The mother of all business plan templates

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how-to-write-a-business-plan-logo largeTo write or not to write a business plan, when to write a business plan, these are some of the questions that I come across a lot. According to just under 90% of the 100+ founders of web biased technology companies that we have interviewed, you should not focus on writing a business plan… especially when you are in the infant stages of your company’s life cycle. The reason is that when you are starting a company there are far more pressing things to focus on than writing a detailed business plan with a well thought out financial forecast that has no real chance of being even close to accurate. There are really two good alternatives to writing a business plan 1) Write a business model, this idea is championed by Guy Kawasaki or 2) The Lean Startup process, coined by Eric Ries.

The true value of the business plan template below is not in filling it out but thinking about the points of focus and using them as areas to keep in mind and refer back to as you spend your time building your company. Also, writing a super light version of a business plan or an Executive Summary can really help you find better ways to voice what you do as a company. However, if you feel that you do need a thorough business plan, this is as detailed a template as you can get.

Business Plan Template

Company Name:
Proprietor Name(s):
Address:
Phone number:

Email:

Table of Contents
If you wish you can create page numbers on the table. However this is not a requirement for the business plan

1. Executive Summary
2. Business Overview
2.1 Proprietor’s background and suitability
2.2 Nature of business
2.3 Business name and address
2.4 Business vision and objectives
3. Marketing Plan
3.1 Marketing Objective
3.2 Define the business and product
3.3 Market segmentation
3.4 Target market
3.5 Market research
3.5i Marketing research objectives
3.5ii Situation Analysis
3.5iii Class brainstorming session
3.5iv Survey results and conclusions
3.5v Competitor analysis
3.5vi SWOT analysis
3.5vii Competitive advantage
3.5viii Potential market
3.5ix Market testing
3.6 Marketing strategies
3.7 Action planning, implementation and evaluation
3.8 Monitoring and improving marketing performance
4. Operational Plan
4.1 Legal and Administrative Requirements
4.1i Business Structure
4.1ii Regulatory requirements
4.1iii Insurance
4.1iv Risk management
4.1v Administrative forms and contracts
4.1vi Sources of advice
4.2 Business Operation
4.2i Hours of operation
4.2ii Proposed trading terms/warranties
4.2iii Outline of production or service process
4.3 Resource requirements
4.3i Physical resources
4.3ii Human resources
4.3iii Suppliers
4.3iv Use of technology
4.3v Business location
4.3vi Resource planning and monitoring
4.3vii Strategies to deal with ill health and sudden increase in demand
5. Financial Plan
5.1 Set up costs/how business is financed
5.2 Calculation of prices and charges
5.3 Financial Worksheets
6 Appendices

1. Executive Summary
This section is optional. It should be completed last and is a synopsis of the main points in your Business Plan.

2. Business Overview


2.1 Proprietor’s background and suitability
How did you determine your business idea? Why do you wish to pursue the idea? What skills and/or experience will you bring to this business?

2.2 Nature of the business
Explain the type of business. What is the present stage of development of the business? Has it commenced operating? Has it operated at a hobby level?

2.3 Business name and address
Has the business name been registered? What is the address of where you intend to locate the business (full address)? Indicate whether it will be home-based or if you need to lease a business space.

2.4 Business vision and objectives
Visualize the business at some future point and state your vision.
What are the goals and objectives you wish to strive for in order to achieve your vision and business success. List objectives which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time framed under the following headings.

  • Business
  • Financial
  • Personal
  • Marketing Plan
  • Marketing Objectives

(You may wish to do this section after you have completed the rest of the marketing plan)

3.2 Define the business and product

  • Define the business in a marketing orientated way
  • List your products/services

3.3 Market segmentation

  • What are the different segments of the overall market that you could sell to? List all the markets that may be potentially interested in your products.
  • Match your different products/services with the identified segments?

3.4 Target market

  • Which of these segments will the business target? Explain the reasoning for this. What sources of information has been used to assist with this decision?
  • Explain the targeting strategy the business will use to best meet the requirements of the business.
  • Provide a profile of the typical customer within these target segment(s) outlining their attributes and what influences their buying behaviour.
  • State the positioning strategy to be employed for each of these segments?

3.5 Market Research
Instructions:
Observe the following when presenting research information. State clearly where you sourced any of the information that is included in the business plan. Ensure that assumptions and any conclusions drawn from the research presented are valid, reliable and relevant and supported by evidence. State the marketing implications of the conclusions or how they contribute to the achievement of your business objectives.

