Small Business Survival Part 2

We’ve discussed the importance of planning. Your business plan is the documentation of that planning – one of the most important documents you will create as a business owner. It can get you started on the right foot or doom you to disaster. Your plan should include projections for your business over the next three-to-five years. If you don’t have one, read on. Your survival depends on it.

While individual circumstances influence the form and content of your business plan, all of them should include the following eight sections:

Executive Summary: A synopsis of your business plan that explains your goals and the contemplated profile of your company.

Company Description: You must give readers, especially bankers, a reason to believe in your business. Describe what makes you and your ideas unique and how this will translate into market share. You can also display your industry knowledge in this section.

Market Analysis: Expand on your discussion of your industry segment and the existing competition. Who will buy your product or service, and why? How big is the market, will it grow or is it saturated?

Organization and Management: You need to lay out how the business will be run. Your management structure should reflect your unique needs. How will responsibilities be distributed? How will you respond to unanticipated demand for your offering? Do you have particular people already lined up, or is recruiting yet to be done?

Service or Product Line: What exactly are you offering? Describe in some detail the product or service you will provide. How does it benefit customers? Are there stages of production or demand? Go into detail about your suppliers, vendors and facilities. Describe how you will handle distribution, if appropriate.

Marketing and Sales: What is the plan to create demand for your offering? Do you have a plan to create leads and convert them to customers? What is your budget for advertising and promotion? Are you strictly local, or do you have regional or national ambitions? Your sales strategy will ultimately determine whether or not you succeed.

Request for Funding: Customized for each potential lender or investor, this section should describe why a funding source should risk their resources on your venture. How risky is the venture? Banks really like to be repaid on time – if you can’t explain how you plan to do so, you have a big problem. Your experience and expertise can be decisive in lining up financing, so don’t be shy.

Financial Projections: Either you know finance or you have someone on retainer who does. In any event, you must project your finances for at least one year into the future, more if possible. You’ll need projected income statements, balance sheets, the works. Be realistic in your projections – last thing you want is a lawsuit for misleading your investors.
*Add an appendix to house the odds and ends of your plan that don’t fit elsewhere -such as permits, resumes and alike.
It’s a lot of work, but heck, if you were afraid of a little sweat, you wouldn’t be a business owner in the first place!

Read more about what goes into each section of your business plan, and download templates to guide you through the process.

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Brian Sutter

Brian Sutter

Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. He also writes and speaks on topics related to helping small business owners grow their business and improve operational efficiency.
Brian Sutter
Brian Sutter