In reality there is no standard format for the presentation of a good business plan. Business plans vary in content and size according to the nature and size of the business concerned and on the emphasis that is placed on certain critical areas as opposed to others.
Every business plan should address a number of fundamental issues without which it would not be complete. These issues can be grouped under six major areas that are the pillars of every business activity whether large or small. These are:
- Sales and Marketing
- Human Resources
- Information & Communication Technologies (ICT)
- Information Management
Essential Contents of a Business Plan made simple
The table below lists the important elements of a business plan and offers some simple points that need to be taken into consideration in each section. It is worth noting that these points are by no means exhaustive and are meant to serve only as examples. The list is intended to provide you with a simple format upon which to base your business plan.
The format provides you with a framework for presenting your thoughts, ideas and strategies in a logical, consistent and coherent manner. In other words, the business plan format helps you to clarify your own ideas and present them clearly to others.
- Executive Summary
- Enterprise Description
- Product or Service Description
- Industry Analysis
- Competition Analysis
- Swot Analysis
- Marketing Sub-Plan
- Operations Sub-Plan
- Human Resources Sub-Plan
- The Budget
- Financial Sub-Plan
- Selected Options and Critical Measures
- Milestone Schedule
What am I in for?
Many people start their own business because they hope it will provide them with more income. Others seek greater flexibility to balance work with family life. However, the reality of running your own business can be a shock. There is plenty to take in when you start running your new business. At any one time, you might be working furiously to meet an important project deadline while completing the required compliance forms and dealing with local authorities about your health and safety or environment responsibilities.
Running a business will inevitably involve huge responsibilities. Daily important decisions will often affect your personal life and that of your employees.
This venture can therefore be a rollercoaster. There will be days when you wonder why you did it – and others when you wouldn’t have it any other way. In this section, you'll find tips on how to look after your company, fulfilling your responsibilities and developing your business.
The challenge in growing your business is to keep a step ahead of changing market conditions and other important variables such as innovative technologies and the evolution of customer needs. How individual companies react to future conditions often depends on which stage in the business life cycle they are. Business owners might be interested in expanding their business but would not know what the next step is. It does not make sense to try to venture into exports right away for example; you would first need to consolidate your operations and bring them up to scratch to meet foreign market standards. Here are a few tips on the first steps on how to grow a small business:
- Use Internet and email – This may sound obvious, the benefits of these tools cannot be understated. Remember to be professional in your communications.
- Market your business at every opportunity - Give potential customers something to remember your business by, even a business card will do the trick.
- Keep up to date with industry trends - Be among the first to know of new technologies that can be used to improve your products.
- Invest in a website - It gives potential customers the freedom to check out your product or service before visiting your outlet. A website should be informative first and fancy later.
- Use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat - Besides being the latest trend and an interactive way to reach out to customers, it is also very cost-effective.
- Invest in good market research - This is will avoid wasting time and money when planning a new product or service.
Consider sponsorships – Sponsoring events will help you get your name out there, improve your public relations and help you build your profile and integrity.