If you think to prepare a business plan for the very first time, it is intimidating. There are many parts and each one has much detail.
The preparation of a business plan becomes easier if you manage your plan according to four cornerstones that are considered the foundation of every business plan. These are an opportunity, solution, Execution, and outcomes.
Everything that makes a business plan falls into the following categories:
Opportunity: A successful business has always exploited an opportunity. Opportunities arise from problems and customers are always willing to spend money to solve these problems; they want to be in contact with their friends (via Twitter and Facebook); they want some tasty Italian meal; they want to manage their enterprise data better (oracle); they want to work in a fuel efficient vehicle like MINI Cooper; they want to be fit and trim. The opportunity part of the business plan explores the nature of the problem; that experiences the pain; the trends that affect the source of the pain; how much is the pain severe; how people addressing the pain; and they are how many people who are willing to spend for the pain. In more broad meaning, the opportunity is a description as well as analysis of the potential market.
Solution: This is a great idea. What are you going to introduce in the market that is advantageous of the opportunities you have identified? What about its working? How does it solve problems? What are its benefits and features? What about the price and how will you make its position in the marketplace? How does it stand up against the competitive solutions? Do you have business software for your company? Many entrepreneurs are of the view that a great solution is the most important thing for building a successful business, but it is one of the important elements.
Execution: This is about converting your ideas into products. What plan you have for the development of product and introduce it into the market? How will to make people aware of sales? What about the manufacturing and distribution process? Either these manufacturing and construction processes are localized? How will you manage the hurdles? What type of partnership do you need? What will you do to minimize the risks? What type of expenses will you make to do it all? How much investment do you need to put on?
Outcomes: If things go according to the plan you made, what about the future outcomes? How much will be the sale of the product within next 5 years? How will the consumer behavior, changes in the market, and competition affect these outcomes? How much profit or cash will your business generate? What about the balance sheet in future?
Using these cornerstones you can organize your thoughts. When you start working on your business plan, take four paper sheets and write all these cornerstones on the top of each paper.
Start brainstorming. Write all the ideas come to your mind. Work more if one the sheet looks empty when compared to others. After some days, go through the sheets and delete the items that do not relate to your story.
A business plan ties all these cornerstones together. By going through the process, you have a well-convinced draft of your plan.