A business plan is one of an entrepreneur’s most crucial documents. It outlines an owner’s ideas, vision, and goals. More than identifying the type of business and products or services offered, the plan also includes the activities an enterprise is expected to perform to grow a business.
The document also discusses the market and strategies to make an enterprise stand out from the competition. It may also include essential apps and tools. For instance, if you’re a dog walking business for example, you might want to include customized software from Jobber to manage your customer relationships, scheduling, dispatching, and invoicing platforms.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all business plan, there are general tips that will improve this vital business document. Once you’re familiar with the basic framework, it’s time to think of ways to improve it.
- Conduct extensive research
While your business plan should focus on your business ideas, strategies, and projections, some sections will require familiarity with the market and your consumers. As a business owner, you must perform due diligence by looking into relevant data on the market, your niche, and the products or services you plan to offer. (1)
Capitalize on your prospects’ challenges and pain points to generate an offer they can’t resist or, at least, be interested in buying. Understanding the current market is vital to know how your brand can stand out from the competition.
If you have no idea what a business plan looks like, download a template and review it to know which information you need to supply and focus on. Choose a template that allows you to retain complete control, similar to this free downloadable estimate template that you can fully customize based on your unique business needs.
- Be succinct
It’s easy to get overzealous when putting your thoughts and vision into writing. However, writing a business plan that looks like a research paper isn’t a good idea. Cut the deadwood and keep your document brief yet insightful. Doing this is especially critical when applying for a loan, where you must focus on specific sections, particularly sound financial forecasting and planning.
Focus your discussion on income projections and spending and less on market behavior and your target audience’s preferences. Besides, you can attach some of the references and documents in the appendix. (3)
The same principle applies to the executive summary, which must focus on your vision and backstory. Don’t go too in-depth, or you’ll likely bore and confuse your audience instead of stirring their interest to read further. Your objectives and reasons must be clear from the get-go. (2)
- Take your readers’ perspective
Think about your audience, motivation, and purpose in making the document. If you’re presenting the business plan to a lending institution or venture capitalists, focus on the financial and market sections. A good proposal will include realistic projections about revenues, return on investment (ROI), and an exit strategy. (1) (2)
Your business plan structure will also depend on your chosen niche. If you’re a local business looking for government funding, aim for sustainability and underline social responsibility strategies such as tapping farmers in your area for raw materials.
Before sharing your document to various audiences, ensure that your business plan is comprehensive and don’t leave more questions than answers. Having an expert read and review your business plan before showing it to the public or investors is also a good idea. (3)
- Focus on the most important sections
Depending on your audience and purpose, some document sections may need to be highlighted more than others. However, as a general rule, you must focus on the following elements:
- Operations: Your business plan must discuss how your venture will be managed. Discuss the structure, the number of people you want to employ, procedures, and the strategies you’re taking in hitting your goals. If you’re planning to keep your workers to a minimum, it might be necessary to invest in automation and prepare for digital security breaches to increase productivity and efficiency.
- Unique proposition: An efficient operational plan can help you identify some potential problems you’ll face when managing your enterprise. But your product or service is the heart of your business. Anyone who’s taken an interest in reading your document wants to know what makes your brand different from the other ventures existing on the market. You’re already assured of their attention if you’re offering a breakthrough product. Of course, you must also have a transparent market for your products to make your business idea fly.
- Financials: Making realistic projections on how much money you need regularly and how much income you will earn is crucial. Financial forecasts, sales goals, expense budgets, and cash flow predictions and management must be highlighted in these sections.
A business plan is a guide that discusses how an enterprise can achieve its objectives. It helps entrepreneurs and managers identify potential problems and make strategic business decisions. Additionally, this non-static document must be reviewed and revised to increase your chances of growth and success.