Coming up with an idea for a business is often the easiest part for most entrepreneurs, the most daunting part tends to be putting it into words.
Business planning is essential to any start-up business looking to get off the ground, it is the foundations the rest of your business will be built on.
Whether you’re applying for funding or finance, opening a business bank account or trying to monitor how you are growing, a business plan will help you keep on track.
Luckily, you won’t have to just draft this up from scratch. There are hundreds of templates out there, similar to CV templates, which you can tailor to your business.
Below are some key tips for perfecting your business plan once you have the template in place…
First thing’s first, master your executive summary. This is a summary of the entire plan and is usually contained at the start of the business plan.
It can also act as a key qualifier for time-pressed investors—if they like it, they will read on, if not they will go no further – think of it as a covering letter for your business.
The executive summary is often the last part to be written but is the first to be read.
If an investor has read your summary and likes what they have seen, now’s your chance to really impress them.
In plain English, with no jargon, explain the background to your business and what it is you would like to achieve.
A good idea would be to talk about how long you’ve spent developing the business, what motivated you to launch it and what experience you have in the industry.
Then, you can talk about your business, your product or service, describing what it is and why it is destined to be a success.
Possibly the most important part of any business plan after the executive summary is the market research section.
This is where you can highlight how large your market segment is and why you have the product/service to penetrate that market.
Also, don’t forget to identify the segments of the market you plan to target - for example, local customers or a particular age group – this will help people see who your ideal customer is.
Finally, identify the competing products currently on the market and who supplies them, listing the advantages and disadvantages of all your competitors and their products.
Sales and marketing
You’ve identified what your business does, who your target market is and what your competitors are offering, now to highlight how you’ll make it happen.
Outlining your sales and marketing strategy will help people see how your product or service will meet your customers’ specific needs.
The best way of doing this is to show how you will position your product, how you will sell it to customers and who your first customers will be.
As for the written business plan, last but not least, your financial forecasts will translate what you have already said about your business into numbers.
This is the one part of your business plan which really speaks volumes and will help people get on board with what you’re wanting to achieve.
It will outline all of your costs from day one and what you are projected to generate at the year-end.
It is also a good idea to highlight your financial requirements, how much money you have to start off with and how much you are looking to raise to grow the business. Also, don’t forget to mention how you’ll raise the money!
Presenting your plan
Finally, after all of this, you’ll be able to present your business plan. Keep it easy to read, don’t include jargon and make it tidy. Add a cover and a contents page to help people see what it is they’re reading and how to navigate it.
After all of this, you’ll be ready to grow!