How to write a business plan for a site and ground investigation firm?
Writing a business plan for a site and ground investigation firm can be an intimidating task, especially for those just starting.
This in-depth guide is designed to help entrepreneurs like you understand how to create a comprehensive business plan so that you can approach the exercise with method and confidence.
We'll cover: why writing a site and ground investigation firm business plan is so important - both when starting up, and when running and growing the business - what information you need to include in your plan, how it should be structured, and what tools you can use to get the job done efficiently.
Let's get started!
Why write a business plan for a site and ground investigation firm?
Being clear on the scope and goals of the document will make it easier to understand its structure and content. So before diving into the actual content of the plan, let's have a quick look at the main reasons why you would want to write a site and ground investigation firm business plan in the first place.
To have a clear roadmap to grow the business
Running a small business is tough! Economic cycles bring growth and recessions, while the business landscape is ever-changing with new technologies, regulations, competitors, and consumer behaviours emerging constantly.
In such a dynamic context, operating a business without a clear roadmap is akin to driving blindfolded: it's risky, to say the least. That's why crafting a business plan for your site and ground investigation firm is vital to establish a successful and sustainable venture.
To create an effective business plan, you'll need to assess your current position (if you're already in business) and define where you want the business to be in the next three to five years.
Once you have a clear destination for your site and ground investigation firm, you'll have to:
- Identify the necessary resources (human, equipment, and capital) needed to reach your goals,
- Determine the pace at which the business needs to progress to meet its objectives as scheduled,
- Recognize and address the potential risks you may encounter along the way.
Engaging in this process regularly proves advantageous for both startups and established companies. It empowers you to make informed decisions about resource allocation, ensuring the long-term success of your business.
To maintain visibility on future cash flows
Businesses can go for years without making a profit, but they go bust as soon as they run out of cash. That's why "cash is king", and maintaining visibility on your site and ground investigation firm's future cash flows is critical.
How do I do that? That's simple: you need an up-to-date financial forecast.
The good news is that your site and ground investigation firm business plan already contains a financial forecast (more on that later in this guide), so all you have to do is to keep it up-to-date.
To do this, you need to regularly compare the actual financial performance of your business to what was planned in your financial forecast, and adjust the forecast based on the current trajectory of your business.
Monitoring your site and ground investigation firm's financial health will enable you to identify potential financial problems (such as an unexpected cash shortfall) early and to put in place corrective measures. It will also allow you to detect and capitalize on potential growth opportunities (higher demand from a given segment of customers for example).
To secure financing
Crafting a comprehensive business plan for your site and ground investigation firm, whether you're starting up or already established, is paramount when you're seeking financing from banks or investors.
Given how fragile small businesses are, financiers will want to ensure that you have a clear roadmap in place as well as command and control of your future cash flows before entertaining the idea of funding you.
For banks, the information in your business plan will be used to assess your borrowing capacity - which is defined as the maximum amount of debt your business can afford alongside your ability to repay the loan. This evaluation helps them decide whether to extend credit to your business and under what terms (interest rate, duration, repayment options, collateral, etc.).
Similarly, investors will thoroughly review your plan to determine if their investment can yield an attractive return. They'll be looking for evidence that your site and ground investigation firm has the potential for healthy growth, profitability, and consistent cash flow generation over time.
Now that you understand the importance of creating a business plan for your site and ground investigation firm, let's delve into the necessary information needed to craft an effective plan.
Information needed to create a business plan for a site and ground investigation firm
You need the right data in order to project sales, investments and costs accurately in the financial forecast of your site and ground investigation firm business plan.
Below, we'll cover three key pieces of information you should gather before drafting your business plan.
Carrying out market research for a site and ground investigation firm
As you consider writing your business plan for a site and ground investigation firm, conducting market research becomes a vital step to ensure accurate and realistic financial projections.
Market research provides valuable insights into your target customer base, competitors, pricing strategies, and other key factors that can significantly impact the commercial success of your business.
Through this research, you may uncover trends that could influence your site and ground investigation firm.
