A Business Plan is a written document that describes in detail how a business defines its objectives and how it is to go about achieving its goals. A Business Plan lays out a written roadmap for operations, marketing, and finances. Although they’re especially useful for new businesses, every company should have a business plan. Ideally, the plan is reviewed and updated periodically to see if goals have been met or have changed and evolved.
Why do you need a Business Plan?
Business planning is important because it establishes the direction of the business. When people have a plan in place, they avoid many pitfalls that others do not anticipate. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Approximately 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of the second year, 30 percent of businesses will have failed. By the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed. And by the end of the decade, only 30 percent of businesses will remain – a 70 percent failure rate.” With many businesses failing within their first few years, a sound plan is like a compass to navigate through the obstacles.
What are the Key Elements of a Business Plan?
• Executive Summary: The executive summary is the first and one of the most critical parts of a business plan. Your executive summary should include your organization’s mission statement and the products and services you plan to offer. It’s often best to write the executive summary last so that you have a complete understanding of your plan and can effectively summarize it.
• Company Description: The next part of a business plan is the company description. This component provides a comprehensive description of your business and its goals, products, services, and target customer base. You should also include you and your team’s experience in the industry and what sets your company apart from the competition.
• Market Analysis & Strategy: The purpose of the market analysis and strategy component of a business plan is to research and identify a company’s primary target audience and where to find this audience. Factors to include are the areas you plan to service, the demographics of your audience, and where your target audience spends most of their time, such as particular social media platforms.
• Marketing Sales & Plan: This part of your business plan should cover the specifics of how you plan to market and sell your products and services. It should include your marketing and promotion strategies, pricing plans, why your audience should purchase from your company and the platforms you will use to get your products and services in front of your audience.
• Operations: This part of your plan should describe how you plan to run your company. Include information about how and where your company will operate, if you will hire employees, insurance information, taxes, and licenses.
What Resources are available to help with your business plan?
SCORE has the largest network of free volunteer small business mentors in the nation. These mentors can help you start, grow, or transition your business. They also offer free templates for business planning.
Small Business Development Centers provide counseling and training to small businesses including business planning, strategy, operations, financial management, marketing, sales and so much more.
Don’t forget to join Yard Card Business Support and Supply Facebook Group, if you haven’t already. You’ll often find additional information, tips, and videos from other carders. Also, don’t forget to check back for the next installment of Business Basics where we will be discussing Business Strategy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elaina Boling is the owner of The Yard Life, a yard card company in Fort Collins, Colorado as well as a Creative Specialist for Yard Card Supply. She is married with 5 children and enjoys an active lifestyle. Elaina is passionate about quality products, mentoring, and growing the yard card industry.