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BUSINESS PLAN PREPARATION

business

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BUSINESS

PLAN

PREPARATION

 

 

Business Plan Sections

1.     Executive Summary

2.     Strategy

3.     Business Description

4.     Products and Services

5.     Market

6.     Marketing Plan

7.     Competition

8.     Technology

9.     Operations

10.   Management

11.   Financial Position

12.   Financial Requirements

1.         EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Executive summary introduces your company and your request.  The length should be no longer than two pages.  We recommend you write this page after you have completed the remainder of your business plan.  Many people will only read the executive summary so it should entice your reader and encourage interest in your business.

The summary should outline:

Ø                  Business name, address, and contact information

Ø                  Summarize your financial request

Ø                  Brief description of your company including history, industry  

and target market

Ø                  Describe products and services and marketing mix to reach

your customers

Ø                  Explain how your company will succeed in the future

Ø                  Brief description of management capabilities

Ø                  Describe your funding requirements including how the money will be spent and repayment proposal

 


2.         STRATEGY

The strategy section of you business plan gives you (and your lender) a sense of your business direction.  It provides focus on the long-term goals and action plan.  Many business owners feel comfort reading over this section during difficult times or times of change to re-establish a sense of purpose for the business.

Mission Statement

Describe the business vision, fundamental goals or why you are in business.  This should be a brief, big picture statement including what you sell and mention the industry you compete.  Should not exceed 3-4 lines.

Long-term goals

Where do you see your company in the next 5-10 years.  Give a brief and realistic vision to your business.  Remember you are the expert in your industry and it is helpful to visualize how the industry will change in the longer.  This section is more important to the owners and senior executive team than to your lending institution.  Include secession planning if you plan to retire or sell your business.  Keep this section limited to a few lines (your management team may want to develop a more detailed plan for internal discussions).

Objectives

List 3-5 goals of your business you plan to maintain or achieve in the near future.  Your goals should be specific, measurable and time specific.  For example, if an objective is to maintain high customer service a measurable goal may include the number of returns in a given period.  You may lose focus if your list includes more than 5 goals. Ensure your short-term objectives create a path to reach your long-term objectives.

Action plans

What steps do you have in place to achieve both your short term and long-term goals?  Include current processes and changes to be implemented.  These may include changes to the management structure, sales force, location, delivery channels, pricing or quality control.

Business and industry assessment 

Strengths of your business:           List in point form 2-5 key areas that give your business a competitive advantage.  This may include management knowledge, pricing, and location.

Weaknesses of your business:   List in point form 2-5 key areas that require improvement in your business.  You should have an action plan showing how you will mitigate the risks of these weaknesses.  Do not list your action plan here but ensure it is presented clearly within your business plan.

Opportunities in your industry:  List in point form 2-5 keys areas where changes in the industry crease opportunity for your company.  This may include industry growth or changing in customer tastes.

Threats in your industry:   List in point form 2-5 key areas in your industry where change may adversely affect your business.


3.         BUSINESS DESCRIPTION

This section provides a summary of what your business sells and the ownership structure.

Business summary

Describe your business in one or two sentences.  Be as detailed as possible.  For example a restaurant may describe themselves “We are an Italian restaurant located along Gorordo Avenue in Cebu specializing in lunch and after work meals to the upper class business clientele”.  Internet companies may use their description listed on search engines.  Be careful to avoid jargon or industry specific words.

History

Give a brief description of the company’s history.  Explain the major events that lead up to this point.  List the key success factors and your niche within the industry.  This section should not exceed ½ page.  For start-up companies list the reasons why you are starting this business.

Location and Facilities

Provide your address.  Describe details about your facility such as lease expiry date, if your lease is renewable, square footage and price.  Describe any environmental concerns related to your location.  If you own the property describe the value and annual costs.

Legal form of your company

Sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation.  If your business is a corporation in the USA be sure to describe they type of corporation such as “C” (standard) or “S” (common for small businesses with limited shareholders).

Owners

List all shareholders including percent ownership.  Give a brief description their position at the company or their area of expertise.  Note shareholders that are not involved in the day-to-day operation of the business as they may be required to seek independent legal advise prior to signing a personal guarantee for a Bank loan.

If you are a public company describe key shareholders.


