Starting and running a business requires focus, fortitude, and perseverance. Oftentimes, you will need something external to keep you on track and guide you through difficult decisions and times. This is the purpose of a business plan. This document guides you and helps you find funding for your projects and business. Therefore, it is important that you learn how to create such a plan.

Plan Formats

First, you should understand these documents come in many formats. Your plan needs to be easy to read and should provide inspiration and guidance at every stage of your business. Therefore, your goal should be to choose a format that best suits your needs.

Although there are two main formats, you can adjust, add or remove any parts of these plans. For example, traditional formats tend to be long and filled with detail, while lean plans tend to summarize your plan information, making them quite short. All other formats should fall within these two main strategies.

Lean Business Plans

When you first start your company, you may want to start with a lean format. This plan can be compiled rather quickly because it does not have as much information as a traditional plan. However, you should be prepared to update it regularly and use it to build a full plan, especially if you need financing.

A lean plan may or may not start with an executive summary that covers everything in your plan. However, it does focus on key areas of your business. For example, you will discuss your partnerships, including your vendors, contractors, and other partners. Your plan needs information on your core business, including its key activities, value proposition, and resources. Don’t forget to discuss your target market and relationship-building strategies. Identify your expected costs and revenues as well.

Traditional Plans

Traditional plans always start with executive summaries and company descriptions. They also do an in-depth analysis of their markets, customers, and industries. These plans discuss your organizational structure and how management will be set up, including key management personnel and their knowledge, experience, and abilities. You need to identify your products and services and how you will market and sell them. Discuss how they solve your customers’ problems.

You should also include a full financial analysis and future projections. If you require funding, a request should also be included, but you need to be clear and concise in this section. Define what the money will be used for and how long you need to repay the loan or investment. Be prepared to include supporting documents.

Your business plan acts as a set of guidelines for your company. Therefore, make it a priority to build your plan.

Call one of our finance professionals at MAI Capital to get more details about any of our programs. Take advantage of our complimentary consultation and get started with financing your business today.