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Business plans appear in many different formats, depending on the audience and complexity of the business. However, most business plans address the following five topic areas in one form or the other.

Business plan structure Cover page:

Name of the business, contact details of the person who submitted the plan, and date.

Table of contents:

A quick overview of the document’s content.

1. Executive summary:

A concise summary highlighting the;

• Services (or products)

• Geographical area of operation

• Objectives

• Mission

• Company staff

• Targeted clients and marketing

• Budgets

• Keys to success

• Timescales

This section must be concise, short, to the point, and engaging with relevant details.

2. Company summary:

Current status of the business, ownership, successes to date, expertise, and start-up summary.

3. Services:

Details of services, and how they are delivered to clients.

4. Market analysis:

Your target market and its size, trends, segmentation, opportunity for revenue, analysis of your potential clients-where they are based, their needs, why they will buy from you, and how much of your services they will buy. If you already have paying customers, include that information and specify how much they are paying. Also describe your competitors, their services, their advantages over you, as well as advantages which you can fill in.

5. Strategy implementation summary:

Describe your competitive edge and tactics in promoting and advertising your services. Discuss your sales strategy, forecast, and milestones. Use a SWOT analysis.

6. Management summary:

A short description of management.

7. Financial plan:

A realistic estimate for investment required (start-up funding), projected profit and loss (income), projected cash flow statement, projected balance sheet, and break-even analysis- which indicates when the business will become self-sufficient.

8. Appendix:

Include detailed tables of sale forecasts, personnel payroll, profit and loss, cashflow, and balance sheet. Also include promotional materials, media, publications, awards, and other materials you wish to share with the reader.

Sample Cashflow Statement

To prepare a cashflow statement, you will include loans, payments, transfers of personal money into and out of the business, taxes, and other money that is not earned or spent as part of your core business operation. Also, in your cashflow statement, you will record costs in the month that you expect to incur them, rather than spreading annual amounts equally over 12 months. This is important because it’s easy to show a monthly profit on spreadsheet, but go belly up from lack of cash if you can’t pay your bills on time.

Here are the steps you need to follow to create a cashflow statement;

• Start your projection with the actual amount of cash your business will have in your bank account.

• Fill in all amounts you expect to take in during the month, including sales revenue that will be actually in hand, collections of previous sales made on credit, transfers of personal money into the business, and any loans coming into the business-basically, every Lilangeni that will flow into your business checking account.

• Enter all your projected payments for the month. Include all your variable costs (cost of goods), your fixed costs such as rent, tax payments, and loan payments. Add them to your monthly total.

• Finally, subtract your total monthly cash-outs from your total monthly income; the result will be your cash left at the end of the month. That figure is also your beginning cash balance at the start of the next month. Copy this amount to the top of the next month’s column and go through the whole process over again.

>> Quote of the week

“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.” –Sun Tzu.

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