Introduction to Business Plan Checklist:

Business Plan Checklist

Small Business Economics found that entrepreneurs that take the time to turn their idea into a structured plan are 152 percent more likely to start their business.

Are you bursting with ideas and eager to get the ball rolling on your business venture?

If so, you have come to the right place. 

This business plan checklist will help you transform all of those brilliant ideas into a coherent, organized, and professional business plan. 

Having a business plan will add legitimacy to your idea and will guide you in taking the appropriate steps to enable your business to blossom. 

Writing a business plan shouldn’t be complicated and we are here to help with the whole process.


Before you get stuck in, here is a little bit about us:

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Let's get started. 

Complete the following tasks in a step-by-step fashion and you will see how quick (and easy) it is to write a professional business plan. 

Enter your basic information

Update this plan on a Quarterly Basis. If you are running this checklist as a result of a drastic change within your business then run the checklist as though you are creating a new business plan from scratch. 

Having an up-to-date business plan is CRITICAL for the smooth running of any business. 

We recommend running through this checklist every few months and updating it whenever a change of plan occurs. 

Even if you haven't made any changes it is important to consistently check-in with your mission, values, and goals.  

The following tasks help to keep a record of who is editing the plan and how often. 

One-Page-Pitch:

Source: Canva

A One-Page-Pitch is the simplest business plan you can write. 

Think of it as a one-page executive summary of your business. 

It is a great way to sort through all of your thoughts and get them down on paper before you begin writing a standard plan (this comes later in this business plan checklist). 

If you already have a One-Page-Pitch then upload it in the following task.

If not then no worries, just follow the checklist below.

Prepare one-page-pitch

Select the appropriate option from the dropdown below. 

If you have not yet created a OPP then create a document on your computer or on Google Docs. Then follow the subtasks below when creating the OPP.

  • 1
    Describe your business in one sentence
  • 2
    Describe the problem your potential customers have
  • 3
    Describe your solution to the problem
  • 4
    Explain who your target market/ ideal customer is
  • 5
    Describe your competitive advantage
  • 6
    Describe how you will sell to your customers
  • 7
    Describe what marketing activities you will use to attract customers
  • 8
    Detail your business model, what are your revenue streams
  • 9
    List your startup costs
  • 10
    List your primary goals and milestones that you want to accomplish over the next few months
  • 11
    Outline whether you wish to run the business alone or with a team/ freelancers
  • 12
    List any partners and resources you need to help you launch.

Add OPP

Whether you have just created a OPP or you already had one, upload it to this checklist for safe keeping.

Link OR Upload One-Page-Pitch below:

Standard Business Plan:

Why create a Standard Business Plan alongside a One-Page-Pitch?

Whilst a One-Page-Pitch is GREAT for getting your ideas on paper it lacks the components that make a business plan actionable. 

The Standard Business Plan delves deeper into the ways you plan on making your business happen. Most importantly, this plan is what investors and banks will expect to see. 

Are you ready to legitimize and set the infrastructure for your business? 

Remember to follow the tasks in a linear fashion. 

Let's build your business. 

Define the opportunity

Use the opportunity section of your business plan to demonstrate what sets your product or solution apart from the crowd.

Explain the problem that you’re solving, your solution, who you plan to sell to, and how your product or service fits into the existing competitive landscape.

This section will also give you the opportunity to identify future plans and the vision for your business. 

Determine your mission

Bear all of your previous answers in mind and write a brief mission statement.

Consider the problem you are solving; the customer's needs; your solution to the problem; and how you will benefit. 

Identify future plans

vision statement determines the current and future objectives and plans of your business.

A business's vision guides your business in making decisions that should align with its values and goals.  A good vision statement is short, simple, specific to your business, and leaves nothing open to interpretation. 

Use this section to validate your ideas and identify your future plans.

Prepare your vision statement

Now, briefly summarize your idea, future plans, and what you wish to accomplish with a vision statement. 

