If you’ve ever read a book by #Anita Roddick or #Richard Branson or numerous other entrepreneurs you may get the feeling that a business plan is not worth the paper it’s written on. If you are reading this blog I dare say you do not have the luck or resources of these great entrepreneurs and you may need a plan to keep you focussed and to convince others you business is worth supporting.
The only reason a business plan becomes worthless is when you don’t use it. It is moving, it’s dynamic, it changes as your business and your industry does. Your business plan is a document that ties all of your ideas and your plans together. It includes the four cornerstones of business success – You, Your USP, Your Target Market and Your Marketing Plan – with your financial forecasts and operating plan.
How much detail and information you need to include will depend on what you want your business plan to achieve and who the final audience is.
If you're starting a new business, your business plan can help give you confidence and as it will give you an idea of how viable your venture really is. If you’re looking for financing, your business plan will be the lender’s reassurance that your business is worth funding.
Many people I work with loath the thought if putting together a business plan – it seems like an overwhelming and unnecessary task, but even the most basic business plan can keep you on track and ensure you’re working on the business and not in it.
Here are 10 tips to develop a business plan:
- Start with a couple of points in each of these sections: Executive summary; Vision, mission, goals;Marketing; Financials; and Operations
- If you are a right brain thinker start with drawing a mind map. Add pictures and colour to your plan so you see it as a creative process
- Don’t worry about semantics and grammar at the start – brain dump your ideas and worry about the corrections later
- Write for an audience who does not have a clue about you or your product or service. Delete any industry acronyms.
- Keep the sales pitch to the executive summary and the marketing plan – your facts should do the selling
- Your executive summary and cash flow will be the first pages read by a potential funder – make sure there are no mistakes
- Go conservative rather than hopeful
- Back up your information with facts and references. Make sure you collect them as you go
- Don’t include information that is not relevant – no matter how interesting
- Just start – doesn’t matter where – start in the middle on the topics that you love such as marketing or promotions.
If you don’t have a plan – how serious are you about your business anyway?