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Elements of a Business Plan

Planning for the future is crucial for any successful organization, and business plans play an important part in that process. Without a business plan, your organization or department could easily become directionless.

Your business plan sets out how you’ll navigate foreseeable and unforeseeable opportunities and challenges as you pursue your business ideas. Your plan should describe your objectives and how you’ll achieve them in a coherent, consistent, and cohesive manner.

Benefits of a business plan

There are many benefits to having a business plan. A business plan helps you clarify which developments your business or project should focus on. It gives you a logical framework within which to develop your business strategies over time.

And while those strategies are unfolding, a plan acts as a benchmark against which actual performance can be measured. Finally, a plan is the key to giving you influence over the direction your business or department takes.

Components of a business plan

When you are creating a plan, there are four elements, or broad areas, you typically cover.

1. opportunity — The opportunity element of your business plan describes the problem your plan will solve, or how a particular business idea will benefit your department and the organization. It goes on to describe who has the problem or who will benefit from the idea, what trends affect the problem or idea, and how much people will be willing to spend. This section is essentially an investigation of the market.

2. solution — The solution addresses the opportunity you’ve identified by describing the product or service you’ll introduce, the change you’re proposing, or whatever your idea may involve. Issues you’ll address in this section include things like how the product or service works and how it solves a problem or provides a particular benefit, as well as its customer base, its price and positioning, and how it compares to competitors’ offerings.

3. execution — The execution element describes how you’ll develop your idea — be it a product or service or something else — to bring it to market or get it successfully implemented. In this section, you would consider what resources you’ll need to create and distribute your product. You’ll also need to consider how you’ll attain market share and preserve it. You should be clear about what might go wrong and how you’ll mitigate problems.

4. outcomes — The outcome element explains what you imagine the results will be if your plan is followed. You’ll anticipate sales and revenue over the coming years and explain how you’ll deal with changes in the market during that period.