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Sierra Leone Business: Start-up Business HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN BUSINESS PLAN

Whether you’re starting a business, running a business or about to expand a business, having a business plan as a road map to follow is crucial to your success. Writing a business plan will help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals easier. It will give you a clear and concise path to follow through the course of your business executions, and will keep you focused on your target. Irrespective of achieving your entrepreneurial goals, having a business plan can be a great element to securing a bank loan and getting funding from an investor.

A well written business plan must contain the following headings:

1). Executive Summary:

This comes directly after the title page. The executive summary is the general overview of your business plan. It tells the reader exactly what you want to achieve. In a broad view, the executive summary’s purpose is to list out your business goals and expressively describe your company’s profile. It’s always advisable to study an existing executive summary sample to understand how and in what depth, to craft yours. Expressly copying an executive summary template is wrong, but getting an intelligent stance on how yours should be written can be achieved by studying an executive summary example. The executive summary should only also be written after the rest of your business plan is finished. This is one reason it is important to know how to write a business plan, so you can prepare a great plan investors and bankers will accept.

2). Business Description:

Your business description is an explanation of what your company does, the industry your business is operating in, and what differentiates your business from others. It should also contain a more detailed information about your company profile. When writing your company description, it’s important you talk about the current trends in your market and how you expect the future to turn out. You should talk about the widespread markets operating in your industry, and how some diverse products or services can benefit or affect your business.

3). Market Analysis & Strategies:

Your market analysis is going to contain a comprehensive research of your market and the competitors in your business industry. When you do a thorough market analysis, you become very familiar with the market, and find it easier to narrow down who your immediate target customers could be. With this information, your business can be well positioned to claim a good percentage of the market when you start out. If you’re finding it difficult to carry out a market research on your own, you could employ the services of market research firms to help you out in your market assessment. They wouldn’t just provide results, but would also outline a marketing plan you could follow, which covers diverse marketing strategies to get a good percentage of the market.

4). Design & Development Plan:

Here you provide your potential creditors and investors, information about your product design and development plan. You’d show your product development strategy, business development plan, and how the business will reach its goals by creating a development budget.

5). Organization & Management:

The business organization and management will show what business structure your organization is going to adopt. Since every organization is structured differently, picking the right organization and management structure that would aid you in achieving your goals is important for your business plan to be concise.

6). Service or Product Line:

Here you outline your product line, services you offer, and your general product ideas. You’ll describe how your product lines would benefit your customers, and also show the layout of the product lifecycle. You’ll list your product line pricing, slightly talk about your product’s market research, your product development process and strategy, and your service line. It’s important at this phase to tell the complete story of your company’s product line, so that anyone reading through can understand a lot better and easily connect with the message you’re trying to pass.

7). Sales And Marketing:

Your sales and marketing will cover how you intend to market the business and eventually turn a profit. Here you outline your marketing strategies based on the information gotten from your market research and analysis. You’ll also outline how to reach your target customers, your marketing strategies & promotional tactics, how you’ll price your products and/or services, and how you intend to position the individual brands of your products and/or services.

8). Funding Request:

Here you’ll state all your financial needs. If the purpose of your business plan is to get business funding, you should include the total amount it would take to run the company, and how you expect to reap strong financial gains from it in the short or long term. Getting a grant or seed funding through your business plan can sometimes be tricky if you don’t know the real expectations of the institutions you plan on getting it from. But detailing your business funding request in the most promising and realistic financially rewarding way for the funding agencies to digest, would be your best bet.

9). Financial Projections:

Your financial projections have to be detailed in the most cost-effective manner. This becomes more important if you’re seeking funding from a financial institution. Find out the full information you need to include in your financial forecast for your funding request to pull through or look more feasible. If funding is not the reason for creating the business plan, then you still need to be very realistic in the preparation. Any assumed or exaggerated figure can lead to utter disappointments.

10). Appendix:

The appendix part of your business plan is optional. It usually contains your:

Patents, licences, and permits

Contracts

Letters of reference

Legal documents

Book references etc

A good business plan tells the present and future story of your business. Many small businesses fail to survive the first 3-5 years due to a lack of developing a good business plan.  If you lack the competence to write a business plan for your business don’t hesitate to seek the services of a business development consultant.  John F Fowler is a business consultant, entrepreneur and youth entrepreneurship development trainer. He has produced books on various SME business start-ups . For business advice or speaking engagements contact him on info@startabusiness.com.ng , www.startabusiness.com.ng, whatsapp +234 802 325 4577.

Monday May 13, 2019.

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