February 15, 2018
Your business plan is a crucial document for your new business. It explains who you are, describes your company and shows how you will make it profitable.
A well-written business plan can help you gain the trust of lenders, investors and stakeholders. It should show that you are engaged in your business and that you have the skills, knowledge and confidence to achieve your goals.
Elements of a good business plan
Your business plan should contain the following:
- The name of your company and a description of its activities
- An analysis of the market and competition
- An analysis of what sets you apart from the competition
- A marketing plan
- Your organizational and legal structure
- A human resources plan
- An analysis of your financial needs and your equipment needs
- Your key financial data
BDC’s article How to Write an Effective Business Plan gives you an overview of the basics to include in your plan. You can also check out our article on common mistakes to avoid when creating your business plan .
You can use BDC’s free business plan template to help you write your plan. The Canada Business Network also offers a guide and good examples of business plans by business line.
Get additional information
You may have done informal market research yourself .Gather this information using both primary and secondary sources.
Secondary sources include statistics and trends of your market and customer base. Relevant data can be found on Statistics Canada’s websites and the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Specialized publications, associations, think tanks and academic research are also good sources of information.
Primary sources include surveys, personal interviews, and focus groups. They can provide you with a new perspective on the attitudes and behaviors of your target audience. When you search, make sure your survey goes beyond your circle of friends and family.
Like other parts of your business plan, your market research should be periodically updated whenever you need to make an important business decision.
Set measurable goals
Setting goals for your business plan helps your team stay focused, and committed to achieving your vision. Your goals are aligned with every aspect of your business plan. Here are some examples:
- Finance – Collect a specific amount of capital, reach your cash targets, become profitable.
- Operations – Launch new products, offer new services, improve efficiency by a coefficient x.
- Human Resources – Find employees with specific skills, create an integration protocol, set up an employee evaluation system.
- Sales and Marketing – Create a unique brand, develop your business plan, reach your sales targets.
You should have measurable targets to monitor your progress during the year.
Do you need a marketing plan?
If your company is doing a lot of marketing, it may be appropriate to prepare a separate marketing plan . For an introduction to marketing concepts, read the BDC article A 5-Step Marketing Plan, full of common sense .
Your marketing plan may include the following:
- A SWOT analysis that examines strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business.
- A description of your target market .
- Clear objectives: shares and market segments, number of customers and customer loyalty, size and volume of purchases made, etc.
- A description of your marketing strategy.
Prepare an “elevator speech”
In addition to your business plan, you should also prepare an ” elevator speech “. This is a short and compelling presentation that describes your business in less than 90 seconds.
Not everyone has the time or inclination to read your business plan. To attract the interest of your contacts, you must be able to present your company to investors, lenders, partners and potential customers, the time it takes an elevator to reach the top floor of a building.
To achieve this, your presentation must be clear and concise, stand out from the crowd and be tailored to your audience. You have to know your business thoroughly, because those who listen to you might ask you tough questions.