You may discover that there is a growing demand for more comprehensive ground investigation services. This could be an indication that customers are looking for fuller solutions, rather than just a piecemeal approach. Additionally, you might find that customers are increasingly interested in digital solutions for their ground investigation needs. This could be a sign that customers are looking for more efficient and cost-effective methods of gathering and analyzing data.
Such market trends play a significant role in forecasting revenue, as they offer valuable data about potential customers' spending habits and preferences.
By incorporating these findings into your financial projections, you can present investors with more accurate information, helping them make informed decisions about investing in your site and ground investigation firm.
Developing the sales and marketing plan for a site and ground investigation firm
As you embark on creating your site and ground investigation firm business plan, it is crucial to budget sales and marketing expenses beforehand.
A well-defined sales and marketing plan should include precise projections of the actions required to acquire and retain customers. It will also outline the necessary workforce to execute these initiatives and the budget required for promotions, advertising, and other marketing efforts.
This approach ensures that the appropriate amount of resources is allocated to these activities, aligning with the sales and growth objectives outlined in your business plan.
The staffing and equipment needs of a site and ground investigation firm
As you embark on starting or expanding your site and ground investigation firm, having a clear plan for recruitment and capital expenditures (investment in equipment and real estate) is essential for ensuring your business's success.
Both the recruitment and investment plans must align with the timing and level of growth projected in your forecast, and they require appropriate funding.
A site and ground investigation firm might incur staffing costs such as wages and salaries for engineers, geologists, and other specialists, as well as costs for travel and accommodation for staff on site. Additionally, the firm might incur costs for specialised equipment, such as drilling rigs, geophysical survey equipment, and laboratory analysis equipment.
To create a realistic financial forecast, you also need to consider other operating expenses associated with the day-to-day running of your business, such as insurance and bookkeeping.
With all the necessary information at hand, you are ready to begin crafting your business plan and developing your financial forecast.
What goes into your site and ground investigation firm's financial forecast?
The objective of the financial forecast of your site and ground investigation firm's business plan is to show the growth, profitability, funding requirements, and cash generation potential of your business over the next 3 to 5 years.
The four key outputs of a financial forecast for a site and ground investigation firm are:
- The profit and loss (P&L) statement,
- The projected balance sheet,
- The cash flow forecast,
- And the sources and uses table.
Let's look at each of these in a bit more detail.
The projected P&L statement
Your site and ground investigation firm forecasted P&L statement enables the reader of your business plan to get an idea of how much revenue and profits your business is expected to make in the near future.
Ideally, your reader will want to see:
- Growth above the inflation level
- Expanding profit margins
- Positive net profit throughout the plan
Expectations for an established site and ground investigation firm will of course be different than for a startup. Existing businesses which have reached their cruising altitude might have slower growth and higher margins than ventures just being started.
The projected balance sheet of your site and ground investigation firm
Your site and ground investigation firm's forecasted balance sheet enables the reader of your plan to assess your financial structure, working capital, and investment policy.
It is composed of three types of elements: assets, liabilities and equity:
- Assets: represent what the business owns and uses to produce cash flows. It includes resources such as cash, equipment, and accounts receivable (money owed by clients).
- Liabilities: represent funds advanced to the business by lenders and other creditors. It includes items such as accounts payable (money owed to suppliers), taxes due and loans.
- Equity: is the combination of what has been invested by the business owners and the cumulative profits and losses generated by the business to date (which are called retained earnings). Equity is a proxy for the value of the owner's stake in the business.
Your site and ground investigation firm's balance sheet will usually be analyzed in conjunction with the other financial statements included in your forecast.
Two key points of focus will be:
- Your site and ground investigation firm's liquidity: does your business have sufficient cash and short-term assets to pay what it owes over the next 12 months?
- And its solvency: does your business have the capacity to repay its debt over the medium-term?
The cash flow forecast
A projected cash flow statement for a site and ground investigation firm is used to show how much cash the business is generating or consuming.
The cash flow forecast is usually organized by nature to show three key metrics:
- The operating cash flow: do the core business activities generate or consume cash?