Write the Market Analysis:

A target market is a set of individuals sharing similar needs or characteristics that you and your business intend to serve. 

Because markets are constantly changing we have created sub-tasks within this section that allow you to quickly update the marketing analysis of your business plan. 

If this is your first time completing this checklist select: first run-through from the dropdown menu below. 

If you have already completed this checklist but your business has witnessed big changes then run the checklist from scratch: as though it were the first time. 

Alternatively, select check-in from the dropdown menu for any recent changes. This selection will save time and will not require you to go through the entire list of tasks within this section. 

Identify customers

Pinpoint who your customers are.

The first step in ascertaining your place within your target market is forming a relationship with your future customers.

Like any relationship, the more you know about someone the more likely you are to know what they want and how they want it. 

Get personal, picture your future customer in detail:

How old are they? What sex do they identify themselves as? What are their tastes? What are their spending habits? 

There are lots more questions you can ask to REALLY get to know your target market.

Remember, the more questions you ask, the closer you get to identify your customer's wants and needs. 

Do some research, then tick each of the boxes once you have the data: 

  • 1
    Do you know how old your customers are?
  • 2
    Do you know what sex they identify as?
  • 3
    Do you know their tastes?
  • 4
    Do you know their spending habits?

Highlight competitors

Establish your place within the industry. 

Before you embark on your venture you need to know what industry your business falls into; who your competitors are; and where you and slot into the mix. 

Unsure of your industry or your place within it?

A thorough Google search should provide plenty of information for your market analysis. There are websites for business analysis, financial statistics, demographics, trade associations, and just about everything you'll need to complete this checklist and your business plan. 

This section of your business plan requires regular updating. All industries are fluent, ever-changing, and growing. Good business management involves consistent industry analysis. To stay on top of the game you need to know who the key players are. 

Consider what buying factors make a difference in the success or failure of your competitors:

Is it price? Product features? Service? Support? Website? Branding? Online presence? Delivery dates?

Establish keys to success

Consider all the data you have gathered in relation to your customers and your competitors. 

Given the data, what do you think are the vital components in ensuring your business's success? Ideally, you will have between four and six keys to success (KTS). 

Struggling to narrow down your ideas? Here are a couple of examples:

• Excellent product and service that will build and maintain customer loyalty.

• A commitment to continuous improvement and total quality services.

Calculate TAM SAM SOM

Business Plan Checklist: TAM SAM SOM

TAM – Your total addressable market refers to the overall demand for the products or services your company provides.

SAM – Your serviceable available market refers to the segment of your TAM which you can reach.

SOM – Your serviceable obtainable market is kind of like your actual goal. This is how much of the market in your location you can realistically reach.

For more information on this topic check out this Process Street blog post: What is TAM SAM SOM? How to Calculate and Use It in Your Business.

Use the form fields below to record TAM SAM SOM data.

Risk Assessment:

Business Plan Checklist: Risk Assessment

“A major lesson in risk management is that a 'receding sea' is not a lucky offer of an extra piece of free beach, but the warning sign of an upcoming tsunami.”
― Jos Berkemeijer

Business risk can be understood as the factors and events that can impact a company's operational and financial performance.

From tsunamis to employees quitting; to pandemics and system failure. Risks can occur at any time and at varying degrees of disastrousness. 

In fact, a lack of risk management strategies causes over 50% of startups to fail within their first four years.

However, all is not lost. 

A thorough risk assessment of the environment surrounding your business is vital in mitigating risks. 

By considering possible risks you develop short and long-term plans that promote the steadfastness of your business. 

Consider any external risks

There are three main components of risk assessment:

  1. Identifying the specific risks that your business faces.
  2. Determining the potential impact of each type of risk identified. This is done by comparing the likelihood of occurrence vs. the extent of consequences faced.
  3. Evaluating how your current resources and expertise can deal with the most significant risks you face 
External factors

Economic Risk: Remember the financial crisis of 2007/8? That is the type of thing you consider when assessing economic risks, along with all changes in the market.


