A guide to writing a business plan

So you want to start a business. You’ve got the idea locked down and your gut is telling your business idea has the potential to be huge but you’re just not sure where to start. There’s an overwhelming amount of information online, heaps of different articles offering tips and templates, and it’s hard to know which is the right one for you.

The good news is, is that there are no right or wrong ways to do a business plan. However, there are a few basic information that’s great to have and will make it easier for you to turn your business idea into reality. So, let’s break it down – a business plan essentially is a living document with subheadings across different categories. Think of it as mini plans for your business. It covers the most basic things you should know about your business and where you want to take it.

This template is a good place to start:

  1. Executive summary – simply put, an executive summary is an introduction to your business. Which is why should write it last. This is a quick summary of who you are, what you want to do, and what your vision is. Don’t worry about getting into too much detail or specifics here. This is only meant for your reader (or even potential business investor) to get a taste of your business.
  2. Business overview – write down all the specifics here. From the technical know-how like business name, trading name, contact details, and even a list of all your social media channels. This is a great place to keep all that information in!
  3. Mission + Strategy – what are you trying to do and how are we going to achieve that? Maybe your business will be solving a problem or will ultimately change the world for the better. Talk about that in this section and make sure to outline the steps you’re planning on taking to achieve that.
  4. Who we are – now that you’ve got your mission and strategy clear, it’s time to think about who’s going to help you make this happen. Who’s in your team? What are their roles and responsibilities? Even if you’re just a one-person show for now, it’s good to outline who you’re planning to bring in in the future.
  5. Your audience – so who are your customers? Who will be using your products or services? How old are they? Which part of the country do they live? What are their behaviours? Why are they the people who would be interested in what you offer? Do a market analysis and add that all here.
  6. Competitor – it’s great to have a handle on who your competitors are. Maybe there’s someone in the market that you really admire, or maybe your business is offering things that no one else does. Look at your industry, look at who’s doing it well, write down what you like and don’t like about them. Visit their stores, check out their social media channels, and really get a feel of who they are and who their customers are.
  7. Budget – one of the most important things to include is your budget. Sure, it may seem scary to think about finances when you haven’t even started making revenue yet. But setting clear budgets is key to knowing your limitations and will even help with some decisions you have to make down the line
  8. Timelines – when are you hoping to launch? What needs to happen before then? Set your milestones and key dates here. Now what you’re clear about when you’re launching your business, it’s time to get serious and start working on making that happen!

Remember your business plan isn’t set in stone. It can change as your business grows, you can have updated versions of it. It may seem like a lot of work now but business plans are here to propel you forward, not hold you back.