- The investing cash flow: how much is the business investing in long-term assets (this is usually compared to the level of fixed assets on the balance sheet to assess whether the business is regularly maintaining and renewing its equipment)?
- The financing cash flow: is the business raising new financing or repaying financiers (debt repayment, dividends)?
As we discussed earlier, cash is king and keeping an eye on future cash flows an imperative for running a successful business. Therefore, you can expect the reader of your site and ground investigation firm business plan to pay close attention to your cash flow forecast.
Also, note that it is customary to provide both yearly and monthly cash flow forecasts in a business plan - so that the reader can analyze seasonal variation and ensure the site and ground investigation firm is appropriately funded.
The initial financing plan
The initial financing plan, also known as a sources and uses table, is a valuable resource to have in your business plan when starting your site and ground investigation firm as it reveals the origins of the money needed to establish the business (sources) and how it will be allocated (uses).
Having this table helps show what costs are involved in setting up your site and ground investigation firm, how risks are shared between founders, investors and lenders, and what the starting cash position will be. This cash position needs to be sufficient to sustain operations until the business reaches a break-even point.
Now that you have a clear understanding of what goes into the financial forecast of your site and ground investigation firm business plan, let's shift our focus to the written part of the plan.
Need inspiration for your business plan?
The Business Plan Shop has dozens of business plan templates that you can use to get a clear idea of what a complete business plan looks like.
The written part of a site and ground investigation firm business plan
The written part of a site and ground investigation firm business plan is composed of 7 main sections:
- The executive summary
- The presentation of the company
- The products and services
- The market analysis
- The strategy
- The operations
- The financial plan
Throughout these sections, you will seek to provide the reader with the details and context needed for them to form a view on whether or not your business plan is achievable and your forecast a realistic possibility.
Let's go through the content of each section in more detail!
1. The executive summary
The first section of your site and ground investigation firm's business plan is the executive summary which provides, as its name suggests, an enticing summary of your plan which should hook the reader and make them want to know more about your business.
When writing the executive summary, it is important to provide an overview of the business, the market, the key financials, and what you are asking from the reader.
Start with a brief introduction of the business, its name, concept, location, how long it has been in operation, and what makes it unique. Mention any services or products you plan to offer and who you sell to.
Then you should follow with an overview of the addressable market for your site and ground investigation firm, current trends, and potential growth opportunities.
You should then include a summary of your key financial figures such as projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.
Finally, you should detail any funding requirements in the ask section.
2. The presentation of the company
The second section in your site and ground investigation firm's business plan should focus on the structure and ownership, location, and management team of the company.
The structure and ownership part provides an overview of the legal structure of the business, who the owners are and how much each has invested and owns. If you are seeking financing it is important that the reader gets a clear picture of which legal entity is receiving the funds, and who controls the business.
The location part should give an overview of the premises from which the company is operating, and why that location is of particular interest (catchment area, accessibility, amenities nearby, etc.).
When describing the location of your site and ground investigation firm to a third party financier, you could emphasize its potential for future growth. You may point out that the location is well-connected to a larger metropolitan area, which could provide an opportunity to expand operations and access new customers. You could also explain that the area is known for its business-friendly environment and strong infrastructure, which could offer additional advantages for the firm. Finally, you might highlight the area’s educated workforce, which could give the firm access to a talented and knowledgeable labor pool.
Finally, you should introduce the management team. Explain each member's role, background, and experience.
It is also important to emphasize any past successes that the members of the management team have achieved, and how long they've been working together, as this will help potential lenders or investors understand why they should trust in their leadership.
3. The products and services section
The products and services section of your business plan should include a detailed description of the offerings that your company provides to its customers.
For example, your site and ground investigation firm could offer customers soil and rock testing, geotechnical investigations, and environmental assessments. Soil and rock testing can help determine the composition of a particular area so that the best foundation can be chosen for a structure. Geotechnical investigations help identify any underlying issues of a site that could affect a building's stability. An environmental assessment helps identify any potential hazards that could be present on a site such as hazardous materials, toxic waste, and other pollutants. With the data gathered from these services, customers can make informed decisions about their projects.
