So what’s this business plan you keep hearing about? Isn’t a business plan just an old school way of saying what your business is and how you’re going to make money? Well, some of that is true. A business plan is still something every business needs to have.

A business plan lays the foundation for everything that you’re going to be building. It’s the roadmap that will determine your success and the success of your business. A business plan doesn’t have to be 40 pages long. In fact, most should only be a couple pages at most. If you Google “One-page business plan” you will see that the idea of having a one-page business plan is big.

Some business plans are written on the back of receipts. Some are written on napkins. Others are drafted up in Word documents. No matter how you go about it, having a business plan is a must – especially if you are going to seek funding from a bank or an investor.

Now, it’s important to note that just because you started writing a business plan or have “finished” one, you need to remind yourself it’s never finished. A business plan is a living, breathing document – similar to your website. It is constantly evolving and growing with your business so you want to make sure to check it frequently. I’ve added this task to my quarterly review spreadsheet right next to my estimated taxes.

Your business plan just needs to cover a few of main areas to help keep you on track and give others (like investors) an idea of what your business is and how you are going to make money. Business plans, as mentioned above, come in all shapes and sizes. You can Google business plans and find hundreds of templates and suggestions on what to include.

Typical parts of a business plan include:

  • Executive Summary Statement (do this at the end of everything)
  • Business description
  • Services
  • Mission
  • Operations
  • Team and organizational structure
  • Marketing Plan
  • Competition
  • Financial Plan (includes monthly and yearly projections in addition to are you seeking funding?)

These are just a few main parts of a business plan. If you want to see examples of business plans based on different industries check out B Plan.

By making the time to create a business plan and revisiting it every quarter or so, you are creating a best practice for your business. It really gives you perspective and reminds you whether or not you are following the right path — the one you set out on.

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