Starting a business whether you’re launching in Kansas City (or anywhere in the world) involves risk … but it should be a calculated risk. And a writing a business plan can help you run the numbers and make informed decisions to help your business succeed. Because if you dive in without checking the waters, your business idea might be doomed to sink from the start.
What is a business plan and why is it useful?
Getting Money and a Plan
First, money. A business plan is a vital planning tool and operating guide that can help convince leaders and investors, including banks, to take risk and fund your idea. Why? It clarifies your business idea and can be a tool that convinces lenders to lend funds to your venture.
But it can be more than that. It can help you set down your mission, vision, goals and first-round milestones. And even with all that, it doesn’t have to be 50 pages; there are short-form options out there.
Forming Your Strategy
And at the heart, it is
a plan after all. Your business plan helps with sales and marketing and can help you guide and manage business growth. Years later, when you’re ready to scale and grow and when you don’t really have time to consult such a plan, you can rest easy knowing you’ve got a solid foundation to build from.
Guiding Your Growth
And a final key point: Your business plan helps guide your market research and gets you thinking about things you might not consider, like your market analysis and financial and operational plans.
Now, you don’t have to write it in one shot. You can chunk out sections to finish in bite-size bits. What it should be is a living, breathing document you can update and tweak as your operation expands or if you pivot.
Making It Real
So what’s bad about a business plan?
Not everything will happen as you planned, so if you never change course or pivot, your plan is likely to fail. Because in business and in life, you have to be prepared to change course if required. And writing a business plan doesn’t guarantee success. But getting your thoughts on paper and seeing where your weak areas might be is worth a lot and will increase your chances of success.
Enter the proof point: Research shows if you’ve got a business plan, you’re far more likely (two and half times more likely, according to Clemson University entrepreneurship professor William B. Gartner) to go into business.
All this information making you a little nervous? Just tell us a bit about yourself or give us a ring at 816-235-6500, and we’ll outline your next steps (for free). We can also connect you with sample outlines to help you craft your personal game plan for your business dreams.
Sample Business Plan
So what’s actually in a business plan? Here’s what you might include:
- Business name
- Owner name(s)
- Phone number
Table of Contents
You might write this last. This single page outlines the major topics in the plan and summarizes what’s inside.
You also might save this for later once you have the rest of the content written. This is also a single page near the beginning that sums up the important parts of your plan.
These next sections get into the nitty gritty. This is where you’ll address the industry and business, products and services, goals, contingencies, continuity and exit planning. These aspects require some planning (you can call or email us for your Personal Action Plan to line up your resource team) and research, which you can do through a variety of resources (many of them FREE) … like your local library):
1. Strategic Plan
Industry and the Business
This section will include things like business type, industry description, NAICS code, trends, target market, business location, legal entity (LLC, etc.), customer persona
Goals, Contingencies, Continuity and Exit Planning
Here, you’ll focus on business goals, threats, your contingency plan and exit plan.
Products and Services
Now you’ll describe your your products and services and packaging as well as the value proposition of your products and services, the need your product or service satisfies, any seasonal demand, the product life cycle and the projected customer experience.
2. Market Analysis and Marketing Plan
Now, mention the competitive landscape, key industry metrics (gross margins, sales per employee, etc.), drivers of demand for your product or service, industry trends should you consider, consumer demands, products/services, technology and competitors.
What internal and external factors are influenced by your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
Next list the obstacles to entering the industry, the intensity of your competition, key competitors’ strengths, the alternatives to what you offer and the bargaining strength of customers and suppliers.
Your features, packaging or other differentiators for your product/service, pricing strategies, discounts, bundles, selling and purchasing locations, advertising, social media and content marketing.
3. Operational Plan
Now, highlight the day-to-day operations, delivery method of products/services, inventory management, key suppliers, operating hours, equipment and software needed and quality control.
Then, outline the legal structure of the business (LLC, etc.), ownership structure, legal resources you’ll need, what you’ll need for risk management and insurance, compliance and regulatory requirements, zoning and codes, intellectual property (trademarks, patents, proprietary methods, etc.) and the major contracts you must sign and how will those affect your business.
Then, there are concerns, like customer payments or billing and the terms of payment.
Management, Labor and Organization
Here, mention your skills and experience, the managers and key personnel, how many employees you’ll hire, how many full-time and part-time workers you’ll employ, job titles and descriptions and how you’ll train new employees.
4. Financial Plan
Have you calculated your financial projections? If you’re not sure, classes, worksheets and business services at the Kansas City Public Library in Missouri, Mid-Continent Public Library, the Small Business Administration, SCORE and more can help you tackle this.
This is where your supporting documents live. Those include leases, major contracts, letters of intent, equipment lists, construction quotes and other items you’ll want to include as supporting evidence.
Business Plan Outlines and Samples
Here are even more sample business plan outlines and resources to help you get started right now:
Who can help me with all of this?
And you don’t have to sit behind a computer. Many business-building organizations in Kansas City can help you craft your own plan. Start with this list or pop over to The Resource Navigator to filter this list by your location, industry and more.