It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have; a business plan can be the key to success. However, not every business owner knows how to write one. If you’re keeping your plan in-house, there isn’t necessarily a strict format you have to follow or length you have to meet. However, if you need it as part of an application for financing, there are five things you should always include.

Introduce Your Company

First, you should establish what your company is and why it exists. This should essentially serve as an introductory statement, where you include a mission statement and then briefly talk about your product or service and your operations.

Describe Your Company

Then, you can get into the details. With a company description, you should map out exactly how things are organized both internally and externally, including business structure, operational management, and who you are doing business with. Charts can be extremely helpful here. You should also include the resumes of those in important positions. Try highlighting your business’s strengths, such as what makes your business unique or how you are a leading expert in your field.

Sell Your Product

Whether your business offers a product or service, sell it well in your business plan. You should describe what it is and what type of customer it appeals to. Your product or service should be unique so that it stands out from the competition, so include any patents, intellectual property, or scientific studies that can allow lenders to understand the full scope of your potential.

Understand the Industry

Understanding the market is key to selling your service or product. What is the overall industry outlook, and how does your business fit into that? Are you taking part in an industry with positive progressions, or is the industry dying? What are your competitors doing and how are you setting yourself apart?

Explain Your Plans

A business plan is usually a part of an application for financing, whether it’s through a traditional lender like a bank or an alternative lender like an angel investor. Either way, they will want to know what your plans for your company are, including financial projections and marketing plans. Additionally, if you’re requesting a specific amount of money, you should show exactly how that money will help your business. What is the money going to be used for, and why does that help? The further out you can detail your finances, the better.