December is always a good month for reflection and future planning.  

In honor of “National Write a Business Plan Month” Felena Hanson and Melissa Lee sat down to discuss how the business plan has evolved and what you might consider as an alternate to the full-scale business plan.

Creating some sort of a business plan is one of the most important steps in launching a business.  The business plan generally outlines the route your company intends to take to reach its yearly milestones, including revenue projections. A well thought out plan also helps you to step-back and think objectively about the key elements of your business venture and informs your decision-making on a regular basis.

As a potential alternative to a full-scale business plan, the Business Model Canvas has become increasingly popular over the last decade. The business model canvas is a great tool to help you understand a business model in a straightforward, structured way. Using this canvas will lead to insights about the customers you serve, what value propositions are offered through what channels, and how your company makes money. You can also use the business model canvas to understand your own business model or that of a competitor! The Business Model Canvas was created by Alexander Osterwalder.  Over the last decade, new canvases have emerged, such as the Lean Canvas.

Which tool you choose depends on your company and audience.

SBA’s Business Plan Tool provides you with a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Essential Elements of a Good Business Plan

What are the key elements of a business plan? From market analysis to your company financials, this guide walks you through the essential components of your plan, including how to develop a funding request.

  • Executive Summary
    Your executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan as a whole and touches on your company profile and goals. Read these tips about what to include.
  • Market Analysis
    Before launching your business, it is essential for you to research your business industry, market and competitors.
  • Company Description
    Your company description provides information on what you do, what differentiates your business from others, and the markets your business serves.
  • Organization & Management
    Every business is structured differently. Find out the best organization and management structure for your business.
  • Marketing & Sales
    How do you plan to market your business? What is your sales strategy? Read more about how to include this information in your plan.
  • Service or Product Line
    What do you sell? How does it benefit your customers? What is the product lifecycle? Get tips on how to tell the story about your product or service.
  • Funding Request
    If you are seeking funding for your business, find out about the necessary information you should include in your plan.
  • Financial Projections
    If you need funding, providing financial projections to back up your request is critical. Find out what information you need to include in your financial projections for your small business.
  • Appendix
    This is a useful place to include information such as resumes, permits and leases.

Want more?  Read part two of this article.