Business Planning Checklist: A Step-by-Step Guide
Every business needs a plan. Whether you’re approaching a bank for a loan, looking to bring a partner on board, or soliciting outside investment – parties are going to want to see your plan on paper.
Plans come in a variety of formats and lengths. We’ve pulled together the most important parts of any business plan in the checklist below. Set yourself and your business up for success by using the checklist below when creating your plan.
1. Define the Opportunity
It’s important to identify the problem your business will solve and why it’s a problem worth solving.
Discuss your solution (your product or service) and share information about how you’ve validated your idea.
2. Create a Market Analysis Summary
Include detailed information about your market segmentation and your target market segment strategy. You’ll also want to identify key customers, future markets, and the competition.
3. Outline Your Execution
It’s important to outline your marketing plan and sales plan. Include information relating to your location, facilities, technology, inventory, equipment, and key metrics or milestones you’ll track along the way.
You’ll also want to provide an overview of the organizational structure of your business. Share information about the management team, roles, and individuals’ backgrounds. Even if you’re a one-person team, include information about your personnel plan and some of the needs you anticipate for first hires. Include relevant ownership information, as well.
4. Write the Financial Section
This is what many consider the most important components of a business plan. A well-rounded financial section will include profit and loss statements, cash flow statements, projections, balance sheets, and a break-even analysis.
5. Compile an Appendix
Include anything that’s important but would otherwise weigh down an individual section above. This is a great place to include additional charts, graphs, or other data.
6. Draft the Executive Summary
This piece actually goes at the beginning of your plan, but there are benefits to writing it last. Identify the problem you’re solving, the market, the competition, and financial highlights.
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