No matter if you are actively looking for sources of funding to help establish your business, or you are developing your ideas for future growth, you will need a solid business plan in place to underpin your efforts to make your business a success.
Your business plan is a key component that plays such an important role that it needs writing correctly. Let’s take a closer look at some basic rules about writing your business plan:
Keep your business plan short and sweet
As a business entrepreneur, you may have a head full of wonderful ideas for your company and where you can see it going in the future. However, it can be difficult to narrow down your ideas and translate them into solid plans for your business that are easy to follow through with.
Above all, your business plan should be kept short, sweet and to the point.
Doing this will mean delivering all the key information in a concise way to make it easy to read and understand by potential lenders or business partners.
Your business plan is very useful for two key areas of your business:
- You will want your business plan to be read, so keeping it short and to the point will give it a better chance of being looked at and read in full when seeing finance
- Your business plan is also acting as a guide book for your business, so it is something that you will use as you establish your business and can then be amended and refined over time as you create new business goals
Creating a business plan that is messy, overly-complicated and looks more like an idea sound-board that a step-by-step plan isn’t going to win you funding or inspire trust in you from potential business partners.
Don’t be scared about writing a business plan
Many business owners can be very good at a lot of different things, but it doesn’t mean that they are experts at writing a business plan. The thought of producing a plan can seem intimidating at first to those who have never had to write one before. However, just like you, every business owner had to start somewhere and learn how to write a plan.
The good news is that you don’t need a business degree to write your own business plan, you just need to know what information to include and how best to structure it to make it easy to read. If you know your business well enough and have a real drive and passion for it, then writing your plan can be easier than you think.
Keep it Lean
There has been a big trend recently among solo entrepreneurs and small business owners starting up ‘lean businesses‘. What this means in simple terms is stripping back the business to it’s bare bones and doing away with any fluff and excess that isn’t absolutely necessary or productive for the business.
You can apply the same strategy to your business plan too! There is absolutely no reason for you to start off with a full and overly-detailed business plan. You can start with a very lean one-page business plan if that is something that suits your company. You can then revisit your plan later and add more flesh to the bones as and when you need to.
Understand your target audience
When writing out a draft of your business plan, take some time to re-read it and look at it from your customer’s or target audience’s point of view. Try not to word your plan to sound too impressive and business-like.
Using language in your plan that your target audience will understand is the best way to write your plan.
Keeping a customer-centric mindset will help you to work backwards from your end customer and build a framework that makes sense and keeps the end goal of you customer always connected.
Think about your investors
Many business owners will be looking to secure financing for their business at some point, whether that is right at the beginning when essential equipment is needed, or further down the line for expansion or for the launch or addition of new products or services.
By keeping the explanations of your products or services simple and understandable, just like when you are using the viewpoint of your end customer or target audience, then your potential investors will more readily understand your business plan and be more willing to invest funds into your company.
What to include in your business plan
Now that we have covered how to approach writing your business plan, let’s look at what you may want to include. These are some suggestions you might want to consider, but some of these suggestions may not be applicable to your business so choose the ones that are going to be helpful and make sense for your company.
1. Business Plan Summary
This is a simple overview of your business plan. It can be useful to put this at the start of your plan, especially for when investors want to read a brief overview of your company quickly without having to flick through to the end of your business plan to find the information they want.
2. Who is your demographic
This section explains what you do or sell and who to. You can elaborate how your product or service solves a problem or fills a particular need within a specific market.
3. Business process
Here you will detail how you are going to take your idea and turn it into a successful business. You can explain your sales and marketing plans and how you are going to record and test results to improve future performance.
4. Introduce your team
This is where you will introduce the key members of your team to your potential investors. This will give potential investors confidence in your business, especially if you have strong team members on board with solid track records and good working knowledge of your industry.
5. Financial forecast
This is an important element of your plan. Every business plan needs a financial forecast and wouldn’t be complete without one. Work with your accountant on producing this for you.
You may need to add an appendix if you need more room to show product images or supply more detailed information about anything you referred to earlier in your plan.
Using the suggested content sections above, you can easily break down the task of writing your business plan into smaller and more manageable sections. Take your time to complete each section and move on to the next when you are completely happy with it. Before you know it, you will have written out a very comprehensive business plan without too much worry or stress!
Credit: photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator