Starting a business is a big endeavor.  Challenging, exciting, terrifying and fun all at once.

One of the first and most important steps in starting your own business is creating a business plan.  Here are some pointers, taken from the book Get Growing – Keys to Unlocking the Potential of Your Small Business by David Wilton & Kyle McNamara.

Writing a Business Plan

Unlocking Key: The construction of a written business plan creates a road map to success

Many entrepreneurs identified a business plan as the cornerstone of their businesses.  It became a guide for them and all their stakeholders, including employees, investors, suppliers and advisers.

There is no need to be intimidated by the thought of constructing a business plan. It doesn’t need to be long- just straightforward and concise. When business owners showed us their business plans, they typically included the following elements:

Executive summary

The executive summary concisely highlights the information and insights found within the business plan.

Business Description

This section of the business plan contains information about the business, including a background on how the enterprise came about and what it has achieved, a definition of what’s important to the business and a short description of the products or services it provides. The business description also establishes specific milestones for measuring success in the future.

Marketplace

The marketplace section explains how the business is positioned in a larger context.  It identifies and examines the competition and describes the type of customers that the business actively targets.

Sales and Marketing

Very simply, this portion of the business plan focuses on the business’s strategy for attracting new customers and keeping its existing customer base.

Business Operations

The business operations section answers questions such as ‘How does this business work?’ ‘Who are its suppliers?’ ‘What level of staffing is required?’

Financial Information

Finally, this section provides the financial skeleton of the business, including historical results, the current balance sheet showing what the company owns and what it owes, as well as projected balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow projections that will reflect the growth of the business over time.  It’s also important to include personal financial statements for the owners of the business to demonstrate their ability to contribute to the business.

The Get Growing book is available online or at Chapters and Indigo stores and on their website.