How to Create a Great Business Plan
A business plan is the bedrock of any company’s success. Without it, one cannot hope to steer the business in the right way and outmaneuver the competition. But, fleshing it out is much more complex than handling some ordinary homework assignment. There is a lot of ground to cover and it is best to go step-by-step.
After all, there are so many moving parts you need to include, while you are better off leaving out some things. You also must focus on critical components and dive into research. This may seem like too much to handle, but writing this key document does not have to turn into an ordeal, or consume all your time and energy. Here is how to get it right and propel your company forward.
Before you start putting things in black and white, there are a couple of tips you should know.
First of all, it is a good idea to keep things on-point and concise. Nobody wants to read a 50 or 100-pages document and you do want people to go through it without experiencing headaches. Not having fluff content in it also helps you use a business plan as a tool for growing a business. Therefore, rely on the power of market research and stick to facts and figures. Foolhardy optimism and empty promises do not cut it.
Moreover, you need to keep your target audience in mind, and write a plan in a language it understands. For instance, you want to accommodate investors, not turn them away with technical lingo. Another main purpose of a business plan is to serve as an actionable instrument for growing and managing a company. Thus, it needs to set tangible and measurable goals, as well as tools and systems for tracking progress.
Staples of business operations
Furthermore, get familiar with the main sections that compose a business plan and what they should entail. First on the list is an executive summary, which is basically an overview of your business and its aspirations and plans. This segment speaks volumes about who you are, and it typically does not occupy more than two pages. Next, you need to define the opportunity, explain what it is you are selling, and how it solves a particular problem for people in the market.
Speaking of which, it is of the utmost importance to identify your target audience and assess the competition in the sector. This will give you a clear idea of how you can fill a specific, unaddressed need of customers. Once that is sorted out, you should proceed to the execution section. Here, take your time figuring out sales and marketing plans, as well as workings of daily operations. In addition, describe your team, who you mean to hire, your location, distribution, and legal structure.
The financial section of the business plan is a vital piece of the puzzle, which determines your chances of attracting investors and securing bank loans. It includes sales forecasts, cash-flow statement, and expense budget. These financial projections resemble accounting statements, but they differ because they do not represent a historical view. Namely, you need to outline the company’s growth strategy and come up with solid numbers to back it up.
Of course, you have to possess enough fuel for your operations and expansion in the long-term. In other words, you should clarify how much money you need to get the business off the ground, and how you intend to raise it. Do not bother with specific terms of investment because that is up for negotiation later. In case you’re struggling with this number-crunching part, take financial planning courses. Arm yourself with knowledge and move forward with full confidence.
Finish on a high note
An appendix is the last section of the plan you can use to add any additional information you deem relevant. It also involves product images, resumes, tables, charts, permits, documents, and other details. Although this part of a business plan is usually not required, it can go a long way towards convincing others that you have a great business idea, and means of translating it into reality. Hence, I wouldn’t skip it.
Before we conclude, note that you can download templates online to make your life easier. Also, feel free to take baby steps and start with a one-page business plan instead of a fully-fledged, detailed one. Bear in mind that business plans are living documents that evolve together with your business. Therefore, remain flexible and update it every now and then when the new market realities, growth stages, unpredictable circumstances, and other situations arise.
Self-fulfilling prophecy of success
A business plan is integral to every profitable business. It encompasses a multitude of sections that need to fall together seamlessly and tell a story about who you are, what you offer, goals you set out to achieve. To lay the groundwork for sustainable long-term success, you also need to justify your business with solid figures on the bottom line. So, leverage the killer plan to win financing, fine-tune your operations, and manage your business better. Show due diligence, bring your ideas to life and maximize the chances of hitting it big. Also, be prepared to adjust the course as you go