Essential Elements of a Business Plan

essential elements of a business plan windy lawson

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I wrote an impassioned argument for why every microbusiness owner (including a 12-year-old budding entrepreneur who doesn’t want to spend her days scraping gum off the bottom of middle school chairs) needs a business plan. But this doesn’t need to be the stuffy, 47-page-plus-appendices document that so many people envision. It’s perfectly acceptable to pare it down to a document you’ll actually want to write and use. Let’s dig into the essential elements of a business plan for a microbusiness owner.

Company overview: What is your company’s mission statement? Why does your company exist? What problem does your company solve? What are the goals of the company?

Products and Services: What products or services are you offering? How are your products or services different from others? What is the price point? Who are your suppliers/vendors?

Market Analysis: Who is your target market? Who is your competition? How will you differentiate yourself from her? Keep in mind your competition isn’t just other companies who sell the same thing you do. Sure, as a business coach, my competition includes other business coaches, but also business books, seminars, formal education, etc. Think broadly. 

Marketing & Sales Plan: How will you market your product? What is your marketing budget? How will you measure your marketing initiatives? How will you sell your product or services? 

SWOT Analysis: What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? 

  • Strengths: In what areas does your company crush the competition? What do you do that your competition can’t or won’t do? What would your customers say is your strength?
  • Weaknesses: What could you improve? What would your customers say is your weakness?
  • Opportunities: Do your strengths present any opportunities? What industry trends are creating opportunities for your business?
  • Threats: Do your weaknesses present any threats? What industry trends could create threats for your business?

Financial Picture: What is the projected revenue? What is the operating budget? Yes, you need both. No, it’s not optional.

By sticking to the essential elements of a business plan, you can create your business plan in a day or less. Remember, it’s not a tattoo, you can modify it down the road, and you likely will, as you and your company evolve and grow.

Feeling overwhelmed? Then let’s talk about working with me.

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