As you work on your business, one of the best things you can do is to make a business plan. Your business plan is a roadmap that can guide you as you move forward. A good plan allows you to focus your thoughts and your efforts, identify what’s essential and figure out how to measure your progress. Even if you’re a solopreneur it’s a good idea to make a business plan.

Executive Summary

Interestingly, this is the last thing you will write for your business plan, even though it is placed right after the title page of your plan document. Creating the executive summary last is a good idea because the point of this section is to sum up the entire plan, including what you want to accomplish and what sort of financing you are looking for.

Business Description

This is the area you use to describe the point of your business, as well as provide an overview of the industry as a whole. You should be clear about what your business is meant to accomplish, where it fits in the industry and whether or not you expect it to grow. This section can also include a problem statement, which allows you to describe why your business is useful and how it can solve a particular issue.

Marketing Plan

You need to have a solid idea of how you will market your product or service. This includes online strategies you plan to use to reach different target markets. Your marketing plan is a great exercise when you make a business plan because it will force you to think about your demographic and the steps you need to take in order to reach the most important players in your market. This section should also include the milestones you plan to use in order to measure success.

Analyze the Competition

It’s important to be aware of your competition when you make a business plan and put it into action. Your business plan should be honest about what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. You also need to show that you have thought about how to gain an advantage over your competitors, and what makes you different.

Product/Service Description

This is where you go into the nitty-gritty details of what you offer. If you are asking for financing from someone, then you need to be able to show how the product is made so the reader understands the production process. For a service, you need to show how your service is offered and how the delivery process is managed.

Even if you make a business plan just for yourself, this section can be helpful since it will force you to think through the logistics of your offering.

Management and Operations

You need to figure out how the business will function moving forward. This includes describing the management team and member responsibilities. If you have a larger company, you will need to describe departments and what each handles. You can also use this section to talk about possibilities of scaling up operations and what you need in order to expand your team and your business.

Finances

The last part of your business plan should be about the finances. You need to talk about the costs associated with your business, and how long you expect it to take until you are profitable.

If you are asking for funding from an outside source, you might need to include information about principal owner assets and what you are bringing to the table.

Once you make a business plan, you will find that it’s a little easier to know what you should do next and you have a clearer way forward for your company.

Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hostt, specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life. Previously he was the co-founder of Pixloo, a company that helped people sell their homes online, that was acquired in 2012.

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