There are business plans, and then there are great business plans. The difference between the two is in how successfully they help you achieve your goals. A great business plan will enable you to grow your business – it can help you create better business strategies, attract investors, and even prevent you from pursuing the wrong business opportunities.
When creating a business plan, you want to ensure it serves your purpose. Anything short of that will not yield optimum results. The good news is that it is possible to create a great business plan on your own. Below you will learn how to write a business plan that can help you successfully achieve your goals.
1) Create a complete business plan
A complete business plan is a comprehensive one that contains 10 essential components. These are:
- Executive summary
- Company analysis
- Market/industry analysis
- Customer analysis
- Competition analysis
- Marketing plan
- Operations plan
- Management team
- Financial plan
Miss out on any of these essential components, and you risk losing lenders, investors, customers, and/or employees that you hope to reach with your business plan.
2) Create an attractive title page
The title or cover page is what your readers are going to see first. Its quality, structure, and appearance play a critical role in creating the first impression of your business plan. So, it must be informative and professional. At the same time, it should be straightforward and simple. The cover page must contain the following information:
- The company name
- Business address and your contact information
- Company logo
- The completion date of the business plan
3) Know your audience (s)
You can write a business plan for a variety of reasons and various audiences. For example, the objective of your business plan could be to attract investments. Then, your primary audience would be potential investors and lenders. You can also write a business plan for prospective customers or potential employees.
Know who you are writing for and the purpose of your business plan. That way, you can factor in the concerns and needs of your audience and effectively communicate with them. Ensure you address these needs and concerns throughout your business plan.
4) Avoid using jargon
Business jargon could interfere with the clarity of your message. Instead of using business jargon, write your plan in language familiar to your audience.
Sometimes, it’s impossible to avoid a particular term, and that is okay. If you must use words your audience might not understand, be sure to first define those terms. That will not only make your plan easier to understand, but it will also educate your readers. Use this technique of adding definitions sparingly, so you don’t distract your readers from the purpose of your business plan.
5) For startups – List only one product/service idea
Most successful companies begin with a single product or service. Once this product or service gains success and the business establishes itself, it rolls out more products/services.
Even if you offer more than one product/service, concentrate on discussing just your primary one in your plan.
Seasoned investors have seen thousands of business plans that talk of growth plans that were never realized. As a result, they are skeptical about companies that talk about growing multiple products/services simultaneously. They have more faith in companies with reasonable expectations than companies that plan to expand all their products/services at once.
Once you achieve certain milestones with your leading product/service, you can concentrate on adding your other products/services to your business plan.
6) Ensure your business plan is thorough
As well as including all the critical elements, your business plan must also be thorough. A great business plan is anywhere between 15 to 25 pages long. That means 15 to 25 pages of relevant content.
Ensure you concentrate on sections that are relevant to your target audience. For example, if you want your business plan to attract investors, ensure the financial plan section is detailed out completely. It must include the:
That is, how you generate sales. That could include advertising, markups, subscriptions, direct sales, and commission.
That is a five-year financial forecast of expenses and projected income, known as your Income Statement. It must also include a Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement.
This discussed how much money you need, and how you will use that money.
Similarly, if you want your business plan to attract and retain new employees, take the time to address concerns that potential employees might have regarding your business. You can also explain and convince potential employees that your company’s ideas are sound and that the company is poised to achieve its strategic goals.
Before beginning your business plan, understand who your audience is, what they need, and what you expect to achieve through the document. Conduct research before you start writing your plan. The document must flow seamlessly from one section to the next, with each area written in detail to answer key questions your reader might have. Consider all the above points and include them in your business plan, and you can transform what would otherwise be a mediocre business plan into a great business plan.
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