4.         PRODUCT OR SERVICE

Summary of products and services

Provide a list of product lines you sell. Organize your list showing your top selling product lines first.

Assessment of Products and Services 

Include a description of your product lines without using jargon or business specific terms.  Explain whether the product is already for sale of still in the development stage.  Show statistics on the product such as current sales, expected growth in sales, gross profit per unit, variable costs and fixed expenses associated directly with the product.  For products in development, provide a time line showing the steps necessary prior to having the product available for sale.  Other product lines that account for under 10% of sales should be noted but details are not necessary.

Product Differentiation

Outline in point form why people purchase your product over your competition.  What are the key selling features?  What makes your product unique? This may include innovation, pricing strategies or customer service.


5.         MARKET

This section shows lending institutions that your management team has a clear understanding of who buys your product.

Target Market

General description of your target market.  Who buys your product?  Existing businesses should provide a list of their top 5-10 customers.  New companies should provide an analysis of the target market including estimated size of the market.  Outline what percent of customers are first time buyers compared to repeat business.  For example the target market for DanCrisCredit.com is small and medium size businesses in Metro Manila looking for financing up to PhP1 million.

Niche

Specific description of the niche within the market you plan to capitalize on.  Include the size of the niche, including supporting research, and reason why these potential customers will buy your product. 

Market Segmentation

List and explain the different types of customers within your target market.  Your target market may include customer with different buying habits and reasons to purchase your goods.  Provide details on each market including demographics, buying habits and other traits separating this segment.  Provide a summary of how your company satisfies the need of your customer. 

Growth

General statement showing expected changes in your target market. Provide documentation supporting your claims of growth or decline in market size.

Price

Describe your pricing strategy.  Explain how you compete on price in a competitive market while still maintaining satisfactory profit.

6.         MARKETING PLAN

If you build it they will come does not work in today’s marketplace.

Key message

Explain how you will reach your target market.  What message and media sources will you use?  What image do you want to portray?  Describe your strategy.

Strategies

A marketing plan includes more than just advertising.  The most successful marketing campaigns incorporate a variety of methods to reach your market.  Be innovative and creative with your strategy while maintaining a common theme and image on your company.  You may consider the following:

Traditional advertising medium – Radio, television, magazines, newspapers

Internet advertising

Sales people – telemarketing, account managers

Trade shows, associations, cross marketing campaigns with your suppliers

Public relations – press releases, sponsorships, charitable donations

Specific Campaigns

Describe in detail 3-5 key marketing strategies. Show how each of these strategies enhance your image and attract customers.  Include costs, time lines, reach and expected return from each campaign.  Outline the viability of the campaign including strengths and weaknesses of medium used.

Research your competition.  If they have a marketing mix that works, you may consider a similar strategy.

7.         COMPETITION

Every business has competition.  Companies stating they have no competition lose credibility in the eyes of a lender.  It is important to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your main competitions.  Depending on your industry you may want to provide a detailed assessment of your top 3-5 competitors; more if necessary.

Primary competition



Identify your main competitor. 

Provide a detailed assessment including:

Summary of their product lines. 

Provide strengths and weaknesses. 

How do their products compare to yours?

Strength of the competition.

Provide sales estimates. 

Do they have the same target market or operate in your niche?

What are the company strengths and weaknesses including their products and services?

What is the impact on your company? 

Why will people buy your product over the competition? 

What makes your product different?

Other competitors

Identify and provide a detailed assessment (similar to that completed for your primary competitor).  Ensure you identify all major competitors and alternative services that customers may use instead of purchasing from you.

8.         TECHNOLOGY

Outline the key success factors in your industry.  Describe how your technological abilities contribute to meeting these factors.  If you are planning to purchase additional equipment or computers detail the costs and benefits.

New technology

Explain what pieces of technology you plan to implement in the short-term future.  Describe the primary uses, benefits and process steps involved.  Describe the knowledge and abilities of the people within your company are able to maintain and upkeep your investment.  Compare your current and new abilities with the competition and industry leaders.  

Internet & E-Commerce

Describe your current and future Internet presence.  Do you accept payment and delivery via the Internet?  Remember you will require a merchant Visa account to accept credit card payments through the Internet.  More advanced companies should describe in detail their e-Procurement and electronic data interchange functions.


