A business plan is a document that outlines what your business concept is and how you’re going to turn that concept into financial success.
Following a proper business plan format can make a huge difference when shopping your plan around to potential lenders.
The plan does not need to be long, but it does need to cover specifics, such as how much it will cost to get your business off the ground and how you plan to market it.
With a confident and effective business plan, the bank will be assured that you are a good candidate for a loan.
The Business Plan Format
Start with a general outline of your business: explain your concept and include details such as where it will be located, number of employees, and any investors or financial support you may have for the venture. If this is your first plan, visit the business or reference section of your local library. You will likely find a business plan template that you can use for starters.
A good business plan format is to type most of your plan as explanatory text, then include spreadsheets for the financial data. Source any data you’ve procured from outside sources and be certain that all data is current. Find as many business plan examples as possible for reference.
Next, you’ll need a marketing outline. This outline essentially forms your marketing plan. Try to procure information about your target consumer within the applicable geographic zone. Project how you’ll reach your target and cite the results of similar business concepts; show how you’re improving upon their concept or business model.
Mention which advertising mediums will be effective, how many people they’ll reach, and how much they’ll cost.
You’ll also want to include your operational plan. Outline the specifics of what it will take to get your product or service to consumers. As a separate part of your operational plan, include a section outlining startup expenses. You’ll need contractor estimates, leasing estimates, and a complete inventory of initial supplies and their estimated costs. Note any supplies you may already own.
Next you’ll create a management plan. This will outline employee salaries and benefits. Don’t forget to include occasional or one-time contract employees such as attorneys, consultants, accountants, etcetera. Create job descriptions for each role (including yourself) and list each employee’s responsibilities.
The funding section outlines how much you’re asking the bank to loan you and justifies this amount. Bear in mind this section will be closely scrutinized so be sure it’s airtight.
Also necessary to the business plan format is an estimate of ongoing expenses and income after the business has gotten through the initial startup phase; a good rule of thumb is to estimate how things will be doing a year after startup. How many customers will you have per day? How much will the average customer spend? Factor in returns, breakage, accidents, any other incidental expenses.
Write With Your Target Audience In Mind
While writing your business plan, remember your target. Re-read it from the perspective of a loan officer, and think where he or she might find loopholes or discrepancies. Ask several friends (preferably people who also run a business) to proofread it as professionalism is key.
Be positive! You’re very excited about your business concept so let that spill out onto the loan officers and get them excited too…just bear in mind that they’ll review everything from a monetary perspective, so you’re going to have to convince them with facts and figures, such as why the market needs your product and how much they’re willing to pay.
These points are important and further reinforce the need to follow a proper business plan format.
Prove to the bank that they needn’t worry about their loan being repaid, and the money can be yours!