To write your business plan... Uhhh!
It is certainly not the most exciting part of starting a business. In fact, if you're like many business owners, you'll probably spend a few nights doing one before moving on to your first financing proposal. Because that's the thing - your business plan is pretty important.
Every funder that's worth their money wants to see it right away. Beyond that, however, a solid business plan is a living document that will continue to guide your efforts as your business grows. I recently shared 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups, an infographic created by Mark Vital at Funders and Founders.
Many of these mistakes (most of them) are the result of poor planning. A bad location, a marginal niche, no specific user in mind, too much or too little money - all of these problems can be avoided or at least mitigated with good planning.
Creating your business plan is more than just putting your ideas on paper for potential funders to see. It's an exploratory process where you can weigh your options, test your hypotheses about your idea, and even discover new possibilities. It can even cause you to overwrite certain aspects of your business before investing too much time or money in it.
Below are the five keys to creating a great business plan cover.
To see what to include in the other sections of your plan, refer to our comprehensive business plan template.
Make sure you include the following elements on your cover page:
First, your company name should be included on the business plan cover. This should be the most important feature of the cover and, as such, is traditionally with the largest font setting. Immediately, the reader should know your company name.
The best business plan covers are those that appear to be of professional quality. This can be achieved by adding a high quality image of the company logo, as well as the font and color scheme for the company's marketing materials. Like a book cover, a business plan cover should immediately attract the reader's attention. Plans with poor coverage can fall victim to false prejudices.
When was this plan written? Readers need to know, so include the date (month and year are enough).
And what is it? The cover should indicate whether it is a business plan, executive summary, or financial projections. So, at this point, your cover page might look like this:
Note that the title and date should appear less prominently than your company name.
The executive summary of your business plan will summarize the plan's content. It is not necessary for the cover to do this either. It is also not advisable to create a business plan cover that is so graphically occupied that the information is difficult to discern. Simple, clean, and powerful are the three goals of strong business plan coverage.
Who should the reader contact if they want more information? The name and contact information of the CEO, president, owner or other important contact should not be found at the end of the document. It should be on the first page, letting the reader know who is presenting the document.
While not strictly necessary, you may want to add a confidentiality statement on your cover page, such as the following:
This document contains confidential and proprietary information from and regarding 0. This document is for informational purposes only. You may use this document for informational purposes only, and you may not reproduce any part of this document or distribute any of its contents without the prior written consent of 0. By accepting this document, you agree to be bound by these limitations and restrictions.
The title page of your business plan is crucial as it is the first thing readers will see and will give them an immediate impression as to whether you are professional or not. As such, the page is one of the critical components of a business plan. As part of your initial business plan, you should think about how you want others to perceive your business. Not only should this perception be established throughout your plan, but make sure you do so on the cover page of your business plan.
Many people ask for business plan cover letters to accompany their plans.
Most plans are emailed to investors or lenders nowadays. As such, business plan cover letters are often unnecessary. Instead, in the body of your email, you can include text such as the following: “Attached, find my business plan. I am available to discuss it at your convenience. I'm waiting for your news. "Such an email is usually sufficient if you are looking for a bank loan, VC loan, or angel investor loan.
Sometimes a simple one-page business plan template is best. Oprah.com offers three ready-made templates for various companies. You can get ideas from these ready-made templates and easily adapt them to your company.
Oprah's website doesn't offer enough choice of business types or models here for my taste. But with all of your plan details on one page, these provide an easier way to describe your small business. This is especially true when longer, multi-page business plans seem a bit overwhelming at the moment.
The Business.Govt.Nz business plan template has guides and prompts to help you think through the details of your business, from business description to competitive analysis. It outlines the steps you can take for marketing strategy, fundraising, etc. The website has some step-by-step maps, but the choices aren't that great when compared to other resources.
If you already know that you will be contacting potential investors, the free BizGym business plan template might be an ideal choice. This template is specially designed to help showcase your start-up business. You can access one-page plans, overview versions, and full business plans.
You can even invite teammates to work online and edit the plan for a collaborative effort. One of the downsides to this model is that you have to sign up for BizGym for free to access it.
If this is your first time writing a business plan, The Balance template is one of the more user-friendly options you will find. This template is the most useful on the list, in my opinion, as it is a comprehensive, well-written guide to help you through each section.
One of the downsides here is that there is a lot to sift through that many business owners may not need. The advantage of the template, however, is that you can copy and paste it into a Word document, which gives you flexibility in editing.
The BPlans template has everything you need when you need to contact investors or get a loan for your business. Students from universities like Princeton and Babson learned how to start a business here.
This template goes into the details that are important for investors and banks, which may not be right for new founders who just want to get their business basics down on paper. This will force advanced founders to think like an investor. If you don't know where to start, the BPlans library has over 500 business plan examples to inspire you.
The Plan Buildr model is a shorter, less overwhelming model and can be completed in just 10 minutes. It's broken down into easy steps and even calculates the financial data for you. One of the downsides here is that it just isn't as comprehensive as the others on my list. However, this can be an ideal choice for your first draft, especially as you are still working out the details of your financial plan.
My Own Business Institute offers a comprehensive model that is broken down into 15 different areas. This template covers everything from your vision for your new business to acquisitions, cash flow, and more.
The formatting is simple and easy to change, refine, and customize. Sections and prompts get you to actively think about business components that you may not have planned yet. This particular model may be a little too detailed for some startup founders, but that might make it a better candidate for taking portions and combining them with other models.
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