Vigorous work is necessary to build a small business. When that tenacious effort pays off in a successful operation, you wonder what’s next for the enterprise. After achieving your maximum output, you can’t open the floodgates to new growth because your time is not unlimited. You need a plan that provides the foundation for a sustainable upward trajectory – one that addresses new opportunities to seize and the resources needed to do so.
When you move beyond the solo start-up phase, you already have some business history. You’ve proven that you have something to sell, and your experience delivering to customers gives you some financial data to measure performance.
Now you simply need a plan to judge expectations from new investment, whether from outside funding sources or by reinvesting some of your own profits.
Getting Started on a Business Plan
As the old expression goes, the best place to get started is the beginning. Summarize what your business has accomplished, where it stands regarding future prospects, and how you intend to achieve new goals. A business plan doesn’t need to become an unwieldy treatise. Rather, in a few sentences, you can state your market of customers, how much you have sold since starting, and the time and money that were required to attain those sales.
Describe the composition of your industry – whether it’s comprised of a few large organizations or is mostly numerous small enterprises. Convey whether the market is growing, shrinking, or stable. Do you expect your business to grow from an expanding market, or by attracting customers away from competitors?
Identify new products or services you intend to provide for the market, or simply give details about how you differentiate your business from the competition. What are your selling points to prospective customers? Explain how you attract customers, the amount of new business you seek over a specified future period, and the cost to accomplish that growth.
The Business Team
Growing organizations demand teamwork. Your business plan must convey who is focused on sales management, who manages delivery logistics, and who is tracking financial results. The latter may be outsourced to bookkeeping and accounting firms, but you need a system for timely examination and analysis of the financial reports produced.
Accounting professionals are also crucial to preparing the financial elements in your business plan. The capital and expense requirements necessary to attain your projected revenue are displayed in a cash flow forecast. In the future, this projection of cash flow will be compared with actual financial results compiled by your accounting pros.
Accountants, however, do not create the financial features in your business plan out of whole cloth. Your input is essential.
Only you know what your team can achieve with the available resources of money and time. You have the track record. You developed the product or service. You know the selling process. You know the risks and the ratio of costs to revenue.
The key factor moving forward is establishing strategic objectives that can be accomplished with a given amount of funds in a given amount of time.