“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” – Winston Churchill
By having a solid business plan in place, you’ll plan for your company’s success. A business plan is a tool for understanding how your business is put together. It monitors progress, holds you accountable, and guides the fate of your business. They’re necessary for potential investors, banks, or partners to view your goals and determine the strength of your company.
The process of writing a business plan is helpful to gain a complete view of your business. It shouldn’t be longer than 10-15 pages and is a living document which will continue to develop over time. Revisit the document quarterly to review progress and make sure your business is on track.
To write a successful business plan, use these key elements and outline a plan for your company.
Section 1: Executive Summary. This single page summary consolidates the information in the following sections. The executive summary is a simple section used to engage a reader to read through the entire plan. It should include a summary of your core mission and values, services offered, customer profile, financial projections, and business goals.
Section 2: Company Overview. Your company overview should contain the following highlights:
Company Mission, Vision, Values – Think about your company’s specific mission, vision, and core values. Start with, “Our mission is to…” and define how your company is different. Determine what you want to accomplish in the next 10 years and what’s important to your business.
Customer Pain Points – What problem does your customer have and how can you solve it? Consider pain points beyond delivering a load from one location to another. Document issues your customers have in the freight process and how your business solves them.
Board of Advisors – Even if you own a small company, choose a board of advisors with mentors or people you know and trust. A small team of wise people to help make important decisions is valuable for a business to become successful.
Organization Chart – List all positions and roles in your company even if your company has one or two people. Roles can include marketing, manager, sales, accountant, distribution, mechanics, IT, etc. An organization chart offers clarity on the many roles you manage including the roles of employees or contractors. It may change as roles shift or new people are hired.
Section 3: Services & Operational Strategies. Determine what you’re offering, who your customer is, and how you’ll find them.
Product/Service Overview – What materials do you deliver and where are you offering your services? How is your company different? List why your services are in high demand.
Customer Overview – This includes customer demographics (who’s buying) and psychographics (why they’re buying). Choose a niche industry to specialize in a specific customer. The more you know your customer, the easier your marketing becomes.
Competitors – Look at a few of your competitors and list their strengths and weaknesses. Follow companies who are doing well and mimic successful strategies.
SWOT Analysis – List your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Section 4: Financial Projections & Capital Needed. In this section, you’ll track financial results and make projections. Document capital needed and where investor money is spent.
Financial Projections – This can be broken down into 3, 6, and 12-month financial projections. Include cash flow, profit and loss, sales forecasts, and projected growth for the next five years.
Schedule for Use of Funds (if applicable) – If you receive investor money, where is the money going and when? When can investors plan to get it back? Create a detailed schedule showing where the money will go, when, and for what.
Exit Strategy (if applicable) – Include this section if you plan to sell your business. Document when you’d like to sell and who you’d like to sell to. Work backwards as you build a company your ideal person or company may be interested in buying.
Plan for your company’s success by creating a formal business plan. Don’t forget, it’s a live document which evolves as your business grows. Revisit your business plan each quarter to make edits and reevaluate your goals for the future.