9 elements of an effective business plan

Small business

The foundation for any successful business is a comprehensive, formally crafted, attainable business plan. Here are nine components to include.

1. Executive summary and company description

Explain your company and its mission. Have you had any notable accomplishments?  Outline your near-term objectives. What resources will you need to achieve those goals?

2. Solution statement

Explain the challenges your client base faces—like, “The neighborhood doesn’t have a good spot for children’s haircuts.” Include any supporting data or anecdotal evidence. Then outline the solutions your business will provide—like, “My salon serves the under-10 segment.”

3. Products and services

Clearly describe the products and services your business provides—in detail. Include information about the production and distribution of products, if any. Do you have plans for future offerings? If so, include that too.

4. Business leadership/personnel

Does your business have multiple employees? Outline your management structure and future hiring needs. Write a brief bio of each member of your leadership team, including relevant work experience.

5. Market analysis

Share analysis and insights on your target market—demographics, income levels, etc. What trends do you see in the market? How will those trends provide opportunities for your business?

6. Competitive audit

What other businesses exist in your space? Include relevant details about them—like location, target customers, and unique offerings. How will your product, service, or solution differentiate your business from those competitors?

7. Goals and objectives

Describe—In detail—what your business will look like in the short term. How will your business make money? Be specific in what you hope to achieve. Outline the steps and actions you’ll take to achieve it. You may want to include research and development objectives, distribution plans, and marketing plans.

8. Financial plan

If you’re just starting your business, list all cash and non-cash assets. What other sources do you have for start-up funding? List any bills or loans you have. And what liabilities do you anticipate—in both the short and long term?

If your business has been up and running for a year or more, compile profit and loss information. Go back 3-5 years, if possible. Include revenue, costs, operating expenses, income, and tax information.

9. Request

Are you requesting funding—from a bank, an organization, or a person? Be clear and direct about what you’re asking for.

Ask for input from trusted colleagues and advisors while you’re putting together your plan. They can help validate your thinking or ask tough questions that may prompt you to add additional details. And once your plan is done, don’t just tuck it away and forget it. Use it like a map to guide you as you move forward. Schedule regular times to review it and adjust it, if necessary.

Learn more.

Contact your local Truist banker to see how we can help you reach your business goals.