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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. Whether you have a business idea or are already delivering products or services, the business planning process is a must for all small businesses.  

As for why you should take the time to write a traditional business plan, think of it as a framework to guide you through the stages of beginning and operating your business and a road map for long-term success.

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—the most important thing is to craft a document that is custom to your business and can provide a road map for where you’re going and how to get there. Here are some things you might consider including in your plan.

Executive Summary

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 the following:

  • An outline of the company’s goals
  • An outline of your operations plan
  • 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. This part of the plan should answer questions about your target audience and how your business can meet the needs of today’s customers.

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 operating a business, it’s 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.

Market Analysis

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? Evaluate what you are doing better and what your business is 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.

Company Organization

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, including your management team, 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

Define your service or products and the typical life cycle of that service or product.

Discuss how what you sell benefits your customer, and describe your differentiator to what’s currently 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?
  • What platforms and channels will you use to market?
  • Define an advertising plan.
  • How will you measure return on investment (ROI)?
  • Will you need to employ 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: Brick and mortar, retail space, locations.
  • Suppliers: For products you produce yourself, where do you get the materials you need for production?
  • Production: When, where, how, and by whom are your products produced? Do you have the resources needed to handle an influx in production?
  • Equipment: What equipment do you need to run your business, and do you see the need to purchase equipment in the near future?
  • 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 a plan in the event of any spikes in business or sudden growth.

Financial Projections

Financial planning never ends when you’re operating your own business and is an important part of your business plan. 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 statements. 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 how you’re going to get there, and that’s key to building a successful business and obtaining funding—if that’s what the future holds for your business. Financial institutions typically want to see a detailed and current business plan along with the financials of your business as a prerequisite of acquiring capital.

The Oregon SBDC has 20 Centers across the state with advisers to help you in every area of your business. From startup to launch, scaling to succession planning, we’re here to help. If you have any questions about how to write a business plan for your Oregon small business, get in touch with your local SBDC by clicking here.

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