Creating a business plan is an important part of starting a new business or expanding on an existing business...it can help you attract potential investors, as well as convince banks or other lenders that your business ideas are sound enough to warrant a loan; it can also show potential landlords that you will be able to make enough money to cover your lease. If you are hoping to create a business plan to help meet your business-related goals and aspirations, then the following steps should get you started. To take this information even further, you may want to consider enrolling in an online business management program; you can take just a few classes or go for a full degree.
- Before you begin writing your business plan, take the time to do research into the type of business that you want to open and any local competition that your business might face. You will continue to do research as you complete work on your business plan, but this will give you an idea of what you'll be facing once your business plan is complete and you have to start working toward getting your business up and running.
- Develop detailed estimates of how much money it will require for you to start your business or make the changes/expansions that you're wanting to make. These estimates should include property rental, estimated utility costs, supply costs, and any other expenses that you will have to undertake.
- Create estimations of how much money you stand to make from your business, detailing the first year month-by-month and subsequent years by quarter (periods of every three months). Make sure that these estimates are realistic, and that they will be easy to compare with previous estimates of your expenses.
- Develop a more in-depth look at potential competition, including estimations of how much business they do and how that will affect your startup or expansion efforts. Potential investors, business partners, and lenders will all be interested in knowing how well your business can compete with established competitors.
- Write up profiles of management members and the responsibilities that each will carry. You should also make estimations of how many employees you may need, and also their job responsibilities. You should also include estimations of salaries, hourly wages, and the cost of any benefits that you will be offering.
- Be sure to include a section in your business plan that shows various market strategies that you have created. These strategies can include your short-term startup or expansion strategy, what steps you plan on taking in the long term to ensure profit, and any special strategies that you might have developed for holidays or other situations that might cause your business to have erratic increases or decreases in revenue.
- Once you've completed the above steps, create an overall cash flow model from the various cost and income estimations. This will show interested investors, bankers, and others that your business model will be making money over the long term, which is the real purpose of a business plan. The rest of the information contained within your plan should be able to back up the estimations in your overall cash flow model.
While there may be a lot of work involved in creating a business plan, it can help you to not only create a physical representation of your business strategies for potential investors or lenders but can also help you to gain a clearer focus on your strategies by forcing you to conceptualize them in writing. This can become quite the advantage later as your plan goes into action, since you will have a much clearer idea of what you need to do and how you should go about accomplishing it. Online business management classes will also help you realize these goals, as they can show you how to best implement any business plan.