We may not get a lot of help from Washington D.C. but the Small Business Administration business plan generator is one of the real exceptions to that general rule.
The system breaks down into two basic components:
- Narratives that explain your business idea, and
- Spreadsheets that capture your financial projections.
If you’re already in business and you jumped in with both feet without a business plan, working your way through the Small Business Administration business plan generator would be an excellent exercise. You’re likely to discover some aspects of running your business and planning for your future that you have overlooked.
So, whether you’re in your initial planning stages, or you already own and operate your company, creating an account on the SBA website and using this tool should prove very worthwhile. Here are the steps that the SBA business plan generator will take you through:
- Cover page and introduction. You shouldn’t have any problem here. It’s all basic stuff. However, if you plan to have others look at the document – for funding, for example – it would be a good idea to have a professionally designed logo ready that you can upload.
- Executive summary. Here you’ll give the “fly over” description of your company, the products or services you plan to sell, who your customers are, and where you see your industry going in the future.
- Company description. Now we’re starting to focus in. What kind and how many key employees will you need? Your mission statement will go here. You’ll also need to provide details about your offerings that make them desirable and the big picture on why your business will be a success.
- Market research. Here you’ll explain your industry sector and how it is evolving. Who are your competitors? Your target customers?
- Products or services. This is the place within the Small Business Administration business plan generator where you describe in detail how your offerings will meet the needs of your target customers. Explain your benefits over the competition and where you are in the development of your product: do you have a working prototype?
- Marketing and sales. Are you going to advertise? How do you plan to reach your customers? Why choose those strategies? What kind of growth to you see?
All of the points so far are almost exclusively “narrative.” You’re telling the story of what you envision and what you plan to do. Understanding the differences between a value proposition, elevator pitch, and positioning statement will be useful when you tackle the topics above.
The final section of the Small Business Administration business plan generator has you inputting numbers in an online spreadsheet.
- Financial projections spreadsheets. There are four of these you need to work your way through:
- Profit and Loss Projection
- Cash Flow Projection
- Projected Balance Sheet
- Breakeven Analysis
As you work through all the line items on these spreadsheets, you’ll be forced to come up with some solid figures. At the end of the exercise – if you’ve been honest in your estimates and projections – you’ll have a good picture of the feasibility of your proposed business. Be sure to add a safety margin to your figures – 20 percent or more – so you’re erring on the conservative side.
Below is a screenshot of the “Profit & Loss” spreadsheet so you know what you can expect when you start plugging numbers into the Small Business Administration business plan generator.