steps, model and tools to know

What is a business plan?

The business plan, also known as a business plan, is a synthetic document which makes it possible to structure, but also to present in a simple and effective way, the ins and outs of a project. It is essential for every business creator, whether it is the creation or takeover of an organization, but also a project to develop the company’s activity.

This written document must be presented to various interlocutors and must contain information such as:

  • A presentation by the project manager(s),
  • A presentation of the products and/or services offered, and for what purpose,
  • An analysis of the competition and what sets you apart,
  • The financial needs of the project and how to meet them,
  • The project’s implementation phases,
  • An expectation of the return on investment.

It is also necessary to provide an overview of the actions that will be carried out by the company, the means used to achieve them, but also to specify a time frame for achieving its goals. A business plan serves as an argument, especially for the need for financing and the potential profitability of a project, to convince potential investors, distributors and/or commercial partners. It also represents a reference document for the creator(s) of a company during the implementation stages of a project.

Online tools allow you to intuitively design your business plan by choosing a template and filling in the information related to your project for the different parts of this document. This data is then used by this software to perform automatic financial calculations, particularly with regard to the provisional balance.

The 6 steps to creating a business plan

A business plan must be clear and concise. It should also be comprehensive and transparent, especially with regard to financial needs. It should best represent your vision and show that your project is reliable. The 6 steps to designing an effective business plan are as follows:

1. Present the project and the founding team

This 1st descriptive phase intends to present the project as a whole, as well as the founders and partners who carry it. Regarding the project, it is here a question of briefly showing what it consists of. This means mentioning the nature of the project and the resulting offer, the potential of the project in the activity sector to which it is linked and mentioning the needs associated with it.

The presentation of the team is also very important. This should demonstrate that the founding team formed within the framework of this project has complementary skills necessary for its realization. It is therefore recommended to mention precisely the background of each individual member. This presentation should also show that the members of the founding team share the same vision.

2. Carry out market and competition research

This step involves an in-depth study of the environment ie. target market and competitors in the sector. It is therefore important to explain which customer segment you wish to address. This involves a detailed description of customers, their needs, their purchasing criteria, their spending habits, their location or even their budget.

In addition, this part is used to show the results of the competitive analysis focusing on the main competitors, but above all to show the opportunities observed in the targeted market. This step is also important to highlight the competitive advantages you can exploit.

3. Show the added value of your products or services on the market

After the competitive analysis, you are able to present the offer you wish to propose. This positioning should reflect what will differentiate you from the competition. This step is intended to show the detailed description of your product or service offering (features, pricing, sales process, customer service, etc.).

4. State the financial needs and the legal form in connection with your project

This phase of a business plan is used to indicate key elements for the configuration of your future business, such as the financing of the project, the legal status of your organization or the need for professional premises.

On the one hand, regarding the financial needs, it is advisable to mention in a concrete way the resources you want to mobilize to complete your project and finance the expenses and investments. On the other hand, you must show the legal form of your future business. To define this part, you can be accompanied by a professional.

5. Present action plan and objectives

This step serves to show the goals you set for yourself, whether quantitative or qualitative, while making them measurable. In fact, it is advisable to present the actions that will be implemented to achieve your various goals and to specify a time for realization, in order to establish a complete action plan.

6. Provide a financial record

This part of your business plan is crucial. Its aim is to provide a detailed and complete accounting analysis over 3 years. In particular, this financial file must contain:

  • Expected income statement: it is used to show your profitability by providing information regarding income (revenue, etc.) and expenses (purchases, wages, costs, taxes, etc.).
  • The cash flow plan: it involves analyzing the development of your cash flow.
  • The financing plan: this is all the financial needs and financial resources made available for the project.

Essential elements for your business plan

To be successful with your business plan, keep in mind that:

  • The business plan is not a fixed document: a business plan must be adapted to your interlocutor (banker, potential investor, distributor, etc.). It is therefore necessary to provide multiple versions of this document highlighting the relevant information depending on the recipient.
  • The summary is essential: this is the initial part of your business plan. It acts as a summary for your entire document, so take the time to take care of this part.
  • The presentation of your business plan should not be neglected: your aim should be completeness, clarity and coherence in substance and form. So take care of your chapters, titles and sub-titles, include images, a summary and/or appendices.
  • The figures must be justified: all the figures presented, especially regarding financial forecasts, must be argued and based on reliable data (market research, field studies, etc.).

A business plan template to download

In addition to the business plan tools that can be of great help, you can also download a ready-made template for writing this document. In particular, Bpifrance Création offers a template to be filled in to develop and write a business plan, including the different stages essential to its design.

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