Why should a Business Plan be drawn up?

The aim of a business plan is to establish clearly which goals and objectives must be achieved in order for the business to succeed and how these will be attained. It enables entrepreneurs to strategically plan for any unforeseen events or new competitors that enter the marketplace. The idea is to create a set of planning objectives that effectively outline how the business will be run, potential risk factors and effective marketing strategies.

What does a Business Plan look like?

A comprehensive business plan should include:

An overview of the Team which developed the idea,the business concepts and the level of investment requested should be provided.

The description of the business opportunity need to be specified, focusing primarily on the product and the market it will serve as well as its structure. The concept should identify what will be sold, to whom, where and why the business will hold a competitive advantage. A description of the products and the industry should be provided including the present outlook including any future possibilities and information on all the relevant markets within the industry. Any new products or developments that will benefit or adversely affect the business should be also included.

This section should provide an understanding of the industry including its size, marketing trends and growth rates, as well as the target group of customers which are most likely purchase the product or service. The business plan should include an assessment of the most relevant marketing activities for each specific project and outline a marketing plan to introduce the product or service.

An identification of the potential competition which the product will face and the business strategy adopted to face any competition needs to be assessed. Through a Competitive Analysis one should determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within the relevant market, strategies that will provide a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering the market and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle.

The purpose of this plan is to provide a description of the product’s design and the necessary stages to develop the product including the development financial budget.

The operations and management plan is designed to describe how the business will function on a continuing basis. It will highlight the logistics of the organization, including various responsibilities of the management team, tasks assigned to each division, and any capital and expense that would be required in relation to the operations of the business.

This profile should include four main aspects, the financial requirements, clearly stating the capital needed to start the business and to expand; the level of sales and profits; the cash flow and the return on investment.

This section should detail any developments which have happened, or are required, in order for the business to be a success, such as patents, prototypes, location of a facility, any crucial contracts that need to be in place for product development, or results from any test marketing that has been conducted.