Getting your business plan right can be an essential step on your company’s journey to success.
Many entrepreneurs may even question ‘do I need a business plan?’ and the answer to this is very much a ‘yes’.
For both established businesses and start-ups, a business plan is a crucial tool for planning out the future and reviewing the course along the way.
So, here are all our pointers on how to write the perfect business plan to help your company succeed.
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that states the goals of the organisation and how they will achieve them. Every company should write a business plan. They may come in the form of a quick one-pager or it may be an all-encompassing report, which features marketing and finance plans.
Reasons to Create a Business Plan
A business plan can be very important when entrepreneurs are applying for a loan or trying to attract potential investors, in fact, situations like this may be the only time business owners ever use one. But aside from raising funds, there are plenty of other advantages to writing a business plan and using it continuously.
Business plans can provide a better understanding of the market, reaffirm the figures, measure success, and drive forward the business.
Writing a business plan can enable business owners to take a step back and will force them to take time to research and evaluate, in turn providing greater strategic clarity. The business plan will help drive the company forward, identifying possible issues and how to negotiate them.
Writing a Business Plan
First of all, think about who your business plan is for. It could be aimed at potential investors, attracting business partners, or could be for personal use, as a method to develop your business.
When writing your plan, keep your target audience in mind and include any information they might want to know.
Write your business plan, so that an outsider to the business would be able to perfectly understand what the business does and what its objectives are.
Make sure content is short and simple and that there is no waffle. It should be concise and easy to read. If the plan is over a few pages long, then make sure to include a contents page.
Although your business plan should be individual to your company, they may typically include the following content:
- Executive Summary
- Company Summary
- The Market/Market Research/Strategy
- Competitor Analysis
If the recipient looks at nothing else, they will read this part. Your executive summary should provide an outline of the entire plan. It could be worth writing it at the end, so you can easily summarise the plan, and then use it to grab the interest of your audience.
Can you explain how your product or service offering will be beneficial to the customer? If you can’t put forward an argument for this, then it may be time to revisit and rethink your business idea.
Take some time to think about what makes your business unique. What does your business offer, that no one else can? Differentiating your product and service from the rest will help you stand out. Don’t forget this doesn’t apply to your product, it applies to your whole brand experience. Make sure this is expressed in your executive summary.
The brutal reality of a business plan is that it will outline if your business idea is viable or not.
Realism is essential to creating a business plan, so ensure all goals and expectations are realistic. Don’t be shy to be your own critic.
Confidence in your business proposition is very important and a certain level of optimism can be important – and also creates interest, however highly unrealistic goals will end up causing disappointment further down the line.
Over-inflated sales or underestimated costs may be obvious to investors and will reduce credibility. If you’re not the best at maths, then it may be worth looking for assistance and asking an expert.
Know your market. Conduct thorough research and present all your findings. Ensure there is a market for your business, show that you know your target market and be clear on competition.
Make sure to think about likely issues, such as competitor activity, and address these problems in the business plan. This will highlight any issues in advance, so you have to time to work around them and change your plan. Acknowledging potential problems and having solutions in place will reassure investors and provide peace of mind.
Remember there is a fine line between optimism and realism. It’s crucial to find this balance.
A business plan needs to be clear and easy to follow. Include a contents page and make sure the document follows a good order.
If your plan will be read by other people, then it should be typed out, spell-checked, and grammatically correct.
A fancy presentation is not necessary, but make sure it looks clean and professional. In some instances, a PowerPoint presentation could work well.
There is plenty of information available, so make the most of the internet, as there are countless templates and examples of business plans.
Revisit Your Plan
Your business plan will remain useful in the future. Remember to regularly review, update, and refer to it, as your business and the economy changes. Your business plan is essentially your roadmap.
So, there you have it! We hope our top tips prove useful, when writing the perfect business plan.
A business plan can help drive your company forward and is a fundamental step in your company's journey.
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