The Internet is saturated with tips and guides on what to include in a business plan: business concept; goals, strategies, actions; products and services; market analysis and your competitive advantage; your proposed personnel team; and, of course a financing plan. If you are overly concerned about format there is also a plethora of resources that will guide you from the executive summary to the appendices that showcase the research and data supporting your plan. It is important to utilize these resources because you certainly want a complete plan, but what separates the okay business plans from the great plans?
As you create the written description of what you plan to do and how you plan to do it, here are some things to keep in mind:
· Keep it Short: succinctness is key; this is your elevator pitch to present the what, how and why
· Know Your Audience: your business plan is a sales document to attract investors; speak to them as you write
· Do Your Research: your investors will… utilize multiple sources and take advantage of the process to educate yourself on all aspects of your industry
· Be Specific: don’t get bogged down in technical details but do provide concrete and measurable objectives; do specify timelines, milestones, personnel responsible for each goal and all financial specifics available
· Be Realistic: stay grounded from your sales goals to your expenses to your timelines; assumptions are an expected part of any business plan – check your assumptions against industry benchmarks and provide rationalization whenever possible
· Be Confident: don’t simply try to convince your readers - prove the demand for your products or services; and avoid obsequious and arrogant language at all costs
· Don’t be Sloppy: errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar are inexcusable
· Present a Professional Document: show consistency in formatting of the margins, tables, page numbers, headings; and don’t get hung up on overall format – if it makes sense to present the market analysis as the second section, put it there
· Don’t be Greedy: a quick turnoff for investors is to stuff your funding requests with excessive salaries
· Be Organized: your plan should be easy to read, allowing the reader to move steadily from your assumptions to your justifications; keep your main points to 3 or 4 and be sure your strategy and tactics are aligned throughout the plan
Your business plan is a living, breathing document that is part of a cyclic process: plan, take action, examine results, follow-up, repeat. Tim Berry recommends to keep in mind the ratio of 10 parts implementation to 1-part strategy. Frontload your time and effort to create a blueprint for success that will guide your business for months or years to come.
Don't need investors, but want to develop a business plan so that all members of your team are clear on your vision and driving towards that goal? Want to make sure your spend and efforts are being targeted in the direction you a planning to go? Want a touch point to gauge if your planning is on course or needs adjustment? Whatever your stage of business or goals for establishing a business plan, we can help! Contact us today to review your specific business and its needs.