Natural Risk: Think of the tsunami example, this is a natural risk. Natural risk factors include natural disasters that affect normal business operations.


Political Risk: The 2010 crisis in Venezuela shows how political decisions take by governmental leaders can influence your business. Think taxes; currency valuation; trade tariffs or barriers; investment; wage levels; labor laws; environmental regulations and development priorities, can affect your business conditions and profitability.

For guidance on managing risk click here

Consider any internal risks

Internal risks

Internal risks happen from within your organization.

Human-factor Risk:  All things relating to you or your staff and your ability to work.

Human-factor risks include:

  • Union strikes

  • Dishonest employees

  • Ineffective management or leadership

  • Failure within the production and supply streams

  • Failure to pay by clients/customers


Technological risk: unforeseen changes in the manufacturing, delivery, or distribution of a company's product or service.

Technological risks include:

  • Failure of systems

  • Lack of skilled IT staff

  • Software and server problems

  • Dated technology and systems


Physical risk: is simply the loss or damage of assets belonging to a company. 

For guidance on managing risk click here

Market and risk check-in

Consider any changes or developments within your target market or risk enviroment.

Be sure to consider the following questions. 

  • 1
    Who are my potential customers?
  • 2
    What are their buying and shopping habits?
  • 3
    How many of them are there?
  • 4
    How much will they pay?
  • 5
    Who is my competition?
  • 6
    What have their challenges and successes been?
  • 7
    What are the internal and external risks?

Accessing the Target Market:

Complete the marketing strategy

A quick note on the difference between marketing strategy and marketing plan: The marketing strategy informs the marketing plan, which is a document that details the specific types of marketing activities your business conducts.

Get out there. 

You've established who your target market is and who your key competitors are. The next move is to establish how you plan to reach your customers.

What is a marketing strategy? Your business's game plan for reaching your target market. 

A marketing strategy contains:

Value proposition: how your product or service solves/improves problems, what benefits customers can expect, and why customers should buy from you over your competitors.

Key brand messaging: refers to conveying the value proposition and the language used in your content. It’s what makes buyers relate to your brand. 

  • Nike: Just do it.
  • Subway: Eat fresh.
  • Levis: Quality never goes out of style.

Once you have determined your marketing strategy, complete the form fields below.

Data on target customer demographics: we touched on this when researching the target market. Demographics are subsets of a target market that share particular attributes.

Understand the marketing plan

A marketing plan is operational and outlines a detailed advertising strategy. It details how your business plans to reach customers.

The plan includes details on promotional campaigns you plan to run and how you plan to monitor the effectiveness of these initiatives.

Whilst the following tasks cover the most important steps for a marketing plan there is a lot more you can do to increase your outreach. If you wish to delve deeper into the realm of marketing and planning then click here.

Components of a marketing plan:

  • Market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries.
  • Platform selection for connecting with customers and promoting your product or service.
  • Tailored messaging that targets the demographics within your market.
  • Metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines.

Plan how to communicate with customers

"The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits them and sells itself." - Peter Drucker, These 10 Peter Drucker Quotes May Change Your World.

Be creative in determining how to communicate with your customers. Think online, digital, radio, trade magazines, blogs, newsletters.

If you are looking for inspiration then have a read through this blog

Or this one ..

This is also interesting

Definitely check this out.  

*that'll do* 

Once you feel suitably inspired, fill out the tasks below.

  • 1
    Instagram
  • 2
    Twitter
  • 3
    Facebook
  • 4
    Reddit
  • 5
    Tik Tok
  • 6
    Youtube
  • 1
    Email
  • 2
    Whatsapp
  • 3
    SMS
  • 4
    Telephone
  • 5
    Mail

Consider tailored messaging

Consider your value proposition and take the same tone that you did when deciding your brand messaging. 