9.         OPERATIONS

Outline how your business runs.  Include a listing of key areas/divisions in your business, who is responsible for each area and how they interact.  A process or organizational chart may be helpful.

ISO 9000

Outline all the steps necessary from marketing your business to receiving cash for a deal.  Identify if you are ISO  9000 or QS-9000 compliant

Satellite Branches

List all other offices, distribution centers or manufacturing plants where you operate.  Provide a workflow chart or explain how each of these divisions are inter-related.

Board of Directors

Explain the members of the board and their duties and backgrounds.  If you do not have a board of directors provide details of your  contingency plan or how the business operates when the owner is out of the office or on holidays.

Assessment of the operations

It is useful to include a chart outlining your process strengths and weaknesses.  Be sure to provide how you plan to overcome these weaknesses and their resulting impact on your organization.

Subcontractors

Provide a list of suppliers and sub-contractors you use.  Outline why you feel comfortable dealing with these people.

 


10.       MANAGEMENT

The success of every business depends on the people at your company.  Summarize your key contacts in each area of business.  Start with the president and people who are able to make decisions on behalf of the company.

Assessment of management

Provide a realistic assessment of management capabilities.  Outline how your strengths will ensure you are able to implement company objectives.  It is critical to identify possible weaknesses and strategies to overcome these weaknesses, such as outsourcing responsibilities, hiring a new person or independent consultants.

Management Profiles

Provide a profile of your senior management including the president and owners.  Outline responsibilities at the company, experience, education, ownership percentage, salaries and bonus structure.  Indicate if they are able to sign on behalf of the company.

A statement of net worth should be included for all owners.  You may want to include this as an appendix.  For confidentiality reasons, it is acceptable for the individual owners to attached sealed envelopes or provide this information directly to the Bank.

Employees

Outline your current employee base including pay structure.  How many employees do you have?  What are your fixed salary expenses? What percent commission do your sales people receive?  How will this structure change in the future?

Resources

Provide a list of your business resources.  Include your key contact, name of the company and telephone number.  This list should include your accountant, lawyer, existing banker, owners and other key contacts.

11.       FINANCIAL POSITION AND PROJECTIONS

Company financial strength for existing companies

Include key financial information such as:

Balance sheet

Income statement

Cash flow

Monthly cash flow projection

Summary of key ratios

Existing companies should provide two years of history and two-five years projections.

Other financial information you may want to include:

Size of your target market

Percentage of the market your company controls

Competitors strength in the market

Industry standard financial ratios (compare to your company)

Aged list of your accounts receivable (include company name and number of days the receivable is outstanding)

Aged list of accounts payable (include company name and number of days the payable is outstanding)

Inventory listing (include obsolete inventory)

Details of existing loans including amount, repayment terms and collateral

(For New companies)

Provide projected financial information including:

Opening balance sheet

Projected balance sheet for 2-5 years

Projected income statement for 2-5 years

Projected cash flow statements

Monthly cash flow projection for next 12-24 months

 

Personal Statement of Affairs

Provide a listing of assets and liabilities completed by each of the major owners of the company (shareholders that own greater than 10% control


12.       FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS

Provide a financial proposal.  Be specific when you outline how much money is required.  Include uses for the funds, supplier quotes, proposed repayment terms, sources of repayment for the loan (cash flow) and collateral. Owners should have a clear understanding of their financial requirements including likely terms, conditions and other required supporting documentation. You are more likely to receive financing if you understand the lending process and make it easy for your banker to review your request.

Provide a commentary on what you want to purchase and why.  Show how the funds will benefit your company and prove that you are able to repay the loan.

Provide commentary to any extraordinary items on the financial information of the business and personal credit of the owners.  Bankers do not like surprise.  This may include an explanation on your accounts receivable terms, an item showing late payment on your credit bureau or other items specific to your company.

It is advisable to research different types of loans to understand the requirements and terms prior to meeting with an account manager at your bank.  We strongly encourage you to discuss the implications related to borrowing funds with your accountant and lawyer.  Although most bank security forms are standard, it is strongly encouraged to have a lawyer review and explain the documents prior to signing.

 


Final Step

Make sure you review

your business plan regularly and make necessary updates.


