First things first, what is a business plan?
A business plan is essentially a document that states what your business is about, and what the future of it is going to be. This further develops to include the how, why, and other important details about your business.
Does that mean every business needs a plan? No, but it sure did start out with one. Startups have business plans to woo potential investors for capital, but so do established businesses seeking financial aid.
However, a business plan is not necessarily restricted only to funding requirements. People create business plans to convey the aims and vision for their venture, to deal with suppliers, to attract new employees or simply to update existing plan details.
The absolute golden rules to play by while writing your plan areas follows:
- Keep it short and simple, if you want it to be read.
- Know who your audience is going to be instead of submitting a generic template to all investors, and
- Be confident about what you’re pitching
So now that we have these basic guidelines out of the way, let’s explore what exactly the key ingredients to a perfect business plan are. It is a plan that conveys your business’ goals, obstacles, motivation for the investors, and plans to achieve it all.
But how does one get there? Simply ensure that your plan has the right pinch of all the sections below — and you’ll be good to go! Let’s see each key element of a business plan one by one.
The executive summary is the hook of your entire plan and if it doesn’t catch your investor’s fancy, you can forget about that investment.
What people tend to do is layer their plan with page after page of generic text and unnecessary jargon and detail that isn’t impressing (or fooling) anyone. Instead of trying to look smart and failing, it’s better to offer the reader what they want to read immediately, and that is the gist of your entire plan.
How do you go about that? By asking and answering a few basic questions.
- What is my business about?
- How am I going to achieve the business goals I’ve set?
- What do I need from you, the stakeholders?
- What’s in it for you, the customers?
Give or take a few more parameters that detail things better, these are the four basic questions that need to be answered in simple words within your summary.
Pro tip: Remember to keep it short, with the writing crisp and concise!
2. Describe your business
If they’ve read your summary and are still sitting there, you’re on the right track. The next step would be to lead them further into your business, beginning with a description of the industry. Discuss the current scenario and future possibilities for growth, remember that the plan is about the future of your business as much as about the present.
Furthermore, your plan should also include any new products or developments that will benefit or adversely affect your business.
3. Market strategies and analysis
This part of your plan can only be written after a lot of research. You need to thoroughly analyze market forces in order to define a lot of parameters crucial to your plan and business itself. Who is going to be the target audience for your product/service, what the pricing for the same going to be, packaging, etc. is all determined after gaining a holistic perspective of the market.
Your market analysis is going to shape your entire branding and company position, thereby enabling you to understand what your market share of sales is going to eventually look like.
4. Competitor analysis
A comprehensive data plan will always include a competitive analysis. In order to survive in the business, one needs to have a clear idea of what their competitors are doing and how it can be improved upon.
Apart from a SWOT analysis of your competitors, you need to highlight what your business’s edge is, and what’s going to set you apart from the rest of them out there. You can also present a proposition to develop strategies that will ensure you constantly have an advantage, as well as to protect any weaknesses from being exploited in the developmental stages.
5. Design and development plan
Now that you’ve outlined the general marketing strategies involved with your business, it’s time you introduce the actual product or service into question with better detail.
Basically, this section will include a meticulous description of your product or service in question, an insight into how you’re going to go around with the production, and an idea of the company’s essence itself. This section will also include a developmental budget for how you’re going to go about achieving the end results.
6. Operations and management plan
The most logistical part of your entire plan, this whole section can be transformed from boring to creative with the right amount of spunk.
Essentially, your plan must describe the functions of your business right from the different teams, their responsibilities, tasks, and goals as well as the capital and expense requirements involved.
7. Financial factors
The front, back, top and bottom of every business plan irrespective of the intention is the financial aspect of it. A budget is going to be part of every section, but still requires a separate section detailing the requirement and potential usage right down to the last cent.
As investors, there will always be a certain degree of reluctance, and it is that hesitance that your business plan has to combat.
Simply put, business plans are all about strategizing in a manner that conveys all the information simply, yet convincingly enough. You’re at this place, with a certain amount of capabilities and capital in hand. What your plan is going to help you achieve is getting to the other place, with a greater profit, assets and capabilities.
And if you need an extra helping hand (and eyes!), our editors at PaperTrue could help you whip up a delicious and perfect plan quickly! If you’re interested in learning more about business writing, you can also head over to blog.papertrue.com.
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