Writing a detailed business plan is an important part of setting up your new business. If you are an entrepreneur who is seeking to boost the chances of your startup surviving the test of time, writing a business plan has to be your first step. Here are some tips that can make this seemingly daunting task easier and give you something to start with. There’s also a FREE BUSINESS PLAN TEMPLATE at the bottom that you can download and use to start writing your own.
1. Write for your reader.
The first thing to ask yourself before you start writing the plan is: Who is going to read this plan? Is it a potential investor? Is it a potential partner? Once the audience is clear, the writing will get direction. You must be able to adapt your plan for different readers, as they will each have very specific requirements. For example, a possible investor will want to see detailed descriptions of the return on their investment and the timeline for when they will get back their money.
2. Market research is a must.
Market research is a very vital step that every serious entrepreneur must undertake in order to ensure business growth in the market place. The market research that you detail out in your business plan must include things like a description of your industry and information about the market size. It must have details about the envisaged growth of your business and how it will penetrate and make an impact in your market. You must also have information about your competitors and their market share and impact.
3. Know your competition well.
A lot of startups overlook the importance of studying and understanding their competition and their influence in the marketplace. Is your business in an industry that is overly competitive or is it in one that lacks sufficient competition? Both of these scenarios have their own challenges but you can only deal with those challenges when you know what kind of competition you are dealing with.
4. Get detailed and descriptive.
In an effort to make you plan concise, don’t leave out important details. Take the liberty to get descriptive in each section that you write and make sure that all of the information you include is backed by data and decisions that are informed. The plan should reflect competence and should be well written with no errors, typos, misinformation, wrong data, incorrect projections, etc. Write your detailed plan out in a word document but it can help to have a PowerPoint version of it too for you to use as a presentation.
5. Cover all grounds.
According to the industry that you serve in, ensure that your plan covers all the necessary information like your Vision, Mission, Purpose, Company Type, Product/Service, Market, Competition, Management, Internal Structure, Operations, Work Flow and Financials. It must also have a five year plan that covers in detail what the company intends to do over the next five years. It must have graphs, charts and necessary supporting data to fill all these sections with.
6. Do the math.
The numbers you project in your plan will be extremely important especially when a potential investor or partner is looking at it. Keep your numbers conservative and realistic. If math isn’t your strong area, get someone who understands finances well to help you with your projections. Make sure your financials include an operating budget, cash flow details and sales projections for different periods of time. You must also include a break-even plan that will help investors know when they will benefit from the money they invest in your business.
7. Your executive summary is very important.
Perhaps the most important part of your plan will be the Executive Summary that you start with. It is basically a summary highlighting the most important parts of the plan at the start. For readers who are hard-pressed for time, this summary will give them a taste of what your plan is about and will help them know if they want to read further. This is why the Executive Summary must be written well. It must be concise but also must be interesting enough to make people want to know more detail. It has to have something that will ‘wow’ your audience!
8. Review your plan and implement it.
Have someone who is completely detached from your business and process to review your plan and give you objective feedback on how to improve it. Make sure you edit the plan as needed and make changes in it till it is finished but remember that finishing your plan is actually the beginning of everything! Now, make sure you implement it. What’s the point of the plan, if it isn’t followed up with action. Keep your business plan as a live document that you can go back to and update with the changes and learnings you experience as you conduct your business.
A successful business plan is one that helps the organisation achieve it’s set goals and helps the entrepreneur focus on the purpose and vision at all times.
Comment below with your thoughts and ideas. Also, download a free business plan template to help you get started today!
Author: Rebecca Pearson
Rebecca Pearson is the Founder & CEO of Five Stones Media House, a creative branding agency based in Mumbai. Five Stones provides bespoke branding solutions that help them achieve their business goals through creative visual branding, websites, SMM, SEO, event management and content solutions. We journey closely with brands in a dedicated and passionate way and help them fulfill their purpose.