3.5 i Marketing research objectives

  • Who is interested in my business?
  • How will/did you collect and organise this information for analysis? What methods will be used to ensure relevance and accuracy of the information?

3.5 ii Situation Analysis

  • Industry Trends – What is the current state of your industry? 
  • Marketing Environment – Are there any forces or trends in the marketing environment which may parallel, contradict or align with your business? Explain these forces or trends and state their marketing implications (refer to the relevant section in the marketing booklet)

3.5 iii Brainstorming Session [Optional]

  • What feedback do others give you about your product or service? Have a group of 6 people discuss the following questions in relation to your business:
  • What is the product? Who would buy it? Why would they buy it?
  • State the outcomes of this session. What was confirmed? What other options or issues were raised?

3.5 iv Survey Results and Conclusions
Conduct surveys on each of the following 2 groups and ensure that sample copies of the survey are included in the appendix:
1. Potential Customers
2. Competitor

State clearly:

  • How many people/ businesses were approached and the response rate.
  • How the sample was chosen.
  • The results
  • The marketing implications of the results under each individual question

3.5 v Competitor Analysis

  • Identify your competitors – direct and indirect 
  • Research the extent of competition – how many of them are there? Ease of entry into the market place?
  • Individual competitor analysis – take a close look at a few of your main competitors. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of the competitors you choose to analyse?

3.5 vi SWOT Analysis
What are your strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the competition and what opportunities and threats have you identified in the marketplace?

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats 
  • Strategies to build on strengths and opportunities 
  • Strategies to minimise or address weaknesses and threats

3.5 vii Competitive Advantage

  • Using the research information you have gathered so far, what do you perceive as being your competitive advantage i.e. how will you differentiate and position your business?
  • Does this correspond to the positioning strategy stated above?
  • How will you ensure that your positioning strategy is implemented?

3.5 viii Potential Market
Using the research information and your survey results, calculate potential demand within the market place. To do this, use a systematic and structured approach and state clearly the parameters of your calculation.

3.5 ix Market Testing

  • Have you tested the market? If so:
  • What sales have you had recently? Provide details e.g. date, nature of job,
  • $ value of job.
  • What promotion has been carried out and what has been the outcome of this?
  • Was there any interest generated through your survey of potential customers.
  • Are there any orders or bookings for your product or service? 
  • Have any quotations been given?

Provide supporting evidence in the appendices e.g. quotations, invoices, bookings, expressions of interest

3.6 Marketing Strategies
Product

  • What is your product mix strategy – expansion, consolidation, specialization, etc?
  • Do you have any plans to reposition your product – trade up or trade down?
  • Do you intend to enter new markets or diversify your product range to cater for new markets?
  • Do you intend to brand, redesign or add new features to the product?

Price

  • What is your pricing strategy- cost plus, going rate, skimming, penetration perceived value?
  • What are the main marketing objectives behind your strategy?
  • Will you use price modifiers such as discounting, allowances or adjustment according to when payment is made?

Place/Distribution

  • How will the product be made accessible to the customer? What channels of distribution will be used.
  • How will the logistics function be managed?
  • How will the cost of providing a desired level of customer service be minimized through distribution decisions?

Promotion

  • What are the main objectives of your promotional effort?
  • What are the main messages you will be communicating to your market? Will these vary from segment to segment?
  • Which elements of the promotional mix do you intend to use and why? How will you integrate these various elements?

3.7 Action planning, implementation & evaluation

  • What functions within your business require action plans to ensure the implementation of your marketing strategies and your business plan as a whole? List these.
  • As a minimum put together an action plan for one of these identified functions.
  • Also complete the ‘Market Plan Year 1 Worksheet’ in the Excel file.

3.8 Monitoring and improving marketing performance
To aid business decisions how will monitoring and investigation occur in the following areas:

  • Changes in the marketing environment
  • Customer requirements and reaction to your marketing mix
  • Do you have any strategies to address possible non conformance to the plan4. Operational Plan4.1 Legal and Administrative Requirements

4.1 i Business structure
Will your business operate as a Sole Trader, Partnership, or Company? State the reasons for your choice.