Ever had something tailor-made? Remember the effort that went into customizing that item to be your perfect fit. 

This is what you want to do for each and everyone one of your customers, make them feel as though you are the perfect fit for them. 

A tailored message is customized for each and every customer. They are great for creating a personal connection with customers and generating new business. 

Identify milestones

Milestones make your business plan specific, and concrete.

Milestones are dates, deadlines, tasks, and budgets.

Examples of milestones:

  • When you launch the product/service.
  • Open the new store.
  • Hire a new person (or expand in general).
  • Change locations online or offline.
  • Start a new marketing campaign.

Milestones list and categorize what’s supposed to happen—and when it’s supposed to happen.

They include launch dates, review dates, prototype availabilities, advertising, social media, website development, and programs to generate leads and traffic.

The milestones set the plan tactics into practical, concrete terms with real budgets, deadlines, and management responsibilities. They are the building blocks of strategy and tactics. They are essential to your ongoing plan-vs-actual management and analysis, which is what turns your planning into management.

As you need tactics to execute strategy, so too you need milestones to execute tactics. Normally you’ll look for a close match between tactics and milestones.

You develop your milestones by thinking through strategy, tactics, and actions you need to take. 

Once you have determined your milestones, use the form fields below to record them. 

Identify metrics

Metrics are performance measurements that you track as part of your regular planning process. 

They are numbers that you gather to analyze and compare. 

The most obvious metrics are in financial reports: sales, cost of sales, expenses, and so on.

Understanding and managing financial reports and numbers closely helps to build accountability in your business.

Identify Product Details:

Input data concerning your product or service.

Hopefully, by this stage in your business plan, you know what your product or service is. In which case the following steps should be self-explanatory. 

Use this section to outline the details of your product.

Write sourcing strategy

When considering where you are going to source your products it is really important that you consider three things:

Another thing to consider is sustainability.

Climate conscious brands are becoming increasingly popular. Being a sustainable brand means that you can positively influence the environment whilst growing your business at the same time! 

Determine pricing strategy

Pricing strategy refers to the method you use to price your products or services.

A good approach to take is to base the price of your product on production, labor, and advertising expenses and then add on a certain percentage so that you can make a profit.

Use the form field below to input your pricing strategy.

Indicate location and facilities

Consider where your business is based:

  • Will your business have an online presence?
  • Will you require the use of any extra facilities?
  • How do you plan to distribute your product?

Establish Your Financials:

Assess your financial needs. 

What do you need to get your business off the ground? 

The following tasks feature checklists that guide you in getting your finances planned, documented, and organized. 

Remember to upload the final document to this checklist so that everything is stored securely in one place. 

Establish funding requirements

Use the form fields below to determine your business's financial needs.

Complete projected balance sheet

If you already have a projected balance sheet then upload it below and move on to the next task.

If not then follow this checklist to create your Balance Sheet Statement and upload the final document:

Determine your cash flow planning process

If you already have a cash flow then upload it below and move on to the next task.

If not then follow this checklist on The Financial Planning Process and upload/link the final document:

Legalize your business

The legal requirements for launching a business vary depending on your location, the size of the business, the number of employees you have, and so on. 

Research the specific requirements for your business and considering the following: 

  • 1
    Appropriate licenses and permits
  • 2
    Sales tax permit
  • 3
    Business License
  • 4
    Accounting and record-keeping system
  • 5
    Insurance

Write the Executive Summary:

Remember the One-Page-Pitch you wrote, this is a re-draft of that. 

Take everything that you have inputted thus far into account when writing your executive summary. 

Talk about the problem you are solving, what your solution is (your product or service usually), the market, the competition, and some key financial highlights. 

Prepare executive summary

Use this task to guide you in preparing your executive summary.

Utilize the subtasks below to ensure you include all of the required information. 

