuals.