If you’re looking to complete a business plan on your own, you will find a number of resources available here.
Be patient, keep in mind that the SBA estimates it takes a first time writer in the neighborhood of 100 hours to complete a business plan.
Hopefully these tips will offer a significant time-savings by providing direction. Should you need assistance or advice at any time during the course of your work, feel free to contact us with questions, concerns, or to take advantage of our business plan services.
The two most important elements of your business plan are the Market Analysis and Financials. These are especially crucial if you are seeking funding. A lender or Venture Capitalist will focus first on these two areas, and consequently, these are (and should be) the most time consuming aspect of your plan.
Pro Forma Financials
Your start-up costs indicate the capital requirement. The Income Statement indicates your grasp on the company’s operations. If assumptions aren’t accurate, or if you’ve indexed unreasonable revenue, profit, or company growth, you will likely be thanked for your time and your funding request declined. You don’t always have to show explosive growth, rather a solid concept, good understanding of your operations, long-term growth potential and viability, satisfactory increase in equity if in the initial stages of an asset-heavy endeavor, etc.
The Market Analysis is another key section of the Business Plan. A thoroughly researched and optimally presented Market Analysis will demonstrate your understanding of market opportunity, structure, and positioning. Frequently, inexperienced writers will begin drafting this section and shift to discuss company operations, features, etc. This section is a pointed analysis of your market and must stay directly on topic.
In your market analysis, consider the type of business you intend to operate. Think about your competition. What do these business offer, and what makes them profitable? This will give you a broad understanding of the environment you are operating in.
Your first key source of information us understanding your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. NAICS is used by business and government to classify business establishments according to type of economic activity (process of production) in Canada, Mexico and the United States. This website contains great information to start your analysis.
Once you have this information, you can look at the most recent Economic Census Data. The Economic Census profiles the US economy every 5 years, from the national to the local level. Results will provide information on businesses operating at more than 21 million locations, giving key information on the number of businesses and employees, the value of shipments, sales, receipts, revenue and payroll.
These two website should give you enough information to begin a solid market analysis. For more detail, you may wish to go to the Census Fact Finder website and pull reports based on specific locality, industry, etc.