4.1 ii Regulatory Requirements
List and describe any local, state or federal government legislative or regulatory requirements that affect or impinge on your business. These may include, but not be restricted to the following:

  1. Registration of business name. 
  2. Taxation obligations Council approval. 
  3. Health and safety permits.
  4. Environmental requirements 
  5. Relevant industry codes of practice
  6. Patents and trademarks
  7. Conditions applying to production and provision of relevant products

4.1 iii Insurance
What insurance cover is required for your business e.g public liability, fire and theft, professional indemnity?
Refer to list of possible insurers on your disk or contact your current insurer.

4.1 iv Risk Management
What are the OH&S issues relating to your business? (Refer to the Small Business Safety Assessment Tool on www.workcover.vic.gov.au

What business procedures will be put in place to monitor and ensure compliance with any regulatory and insurance requirements identified above?

Are there any other risks associated with the operation of your particular business which need to be managed?

4.1 v Administrative Forms and Contracts
What legal documents relating to your business need to be developed and maintained? These may include, but not be restricted to the following:

  • Agency agreements/contractual procurement rights
  • Employment agreement
  • Terms of trade
  • Partnership agreements
  • Confidentiality agreements
  • Consignment agreements
  • Supplier agreements
  • Lease agreements
  • Quotation forms
  • Policy for terms and types of payment from customers
  • Contractual procurement rights
  • Copies of these documents are to be included in the appendices

4.1 vi Sources of Advice
Are there any sources of advice (e.g lawyers, accountants, industry associations, etc.) which the business needs to refer to or join?

Business Operation

4.2 i Hours of operation

  • What are the hours/days that your business will be open? 
  • What are the times when customers/clients, suppliers can contact you. 

4.2 ii Proposed trading terms/warranties

  • What are the types of payment you will accept from customers?
  • What terms of payment will you offer customers?

4.2 iii Outline of production or service process

  • What are the processes required to bring your product or service to a marketable state, or the process from customer inquiry through to service delivery and follow-up?

Resource requirements

 

4.3 i Physical Resources

  • List any stock or equipment you currently own that will be used by the business. Give each of these items a current market value
  • What stock or equipment will you need to purchase or lease in order to start your business? What will be the cost of these items?

Assets/equipment owned $ Value Assets/equipment needed $ Cost

4.3 ii Human Resources

  • List the skills and competencies required in the business?
  • What are the key roles to be performed and who will perform them?
  • Is there a strategy to maximise human resources?

4.3 iii Suppliers

  • Who are the suppliers of your raw materials, stock and equipment?
  • What trading terms and quantities can be negotiated with these suppliers?

4.3 iv Use of technology

  • How will you utilise technology in your business operation?

4.3 v Business Location

  • Justify the location of the business, addressing financial considerations, delivery issues, accessibility, distribution channels, etc.
  • How would you describe the layout of your premises? A map or flow chart may be relevant and can be included in the appendix.
  • Will there be any business related overseas travel within the first twelve months of your business operation? Provide details relating to the main objectives of the travel, when it is likely to occur and expected length of stay.

4.3 vi Resource Planning and Monitoring

  • Inventory Control – What will be the process for ordering and monitoring any stock that you carry in your business? Where are you going to store your stock? Are there any special security, quality control or storage requirements, etc?
  • Physical resources –What systems will be put in place to record and monitor resource usage?
  • Human resources – How will the specific interests of staff be identified and their support of planned business direction be sought and confirmed?
  • Measuring effectiveness – How will the effectiveness of your resource planning be measured?

4.3 vii Strategies to deal with ill health and sudden increase in demand

  • What contingency plans do you have for both of these occurrences?

Financial Plan

5.1 Set up costs/how business is financed
Do you require funds to set up your business?
If you established in sections 4.3.i that you require funds, then indicate here the total amount required. Also explain where these finds will come from.

5.2 Calculation of prices and charges
What are the prices or charges for your products and services? How did you decide upon this pricing structure? You may include a price list if necessary.

Service Price

5.3 Financial Worksheets

Set up Details

  • Personal Cashflow
  • Year one only
  • Sales Forecasts
  • Years one and two
  • Business Cashflows
  • Years one and two
  • Profit and Loss Statement
  • Years one and two
  • End of Year Balance sheets
  • Years one and two

These pages also contain financial ratios, including break even analysis, for years one and two.

5. Appendices
Provide photocopies of any of the following, or any other supporting materials which relate to your business.

  • Business Name Registration certificate
  • Insurance policies or copies of quotes
  • Resume 
  • Membership of professional bodies
  • Samples of promotional literature
  • Any other relevant documentation

 

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