Any individual thinking of starting his or her own business is going to need the funds to get off the ground. Procuring funds can be difficult, as financial institutions and investors want to know where there money is going to be put to use and whether the business they invest in has potential. Obtaining loans and funding isn’t guaranteed, but having a business plan to show potential investors is a good way to increase the chances.
The business plan serves a few basic purposes. It serves as an internal document for your company, helping you to maintain your focus and work toward your goals. It also serves as an introduction to your company. The most important function of the business plan, for those just starting out, is that of a marketing tool. The business plan can convince investors that your company is a worthwhile investment.
The specifics of your business plan will vary according to your industry and your personal style. However, there are certain key elements that should be included in every plan. The most important elements are, perhaps, the “Four P’s”: Product – What you are planning to sell; Price – How much you will sell it for; Place – Where you will sell it; and Promotion – How you are going to market it. It is also crucial that your business have written vision and mission statements. The difference between the two is subtle but important. A vision statement can be seen as an overall goal towards which the company will strive, and often begins with the words “To Be.” The mission statement can be seen as the practical means of achieving the vision.
It is extremely important that your business plan include a financial section. Utilizing available software options, it is possible for a new business owner with no background in finance to write this section himself. However, for right-brained people, it can be the most difficult section. It is always a good idea to have this section reviewed by an accountant. In this section, you will utilize a variety of tables to show the expected profits and losses of the business over time. Be sure to take into account seasonal fluctuations, such as the increase in retail sales during the Christmas shopping season.
There is a wealth of information available on the internet to help you write your business plan step by step. It is important to remember the purpose of a business plan, which in this case is to help you obtain funding. In a sense, you must justify the existence of your company in its business plan. Investors want to know whether they can expect a return on their investment, and they will look to your business plan to find that out.
It should go without saying that you should never attempt to pad the numbers in your business plan. Savvy investors will see through the charade, and you will not only fail to receive money from them, but you could find yourself blacklisted, unable to secure funding from any source. At the same time, investors recognize that your projections are merely an educated guess, so if you are careful to be as accurate as possible, there is no need to worry.
While funding is never guaranteed, a solid, well-crafted business plan will go a long way toward convincing investors that your business idea is sound. Reasonable estimates of your current and future financial picture, coupled with a fine-tuned vision, should eventually lead you to the capital that you require.