Knowledge Bin – Contents of a Business Plan
The most effective way to succeed in any venture is to plot the guiding path that will lead you to the destination of your choice. Perhaps you aim at concurring Monrovia, Liberia or the entire West African region with your product or service, but before then lay your plan down. Do these by identifying your short term and long term goals, i.e. What do you want to achieve in the next three months, six months and one year, this are your short term goals; anything beyond that is considered long term.
Analyze each goal to its respective department. For example in the sales department, what figures do you aim to achieve in the short run and long run. For customer service, how many returning customers do you expect, how do you measure customer satisfaction, what is your measure of how quickly a customer query is sorted and what do you use to gauge the performance of your company?
This is not only applicable to new comers but also those already in business who are experiencing a surcharge in orders or a decline in sales and are wondering how to handle the increased demand and how to increase sales respectively. For those already in business you need to do a financial calculation to determine where you are at, before designing a strategic plan. Now that you have established the urgent need of a business plan, what should it contain? Remember that when drafting a business plan all stakeholders should be included.
Start with the Executive Summary which will go into details about the nature of your business including your products or services and the reasons why people should choose them; it should highlight the following aspects.
- The company
- Market Structure
- History and Background
Specify what your firm will be dealing with, so that it is easy to know under which industry you fall. Provide details of your products i.e. the goods or service you will be selling. The market structure indicates your immediate target customers and why. For example, if you intend to provide cleaning services; your initial target market could be corporate and NGOs. Though you will later on go into details of how to handle the marketing aspect both short and long term.
An important element to add to this section is a brief bio of your management team and their responsibilities so that they can connect with the market. Capture the organization structure, detailing the human resource layout of the firm. Being the first document that potential investors or financiers may come in contact with, ensure it captures their attention so that they can keep reading on. Give a brief background of yourself connecting you to the venture that will credit your firm. If for example you are setting up your clothing shop, you should indicate how you are connected to the fashion world, or your passion to see people well groomed, plus years of experience at a similar venture. Don’t forget to highlight your address, telephone number, email or website if the company has one. In the coming weeks I will continue revealing other components of a credible business plan.-TM