  • 1
    A summary of my business.
  • 2
    A summary of my products/services.
  • 3
    Your mission statement.
  • 4
    Your vision statement.
  • 5
    Summary of your organizational structure.
  • 6
    Summary of your target market and ideal customer.
  • 7
    Evaluation of the external and internal risks.
  • 8
    Summary of the future of my business and my industry.
  • 9
    Summary of my financial data and projections.
  • 10
    Summary of legalities.

Upload your executive summary in the appropriate form field below. 

Your Standard Business Plan:

Create a standard business lan

Create a document either in Google Docs or on your computer.

Input the following headings into the document to organize your business plan:

  • Basic Info
  • Opportunity
  • Market Analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Marketing Strategy and Plan
  • Product Details
  • Finances
  • Legalities
  • Executive Summary

The following steps will gather all the data from this checklist. Copy and paste the data from each of the sections into your document.

Then upload or link the document. 

Basic Information

{{form.Your_name}}

{{form.Role_within_the_business}}

{{form.Today's_date}}

Opportunity

{{form.Problem_to_be_solved}}

{{form.Unmet_customer_needs}}

{{form.Customer_benefits_of_solving_problem}}

{{form.Proposed_solution_to_the_problem}}

{{form.Business_benefits_of_solving_the_problem}}

{{form.Mission_statement}}

{{form.Validate_idea_2}}

{{form.Identify_future_plans_2}}

{{form.Four_things_to_accomplish}}

{{form.Vision_statement}}

Market Analysis

{{form.Potential_customers_2}}

{{form.Customers_buying_habits}}

{{form.Amount_of_customers_in_your_target_market}}

{{form.Amount_customers_are_willing_to_pay}}

{{form.Your_industry}}

{{form.Current_size_of_your_industry_2}}

{{form.Competitors_within_your_industry_2}}

{{form.Identify_lead_competitors_2}}

{{form.Competitors_challenges/successes}}

{{form.Buying_factors_within_your_industry}}

{{form.Calculate_TAM}}

{{form.Calculate_SAM}}

{{form.Calculate_SOM}}

{{form.Identify_KTS}}

Risk Assessment

{{form.Internal_risks}}

{{form.Impact_of_internal_risks}}

{{form.How_internal_risks_will_be_managed}}

{{form.External_risks}}

{{form.Impact_of_external_risks}}

{{form.How_external_risks_will_be_managed}}

Check-in

{{form.Recent_changes_or_developments_within_your_industry}}

Marketing Strategy and Plan

{{form.Value_proposition}}

{{form.Ideas_for_branding_message}}

{{form.Customer_demographics}}

{{form.Summarize_data_to_include_in_plan}}

{{form.Select_which_social_media_platforms_you_will_use}}

{{form.Social_media_strategies_you_intend_to_use}}

{{form.Select_direct_communication_methods}}

{{form.Use_of_alternative_communication_methods}}

{{form.Plans_for_promotional_campaigns}}

{{form.Establish_product_offerings}}

{{form.Messaging_you_will_use}}

Product Details

{{form.Product_or_service}}

{{form.Competitive_advantage_of_product}}

{{form.Sourcing_strategy}}

{{form.Pricing_structure}}

{{form.Location}}

{{form.Facilities}}

{{form.Plans_for_distribution}}

Finances

{{form.Will_your_business_require_extra_funding?}}

{{form.Source_of_funds}}

{{form.Use_of_funds}}

{{form.Financial_strategy_for_the_future}}

Legalities

{{form.Legal_requirements_and_measures_to_be_taken}}

Executive Summary

{{form.Copy_and_paste_executive_summary}}

Use the form field below to upload your first d

Send business plan for review

Utilize the email widget to send the document for review. Getting someone to review your business plan is a key step in creating a professional and error free document. 

Upload final sstandard business plan

Congratulations!

You have completed the checklist and created your business plan.

Once you have finished editing the document be sure to upload/link it here so that it is stored in a safe place. 

Sources:

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