What is a business plan? What are the 4 key steps to a successful business plan? Is there a simplified and free business plan template?
A must for any entrepreneur wishing to enter into partnerships or obtain external financing, the business plan actually concerns all companies, even the smallest ones. This is an essential step to clarify the project and measure its profitability.
But beyond the economic objective, developing a business plan also allows you to take stock and become aware of the issues and potential of your future company.
Here is everything you need to know about the steps of creating a business plan.
Business Plan: Definition and Role
Definition: the business plan is a written and encrypted document describing an entrepreneurial project as a whole.
The business plan can be used as an internal document to the company or on the contrary be communicated in order to convince potential partners. This is the case when seeking funding: the business plan then becomes a tool for concrete presentation of the project.
To give the business plan a realistic and relevant dimension, it is important to respect the 4 stages of its design.
Create a Business Plan in 4 Steps
Developing a business plan is not improvised. If you lack time or skills, do not hesitate to hire an expert for the same. If you have time and know basics start here.
Each of the following 4 steps can be divided into a series of interrelated actions that will refine your perception of the project.
Step 1: Collect the Information
As a first step, you will need to carry out an analysis of the market context, from a macro-economic and micro-economic point of view.
The information collected in this stage of the business plan will allow to answer the following questions:
- What is your vision of the project?
- What are your goals (primary and secondary)?
- What are your missions?
- Who’s on the team? The relevance and complementarity of the profiles will have to be demonstrated.
- What are the brakes and levers of the skills to acquire?
- What’s your deal? Its maturity level and evolution?
- What is the size of the market in volume and value?
- What will be your products / services? What needs do they meet?
- Who are your competitors? Where are they? What is their strategy? How do they communicate?
- What will be your competitive advantages? Those of your competitors?
- Where Will you set up your business and why? What will be your catchment area?
- Who will be your customers? Where are they? What is their reaction to your product / service?
- Who will be your suppliers?
- What will be your distribution channels?
- What will be your pricing policy? What factors favored it?
- What will be your business strategy?
- Are there regulatory constraints to your business? What are they? How to remedy this?
- What are your initial and 3-year financial forecasts? What will be your self-financing capabilities? What about your funding needs?
This different essential information will be gathered through: a rigorous market research.
Business Plan Step 2: Make A Synthesis of The Elements
In order to make your business plan legible and accessible, you will need to make a synthetic analysis of the information.
This step is not simple: sort through the data and keep the most relevant and well-documented information. Aim for consistency of reasoning.
Business Plan Step 3: Write and Page the File
The drafting of the business plan can be very time consuming if the information synthesis step has been sloppy.
Your business plan must be written in a concise, precise and structured manner. It must also be visually pleasing. Opt for the insertion of graphic data, they will lighten the editorial content.
Aim for consistency in the timeline of the sections covered. No standards are imposed on the form, but adapt your document to your interlocutors.
Here is an example of a chapter breakdown:
- executive summary,
- presentation of the team and the project leader,
- presentation of the project itself,
- economic part,
- action plan,
- financial part,
- legal part,
- annexes, if any.
Finally, take the time to re-read your final document.
Note: to ensure the confidentiality of business plan, specify the confidential character on the document and insert the recipient’s name at the footer; send the folder in non-editable PDF format.
Business Plan Step 4: Present and Defend Your Project.
To properly present your business plan, it is necessary to master it at the fingertips: present only information that you are sure to understand well.
It is also important to regularly update your business plan information, as some markets are evolving very quickly.
Work on your executive summary and pitch to make your presentation impactful from the first moments of attention: this is often where everything plays out.