Starting and Growing Your Business: First Steps to Building a Business Plan

Business Plan Definition → A road map that describes how a business is going to achieve its goals. It lays out a plan from a marketing, financial, and operational viewpoint.

What is the purpose of a business plan?

A business plan provides a way to manage starting or development a business. The business plans reduces risk by forcing evaluation of:

  • Market demand for products & services

  • Strategies

  • Business Structure

  • Marketing

  • Distribution

  • Competition

  • Finances

Benefits of a business plan:

  • Exposes risk and opportunities

  • Increases knowledge of customer needs

  • Increases knowledge of competitors strengths & weaknesses

  • Places focus on marketing position/competitive advantage

  • Provides bankers/funders evidence to support a startup business

  • Serves as an internal planning tool

  • Breaks the business into understandable pieces rather than one complex idea

  • Creates a timeline for business growth and evolution

  • Identifies when and where conflicts of resources may exist

  • Supplies a method for developing logical financial projections

When do you need a Business Plan?

  • When a bank or other funding source is involved

  • Major suppliers & leasing companies may require a plan

  • When a source of risk exists. Such as:

  • Leaving current employment

  • Undertaking debt from any source, including personal

  • Market is uncertain due to:

  • New product or service

  • New geographic area

  • Market size & ability to support business

  • Market acceptance


General outline of a business plan:

  •  Executive summary

  •  Market observations & analysis

  •  Business description

  •  Products and/or services

  •  Marketing plan

  •  Management & operations

  •  Financial plan

  •  Attachments & additional documentation


To get started building a business plan for your dream, contact the Marshall Economic Development Satellite Iowa State University Small Business Development Center at 641-753-6645.  Services include succession planning, business plan development and market research, and analysis. Services are provided at no cost.