Starting a business

by

Brad Ross

Each small business is as unique as the entrepreneur running the business, and there is no one standard formulae for starting your own business.  However, there are key success factors to help guide your business and ensure you are on a solid foundation before you open the doors.

Abilities

The first is to assess your own personal capabilities, resources and characteristics.  Why are you going into business for yourself?  What are your strengths?  What areas need improvement?  What resources are available to you? Take a personal inventory.

Research

This is the most important step, and should take the most time. It is important to fully understand the market for your product or service.  Market research involves learning about the industry, traits and buying habits of potential customers, any government guidelines, and the strengths and weaknesses of your competition.  While conducting market research you will get a good sense of whether you can implement your business idea and be successful.  You may want to draw a path of where the industry has been and the possible future paths. 

Marketing Plan “the 6 P’s”

Product:  What are you selling?  Be very specific and detailed on this question, it will help keep your focus throughout this process.  What are the important features and benefits that will encourage a person to buy your product or service?  A good product will satisfy either a real or perceived need of your customer. 

Price:   How will you price your product so it is low enough for a customer to purchase yet high enough to cover all fixed and variable expenses of your business and make a profit.  Price should reflect the image of your product, for example, is your product a premium product, discount type product, or somewhere in between.  A good rule of thumb is charge what the market will bear.  You should know that from the research that you have done. 

Promotion:   How will customers find out about your product or service?  What form of advertising will you use?  Who will you be promoting your product to?  What message and image do you want to promote through the various forms of advertising?  How much can you afford to spend?  Some lower cost forms of promotion are; flyers, radio, Internet, word of mouth.  Some more expensive tools are television, sampling, and tradeshows. 

Path of Distribution:   How will you deliver your product to your customer?  Do your customers visit you or do you have salespeople visit your customers?  Will you sell direct or through a distributor, or retail store?  Do you rely on a supplier to provide raw materials to you?  If so, what suppliers are available, and what is the quality and price of their goods?  Does your supplier fit your goal?  Did you compare suppliers to get the best deal? 

People:  Who is involved in your business?  Do you have employees?  How much do they cost?  How many can you afford?  How much do you cost?  Do you work well with the people you work with?  How do you keep everyone happy? 

Process:   What are the steps, from beginning to end, of the entire cycle.  The best way to do this is a “flow chart”.  List the major factors along top, and then break them down into more detail underneath.  As well as just clarifying what it is you actually do, this will also help you find inefficiencies in your process.

Logistics

How will your business operate day-by-day?  Where will your office be located?  What is the name of your company, and can you register it?  What equipment, supplies, employees and materials are required to start your business?  Most important is how much will it cost? 

Business Plan

Proper planning for your business-financial, operational, marketing, management-is the key to turning your idea into reality.  A business plan is a working document outlining all key aspect of your business and action plan to assist in reaching your goals.  A business plan should be revisited regularly and act as a guide for decision-making. 

Money 

You will require money to launch your business.  The way you structure your financing depends on how much you need, how you plan to use the money, how long you require it, and how you’ll repay.  In most situations a combination of debt and equity is the most effective way to go. 

Debt Financing

This is the money you borrow to run your business.  You will need to know how lenders evaluate your business based on the strength of your business plan, management capabilities, repayment abilities, security, and credit history to evaluate your company’s chances of success. 

Equity Financing

This is the amount the owners inject into a company.  The most likely sources for equity financing for start up businesses are your personal savings and money from people you know.  It is a challenging task to find outside investors for any new business. 

Maintaining a healthy business 

Once your business is up and running, the challenges do not stop.  Here are some tips to maintain a healthy business: 

Cash is more important than profit.  Cash is what pays for employees, supplies, and repays your loan.  Rapid growth without a control on cash flow can lead to low liquidity, trouble paying the bills, and eventually bankruptcy.

Develop a good relationship with your suppliers and lenders.  You may require assistance in the future. 

Pay all bills (both business and personal) on time.  Bad debt situations such as bounced checks or late credit card payments should be avoided at all times. 

Be realistic about your capabilities and the amount of work you take on.  Many businesses become discouraged when profits do not automatically materialize because of underutilization.  Another trap is over utilization, which leads to not being able to deliver a quality product on time. 

As stated above, review your business plan and cash flow regularly.

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