What Are the Key Assumptions of a Business Plan?

We make more assumptions in business plans than you might realize. It is, after all, a plan for something you’re going to do, not something that’s already happened. In order to have the most successful business plan, you need to have a few key assumptions that point to certain areas of your business and how it’s going to function. These assumptions attract potential investors, help secure bank loans and help put you on a path to having a profitable venture.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Before making serious decisions about your startup, you must examine the key assumptions in your business plan.

Key Assumptions Definition

In a business plan, a key assumption’s definition is basically the most important who, what, when and how you need to run your business. Every business plan is filled with assumptions. We can’t accurately say whether a business will for sure be profitable or that you’ll be able to pay off your loan in some number of years, but you can make a really educated assumption.

The most important of these assumptions are called key assumptions, and potential investors usually need to see this information before they decide to put in money. Business plan assumptions examples range from financing, consumer base and profitability to management and resources.

Key Assumption 1: Finances

One of the business plan assumptions examples is finances. Do you have the funding to run your company until it becomes profitable? How are you going to pay for all of the expensive things a business requires – this includes office rent, salaries, insurance, products and marketing.

It’s extremely important to include financial projections in your business plan to help convince investors or banks that your company has a realistic path to success. It doesn’t have to be immediate. Companies often take years to turn a profit, and one of the largest mistakes that business owners make is assuming that sales alone will support business operations.

Your business will be most attractive to potential investors if you have enough capital to run until you think you’ll break even. As a key assumption, you should disclose investment figures and loan amounts in your business plan.

Key Assumptions 2: Consumer Base

The key assumptions definition is assumptions that are key (i.e. your business plan is a failure without them). When it comes down to it, nothing is more important to a business than having actual customers. Who are you generating sales from? Are you a "b2b" business (selling to other business) or "b2c" (selling directly to individual customers). Who are the people you’re servicing?

As one of the key assumptions in a business plan, your customer base must be outlined carefully. Yes, a niche business can be successful, but you should really show that there’s enough of a customer base to turn a profit. You should also note the potential to tap into other markets or expand to different types of consumers.

Key Assumptions 3: Need

Your company isn’t worth anything if nobody actually needs what you’re offering. Yes, you might have a certain consumer base, but investors need to know why people will choose your product over others. This is one of the key assumptions in a business plan that might just be the most important of all.

As one of the many business plan assumptions examples, need might require the most research. You’re going to have to look into your competitors – be it locally or nationally – and figure out what makes your product different. Outline the need and how your product fills that hole. If you can’t figure this out, your business will undoubtedly fail.

Key Assumptions 4: Resources

You can’t run a business if you’re short on resources. That’s why this is a key assumption that should be worked into every business plan. You need to make sure you have the resources – whether that’s access to qualified employees or specialized equipment – before securing a loan or funding. No one is going to want to invest in a company that can’t get off the ground.

One of the most dangerous assumptions for potential startup owners is believing you’ll have access to top talent. In reality, that talent might not want to work for you in favor of a fully-funded tech startup with a fat paycheck and some history of proven success. Keep an eye out for talent pools and try to secure some talent before approaching investors.

Key Assumptions 5: Profitability

We might really believe in our products and the value they give our communities and consumer base, but investors really only care about the bottom line: can you turn a profit? Outline this clearly in your business plan. How many months do you think it will take to start becoming profitable. What steps do you have in place to make sure this ultimate goal is realized?

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About the Author

Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.