Composing a business plan can seem like an extremely daunting and sometimes impossible task but this troublesome document is crucial in building solid foundations on which you can grow your empire. Once you have nailed your business plan content and refined the format, you should find that everything else has a much stronger chance of falling into place.
A common misbelief is that a business plan is something that is created shortly after a viable idea for a start-up venture is conceived and filed away in a dusty ring binder forever after. However, you should see this document as a constant work in progress and something that you are editing and evolving all the time. For example, throughout your journey to entrepreneurial success, you will meet potential investors who could help you launch your enterprise to the next level and stand out in a saturated marketplace but they’re going to want to see an updated business plan first.
As a business owner, you are naturally always coming up with new ideas to reinvent, market and make your business more economically efficient so all you need to do is get it all down on paper. That’s where we come in! We’ve put together our top five tips for writing a smashing business plan and if you follow these, you’re sure to be on a one way trip to business breakthrough.
Keep your audience in mind – When writing or updating a business plan, keep your target audience at the forefront of your mind to help ensure that they are receiving all of the information they might require. One of the best pieces of advice that we have read and would like to reiterate to you here is how important it is to make your plan match its purpose. Of course, you will always need to include a general outline of what your company is about and the products your sell or the services you offer, as well as a mission statement, management information, details of financial operations and marketing strategy but the rest is open to calculated editing.
Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it when it comes to business plans because each individual banker, potential investor or financial supporter is going to want to establish what’s in it for them. Tailor your business plan for each new audience and focus largely on outlining to them the value and origins of their own personal ROI. They are looking for a new money-making opportunity, just like you, so make sure you show them exactly how they could benefit from getting on board.
Do your market research – This seems almost too obvious to include in our top tips for writing a good business plan but you would be surprised at the number of aspiring entrepreneurs who fail to investigate the marketplace fully before committing pen to paper. The world of business is like one big exam room where your success is constantly compared to the achievements of others. You wouldn’t walk into an important test without doing some preliminary revision would you, so why would the biggest project in your professional career be any different?
If you don’t know what you’re talking about or getting yourself into, potential investors will have no confidence in you and you are sure to be eaten alive by the competition. Being clued up on things like market size, predicated growth and how you can access the industry with your own niche product or service is vital for securing financial support and business success. These are all things that you should be hyper-aware of any way so getting it all down in a formal document shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.
Scope out the competition – The influential marketplace factors vary from business to business. While somebody looking to set up a retail unit might be interested in local population and potential footfall, someone launching an internet café might initially be more interested in finding a location that provides a speedy broadband connection. However, one thing that all businesses can be sure of, no matter what their size or sector, is that there will be stiff competition and this is something potential supporters are going to need to know you have covered.
Within the content of your business plan, you need to show that you have a solid understanding of the business landscape and economic environment that you are entering into and demonstrate how you will stand out from the crowd. Anybody interested in hopping aboard your business will want to know that you can provide something that the target demographic can’t already get for better and cheaper elsewhere. What have you got that your competitors haven’t? What is your USP? Where is the real demand for what you’re offering? These are the questions that your business plan needs to answer.
Pay attention to detail – When you’ve got your content in check and are sure that you have left no stone unturned and included all of the necessary information, it’s time to refine the physical format of your business plan. You can have the most ground-breaking ideas the world has ever seen but if your plan is littered with grammatical errors or haphazardly bound together with a single rusty staple, your ingenuity is fruitless.
Now is the time to proofread the document for yourself a million and one times and then get a billion other people to proofread it a trillion more times. When it comes to your business plan, you can never be too cautious so obtaining opinions from a variety of different perspectives is a great way to ensure yours is up to scratch.
Be vigilant in checking for spelling errors, incorrect punctuation, inconsistent fonts and figures that don’t add up. Accurate sums and realistic figures are vital otherwise you will likely find yourself being laughed right out of the boardroom. Be honest and meticulous about your predicted revenues, financial projections and deadline forecasts to save yourself unnecessary pressure in the future and disappointment on your supporters’ behalf. It is also worth creating a digital presentation version of your business plan and a PDF copy just so they are on hand if ever called upon.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for a helping hand. Seeking the advice of a professional isn’t counted as cheating and certainly won’t detract from your own hard work and entrepreneurial efforts. Enlisting the assistance of an expert is a great way to ensure that the content and overall appearance of your business plan is both accurate and professional. For example, if you’re not great with numbers then there is always somebody out there who is, who can help your put together an impressive cash flow chart or break-even diagram.
In fact, there are even services available that will write your business plan for you for a fee but who better to outline the plan of action than the very brains behind it?
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We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!