- How much money do you have?
- Can you attract other investors?
- What return do you expect?
- Where is your expertise?
- What do you like to do most?
- Are you willing to work hard and long hours?
- What are prominent consumer trends in your industry today?
Hot Information Sources
- local chamber of commerce
- trade shows, suppliers and consultants
- local networking meetings
- federal, state and university programs
- chamber of commerce – trade commissioners
- the Internet
A mission statement is a company’s formal, written declaration of its reason for existing. A good mission statement captures an organisations’s purpose, customer orientation, business philosophy, in language that is as clear and broad as possible. A mission statement is usually one or two sentences long.
Name your business
Keep the name straightforward and descriptive, and make it as distinctive as possible.
The strength of the management team must be articulated in your business plan. Balance within a management team include behavioral, technical and conceptual skills applicable to the development, production and delivery of both current and future products and services. The management team must have skills in management, marketing, finance and operations.
Your current and projected financial statements
Determine your cash needs, project your expenses, and review your sales and profit objectives. Prepare a preliminary balance sheet. List your assets and liabilities to create a snapshot of what your company looks like at a given moment. Your balance sheet is a necessary tool for your banker and for your accountant. Include financial projections on:
- your profit-and-loss statement
- your balance sheet
- your cash-flow statement
Your products and services
Discuss your unique and specific characteristics of your products and services.
- How do they differ from similiar products or services?
- What customer reactions may be anticipated due to these characteristics?
- How will you satisfy customer needs and wants?
Describe any unique value-added characteristics your products and services provide to the customer and how these will give your company a competitive edge.
Describe how the product works or the service is used. Will your product save your customer time or money?
Have any tests or case studies been performed that help you back up your claims? Obtain that vital information and document it in your plan.
What is your product or service’s life cycle? Explain it to the investor. Include the time-factors influencing your ability to make money and the effects of economic cycles.
Discuss your plans for the next generation of products and services that will be introduced in the near future.
The business plan should be clean, conservative, simple, well-prepared, clearly written, error-free and appropriately bound. Let the visual form reflect the quality of the content.
Find out who is out there, what the competition offers and what they don’t offer, whether or not your product or service will outsell the competition, and what Unique Selling Proposition (USP) you have over your competitors.
Key points for defining the market segment for your product and service are:
- Product features
- Lifestyle of your targeted customers
- Geographical location
- Cyclical factors
How many competitors share your market? How is the share of the market distributed among the major participants? Is the market growing at a rapid rate?
In this section you will want to list the strengths and weaknesses of your product and service
List several distinct advantages over the competition in the following areas:
- Actual performance
- Quality and reliability
- Production efficiency
- Public image or reputation
- Business relationships or references
If you know of any weaknesses in your product or service, list those also and show what steps you are taking to alleviate the problem(s).
Marketing strategies are designed to enhance, promote, and support the advantages, features and benefits of your products and services.
Focus on Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Everybody within an organization should have a solid understanding of what sets you apart from the competition.
Your USP is that single, unique advantage, benefit, essence, appeal, or big promise that holds your product or service out to the prospective customer – one that no other competitor offers or advertises. You should be able to articulate, in one or two crisp, clear paragraphs, the USP of your business’s product or service. You should consider the following comments:
Your USP is literally the unique advantage that distinguishes your business from everyone else’s. This is a concept that your entire enterprise should be built around.
Without a USP, you cannot build a consistent and effective marketing campaign.
Identify the unique advantage you should build your marketing efforts around and define it in a clear paragraph.
A USP may be that your product is made entirely of all-natural ingredients or has a warranty for double the amount of time of your competitor’s warranties. Possibly your product is completely handmade, the only product in your area. Maybe your business stays open two hours longer…
Go ahead! Create a USP that lets people feel like they cannot live a moment longer without your product or service.