If you think you can skip a business plan, head over to our "Why You Should Write a Business Plan" article first, it will give you a few great reasons to take the time to put together a plan for your new business.
Does a business plan guarantee success? Absolutely not. Does it improve your chances of success? Oh of course. Great planning can often be the difference between success and failure, and when it comes to dreaming about your business, you should do everything possible to set the stage for success.
There are many business plan formats out there, we hope you'll take some time to search around and see what fits your style. Typically they go in a fashion similar to this:
- Executive Summary
- General Company Description
- Products and Services
- Marketing Plan
- Operational Plan
- Management and Organization
- Personal Financial Statement
- Startup Expenses and Capitalization
- Financial Plan
Below is a quick overview of what each section of the business plan consists of. We have found that including these categories helps our agents to write comprehensive business plans that gives them an immediate roadmap for starting their Secure American Insurance Agency.
We always suggest writing this section last; it is essentially a summary of the other sections.
General Company Description
This section describes your company. This is not just how you imagine it but how you want to run it. What are the CORE values? What do you envision it to be in a year? 3 years? 5 years down the road? Take time to reflect on the industry, economics and how things will change in your life as well as clients lives. What is your ideal client? Where are they? What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? (SWOT). There is a lot here to consider, which is why we like starting with questions you can answer.
Products and Services
With Insurance, we have this covered, as an independent agent, you can sell a wide array of products, from dozens of carriers. Are you going to focus on Residential? Commercial? One state or multiple? Do you have family in another state where you could sell their lines and be their go to agent? Typically you would describe in-depth your products and services, so take time to consider what you want to sell, to whom and why. Learning those carriers and products, along with changes each year, is time consuming but rewarding when you can help a client with exactly what they need.
Marketing is one heck of a beast. This section is broken down into a lot of options on our business plan guide, as well as in our marketing on-boarding. We try to prepare agents to really understand that marketing is every part of the process - from developing the products you will sell to the research of your ideal clients. It's not just about where you will put your money.
We also try to encourage our agents to focus their energy on excelling in two to three marketing avenues, instead of being mediocre in all marketing avenues . Marketing encompasses everything from print postcards, emails and text messages, to digital ads with Facebook or joining network groups - focusing on one or two things you enjoy and can do everyday will get you better results than throwing ads until it sticks.
This is the day to day of your business. What does your ideal day look like? What equipment do you need to do your job well? How will you keep track of receipts? Calendar dates? Ensure your customer service is top notch? Where are you operating out of? There are benefits to home offices as well as open office structures. Where are you getting your mail? Do you want people to know your home address or do you want to set up a PO?
Taking sometime to imagine a week in your future life will help you think about the day to day operations. It's okay to not get everything - some situations are just going to pop-up at the time, that is just a new business.
Management and Organization
This is also more of the day-to-day, management version; if you plan to expand and build your company - and you should DREAM BIG especially for agents - how will you manage it? Will you hire an admin when you reach a certain income goal? Will you seek outside marketing help? Will you recruit new producers to help you grow your agency? Do you want to bring in silent investors to move ahead faster - they like to see business plans. Who will you depend on? Bankers? Mentors? Financial advisors?
Personal Financial Statement
Investors will often ask for a personal financial statement, then section is a great reminder, when you are building a business - many items will come out of your own pocket. It's always a good idea to check in with a Financial Advisor to help you structure your new business the best way possible.
Startup Expenses and Capitalization
You will have many expenses associated with operating your agency. It's important to estimate these expenses accurately and plan where you can source the capital to get started? Do you have savings? Have you considered a loan? Or even considered approaching family or friends for help?
And finally, put those expenses, capital and expected earnings in a real budget. Many investors will ask to see a 12 month year long profit and loss projection. Even if you don't have investors, this is still a great tool to allow you to understand your finances.
If you have added research, brochures or studies - this is a place to attach those extra items. This is particularly important if you referenced them in any of your explanations or plans.
Your plan can be as many pages as you feel you need to get your best plan down on paper. Keep in mind you can come back and update it, add to it or expand a section later. Businesses grow, change and evolve just like people. We can't wait to see yours and help you achieve it.