When drafting this section, you should be precise about the categories of products or services you sell, the types of customers you are targeting and how customers can buy them.
4. The market analysis
When presenting your market analysis in your site and ground investigation firm business plan, you should detail the customers' demographics and segmentation, target market, competition, barriers to entry, and any regulations that may apply.
The goal of this section is to help the reader understand how big and attractive your market is, and demonstrate that you have a solid understanding of the industry.
You should start with the demographics and segmentation subsection, which gives an overview of the addressable market for your site and ground investigation firm, the main trends in the marketplace, and introduces the different customer segments and their preferences in terms of purchasing habits and budgets.
The target market section should follow and zoom on the customer segments your site and ground investigation firm is targeting, and explain how your products and services meet the specific needs of these customers.
For example, your target market might include civil engineering firms that are in the process of developing a new construction project. These firms would need to assess the site conditions and the ground properties before they can move forward. They could benefit from the expertise and services of a site and ground investigation firm to make sure that the project is safe and feasible.
Then comes the competition subsection, where you should introduce your main competitors and explain what differentiates you from them.
Finally, you should finish your market analysis by giving an overview of the main regulations applicable to your site and ground investigation firm.
5. The strategy section
When you write the strategy section of your site and ground investigation firm business plan, remember to cover key elements such as your competitive edge, pricing strategy, sales & marketing plan, milestones, and risks and mitigants.
In the competitive edge subsection, elaborate on what makes your company stand out from competitors. This becomes especially important if you're a startup, aiming to carve a place for yourself amidst established players in the marketplace.
The pricing strategy subsection should demonstrate how you plan to maintain profitability while offering competitive prices to attract customers.
Outline your sales & marketing plan, detailing how you'll reach out to new customers and retain existing ones through loyalty programs or special offers.
For the milestones subsection, outline your company's achievements to date and your main objectives for the future, complete with specific dates to set clear expectations for progress.
Lastly, the risks and mitigants subsection should address the main risks that could affect your plan's execution. Explain the measures you've put in place to minimize these risks, assuring potential investors or lenders.
Your site and ground investigation firm could face a variety of risks. For example, there may be a risk of not having the right equipment or personnel to complete the job correctly. If this were to happen, it could lead to a delay in the completion of the project, or worse, the project could be done improperly. Another risk your firm may face is financial. There may be a risk that a client does not pay for the services provided, resulting in a financial loss. This could be compounded if the job was done incorrectly and the client had to hire another firm to finish the job.
6. The operations section
The operations of your site and ground investigation firm must be presented in detail in your business plan.
The first thing you should cover in this section is your staffing team, the main roles, and the overall recruitment plan to support the growth expected in your business plan. You should also outline the qualifications and experience necessary to fulfil each role, and how you intend to recruit (using job boards, referrals, or headhunters).
You should then state the operating hours of your site and ground investigation firm - so that the reader can check the adequacy of your staffing levels - and any plans for varying opening times during peak season. Additionally, the plan should include details on how you will handle customer queries outside of normal operating hours.
The next part of this section should focus on the key assets and IP required to operate your business. If you depend on any licenses or trademarks, physical structures (equipment or property) or lease agreements, these should all go in there.
You might have key assets such as your staff and their expertise, as well as your equipment. Your intellectual property could be proprietary software, data, and methods developed over time and used to analyze and interpret site and ground investigation data. Your team may also have specialized knowledge and experience that gives you a competitive edge in the industry.
Finally, you should include a list of suppliers that you plan to work with and a breakdown of their services and main commercial terms (price, payment terms, contract duration, etc.). Investors are always keen to know if there is a particular reason why you have chosen to work with a specific supplier (higher-quality products or past relationships for example).
7. The presentation of the financial plan
The financial plan section is where we will present the financial forecast we talked about earlier in this guide.
Now that you have a clear idea of what goes in your site and ground investigation firm business plan, let's look at the solutions you can use to draft yours.
