How to Write a Business Plan for Your Oregon Startup
If you’re not sure how to write a business plan for your Oregon startup, it’s pretty simple once you know the general structure it should have. As for why you should take the time to write a business plan, well, think of it as a framework to guide you through the stages of beginning and operating your business.
Plus, a business plan shows people that you’re prepared with a plan for the future of your business, and that’s important for everyone from potential investors to employees to partners.
A well-written business plan is just one tool for building a successful business, but it’s a really important one for the foundation of your business.
There’s no right way or wrong way to write a business plan for your Oregon startup. The most important thing is to craft a document that meets your needs and the needs of your business. Here are some things you might consider including in your plan.
An executive summary is an eagle’s eye view of the company—think of it as the CliffsNotes version of your business plan. It should include:
- An outline of the company’s goals
- An outline of the company’s goals
- A summary of the products and services the company offers
- A brief description of the market the company serves
- A projection of the company’s potential growth
- Basic info about your leadership team and employees, as well as the business’s owners
- Any plans related to asking for financing or pitching the company to investors
Overview of Company and Objectives
Now, it’s time to dive in and talk about the problem your company solves. Who do you serve and how do you meet their needs? What advantages do you have that will make you a success? It’s time to boast about your strengths and what makes your company a valuable addition to the business landscape.
If you’re already in operation, it’s a little easier to talk about what you do and how you do it. If not, summarize what you hope to accomplish and how you’ll get it done. This is where you should talk about goals, listing milestones with specific steps you’ll be taking in the future.
Here’s where you let all that market research shine to show you understand what businesses similar to yours are doing. What are their strengths, and why do their businesses work? What are you doing better, and what are you bringing to the market that doesn’t already exist?
Summarize your market demographics and talk about how those demographics fit into what your business sells. Give an overview of your target market’s purchasing habits, buying cycles, and willingness to adopt new products and services. What is the trajectory of your target market—is it growing, stable, or in decline? Quantify your market with as many details as you can.
Ideally, you’re focusing on segments that can support the growth of your business. It’s much easier to serve a market you can define than to have nothing but a vague idea of who your market is.
Describe your type of business—are you a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company? Mention your registered agent here, as well (if you have one).
Next, create an organizational chart that shows who holds each position in the company and how their experiences are a key part of the business. If you want, you could include resumes or key stats for each member of your team (this could be helpful if you are presenting the business plan to a possible investor).
It’s also helpful to include a breakdown of what each member of the team does—a basic job description works well here.
Overview of Services or Products
What is your service or product? What is the lifecycle of that service or product? Discuss how what you sell benefits your customers. How is it different from what’s already on the market? If no market for your product or service currently exists, define the opportunity for entering the market and explain why you believe people want what you will sell.
Do you have any research or development in progress? If you’re planning to offer new products or services, give an overview of the timeline and implementation needed to make that happen.
Last, list any trademarks, patents, or copyrights the company owns.
Marketing and Sales Strategy
Your business’s marketing and sales strategy will evolve to fit the needs of your business and your offerings as you grow and as marketing trends change, but it’s good to have a starting point. This section should discuss how you’ll attract customers, retain them, and upsell them. Here are some important talking points when discussing a marketing and sales strategy:
- What’s your budget for marketing?
- How will you know if your marketing is successful and how will you adapt if it isn’t successful?
- What platforms will you be on and how are they relevant to your audience?
- What will you do for advertising and how will you get the word out?
- How will you measure return on investment (ROI)?
- Do you need people to promote your products? How will you form these partnerships?
Logistics and Operations
Provide an overview of the workflows you need to run your business smoothly. Cover all the components you think you need for your planned business operations (or document them, if you’re already in operation), including things like:
Facilities: Where will you work? Do you have actual retail space, and where is it?
Suppliers: For products, where do you get the materials you need for production (if you produce them yourself)?
Production: How are your products produced? How will you handle spikes in demand?
Equipment: What equipment do you need to run your business?
Inventory: Do you have an inventory management system?
Shipping: Do you have a fulfillment process for shipping products to customers?
This section of your business plan shows that you have a solid understanding of your supply chain and have a plan in the event of any spikes in business or sudden growth.
Here’s where you talk about the projected financial success of your business. If you’re already up and running, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow documents. You may also want to include any relevant information about capital expenditures.
If you’re just getting started and don’t have historical information, you may want to get more specific with your projections. You could project quarterly or even monthly information for your first year after starting the business.
A Final Note
Know that although a business plan is an important map, it isn’t meant to be perfect or permanent. It’s designed to be reviewed and adjusted regularly so you can stay on track. Without this baseline, it will be much more difficult to adjust and have a historical reference for making decisions. A business plan shows you where you’re going and where you’ve already been, and that’s key for building a successful business.
If you have any questions about how to write a business plan for your Oregon startup, get in touch with your local SBDC at OregonSBDC.org.