Nearly all solo ventures benefit from business plans. A well-written business plan can help you evaluate your competition, spot opportunities, identify resources and plan the future of your venture. If you’ve been wondering how to draw a business plan template, you’re in the right place. We’ll begin this brief guide with an overview of business plan benefits, and then we’ll show you how to write a business plan you can feel proud of.
Why write a business plan?
You have plenty to do as a small business owner — so why put another task on your to-do list? Is a business plan really essential: can’t you just take things as they come?
In a nutshell — and with very few exceptions — business plans drive success. Writing a business plan can help you figure out your goals and spot gaps in the market you hadn’t noticed before. If you think several steps ahead, you’ll also be in a much better position to compete against industry peers.
1) Understand your business better
The act of putting pen to paper can help you understand your business better. As you write your plan, you’ll refine what your ambitions are, and you’ll probably think of new ideas, too.
Begin with a short definition of your company and what you do, and then expand on each point. You might run into subjects you’re not familiar with — accounting or tax issues, for instance. If so, great: this is the perfect time to clarify any questions you have about your business.
2) Review the competition
Your business doesn’t have to be unique to be a success — but it is important to evaluate the competition. If you know what other similar businesses are doing, you can position yourself as a market leader.
You can learn from your peers, too. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where do they advertise? Have they been able to weather economic bumps in the road — and if so, how?
3) Spot gaps in the market
If you notice gaps in the marketplace while reviewing competitors, seize those opportunities. Selling points — also called ‘unique value propositions’ or USPs — include product features, lead time and customer service quality. If you can deliver bespoke locally-made furniture more quickly than your rival, for example, you gain the competitive edge.
4) Identify vital resources
To run your business efficiently, you’ll need resources: money, supplies, people and so forth. You can identify your investment needs, your supply chain and your people requirements as you write your business plan.
- Financial resources: Do you need a business loan, a financial partner or an angel investor? Would crowdfunding help you get your venture off the ground?
- Physical resources: What does your supply chain look like? Do you need to buy tech products or machines, and if so, how much will they cost?
- Human resources: Will you need to hire people in the future? Can you form mutually beneficial partnerships with other local businesspeople?
5) Map your business future
As you write your business plan, think about where you want to be five years, or ten years from now. Do you want to expand your solo venture or open a new location somewhere else? How many products do you want to sell this year? What about next year? Your business plan is the equivalent of a road map for success — even if you never show it to anyone else.
How to draw a business plan template
We’ve covered the benefits of a business plan; now we’ll talk about how to draw a business plan template. In general, business plans have seven distinct parts:
- Executive summary
- Business overview
- Market analysis
- Products and services snapshot
- Marketing plan
- Operations plan
- Financial plan
1) Executive summary
Your executive summary is an overview of your business idea. Include a basic — but compelling — definition of your business, a list of business goals, a brief product shortlist and a description of your target customers. You also need to tell the reader where and how you intend to sell your products, and what your financial strategy is.
2) Business overview
This is the part where you deep dive into your business. List your official business name, talk about your brand and define your business structure — sole proprietor, for instance, or LLC. If you have a mission statement, write it here. Explain your vision and include a brief description of your background.
3) Market analysis
Use the market analysis section to describe your competitors — and talk about any industry trends you’ve noticed. Write about the consumers you plan to target, and explain why your company is better than the competition.
4) Products and services snapshot
Expand the product snapshot you gave in your executive summary into a longer description. Explain the features and benefits of the products or services you offer, and use bullet lists to call out important points.
5) Marketing plan
Talk about how you plan to market your venture. Think about how much money you can devote to marketing, and then break your budget down: paid advertising, social media and partnerships with influencers, for example.
6) Operations plan
This is the most practical section of your business plan. In it, you’ll describe your base — your home, an office space, a warehouse or a restaurant, for instance — and you’ll define your operational needs, including equipment, supplies, shipping options, funding and other resources.
7) Financial plan
If you need a business loan, you’ll have to prove you can handle money. That’s where a written financial plan comes in handy. Most financial plans include the following three items:
- An income statement: How much money your business brings in per week, month, quarter or year — minus your business-related expenses.
- A balance sheet: A list of your business assets — your computer, your company vehicle, machinery etcetera — and your liabilities, including loan and rental payments.
- A cash flow statement: A list of when your income and your liabilities come in and go out every month. If you have more coming in than going out, you have ‘positive cash flow’ — and that can help you land a loan.
Save time on business admin with a simple app
Learning how to draw a business plan template can help propel your venture to the next level — and you’ll probably end up with a long to-do list once you get done.
Thankfully, you can simplify your financial processes with Countingup. It is the app that automates time consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK.
The app is a two in one business current account with built in accounting software. With automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances and save yourself hours of accounting admin, so you can get back to doing what you do best. Find out more here.