What tool should I use to write my site and ground investigation firm's business plan?
In this section, we will be reviewing the two main solutions for creating a site and ground investigation firm business plan:
- Using specialized online business plan software,
- Outsourcing the plan to the business plan writer.
Using an online business plan software for your site and ground investigation firm's business plan
The modern and most efficient way to write a site and ground investigation firm business plan is to use business plan software.
There are several advantages to using specialized software:
- You can easily create your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you without errors
- You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
- You can access a library of dozens of complete business plan samples and templates for inspiration
- You get a professional business plan, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank or investors
- You can easily track your actual financial performance against your financial forecast
- You can create scenarios to stress test your forecast's main assumptions
- You can easily update your forecast as time goes by to maintain visibility on future cash flows
- You have a friendly support team on standby to assist you when you are stuck
If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try The Business Plan Shop for free by signing up here.
Hiring a business plan writer to write your site and ground investigation firm's business plan
Outsourcing your site and ground investigation firm business plan to a business plan writer can also be a viable option.
These writers possess valuable experience in crafting business plans and creating accurate financial forecasts. Additionally, enlisting their services can save you precious time, enabling you to concentrate on the day-to-day operations of your business.
It's important to be mindful, though, that hiring business plan writers comes with a cost. You'll be paying not just for their time but also for the software they use, and their profit margin.
Based on experience, a complete business plan usually requires a budget of at least £1.5k ($2.0k) excluding tax, and more if revisions are needed after initial meetings with lenders or investors - changes often arise following these discussions.
When seeking investment, be cautious about spending too much on consulting fees. Investors prefer their funds to contribute directly to business growth. Thus, the amount you spend on business plan writing services and other consulting services should be negligible compared to the amount you raise.
Another aspect to consider is that while you'll receive the output of the business plan, you usually won't own the actual document. It will be saved in the consultant's business plan software, which will make updating the plan challenging without retaining the consultant on a retainer.
Given these factors, it's essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing your site and ground investigation firm business plan to a business plan writer and decide what best suits your business's unique needs.
Why not create your site and ground investigation firm's business plan using Word or Excel?
Using Microsoft Excel and Word (or their Google, Apple, or open-source equivalents) to write a site and ground investigation firm business plan is a terrible idea.
For starters, creating an accurate and error-free financial forecast on Excel (or any spreadsheet) is very technical and requires both a strong grasp of accounting principles and solid skills in financial modelling.
As a result, it is unlikely anyone will trust your numbers unless - like us at The Business Plan Shop - you hold a degree in finance and accounting and have significant financial modelling experience in your past.
The second reason is that it is inefficient. Building forecasts on spreadsheets was the only option in the 1990s and early 2000s, nowadays technology has advanced and software can do it much faster and much more accurately.
And with the rise of AI, software is also becoming smarter at helping us detect mistakes in our forecasts and helping us analyse the numbers to make better decisions.
Also, using software makes it easy to compare actuals vs. forecasts and maintain our forecasts up to date to maintain visibility on future cash flows - as we discussed earlier in this guide - whereas this is a pain to do with a spreadsheet.
That's for the forecast, but what about the written part of my site and ground investigation firm business plan?
This part is less error-prone, but here also software brings tremendous gains in productivity:
- Word processors don't include instructions and examples for each part of your business plan
- Word processors don't update your numbers automatically when they change in your forecast
- Word processors don't handle the formatting for you
Overall, while Word or Excel may be viable options for creating a site and ground investigation firm business plan for some entrepreneurs, it is by far not the best or most efficient solution.
- A business plan has 2 complementary parts: a financial forecast showcasing the expected growth, profits and cash flows of the business; and a written part which provides the context needed to judge if the forecast is realistic and relevant.
- Having an up-to-date business plan is the only way to keep visibility on your site and ground investigation firm's future cash flows.
- Using business plan software is the modern way of writing and maintaining business plans.
We hope that this practical guide gave you insights on how to write the business plan for your site and ground investigation firm. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our team if you still have questions.
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