Going through the process of writing a well-thought-out business plan for your small business when starting up is one of the most important things that you can do. Unfortunately, many small business owners find this process to be difficult and confusing.
Writing a business plan essential for the success of any business. A business plan provides direction, keeps you on track and is usually a requirement when you start seeking business grants or loans for your business.
In this post, we will be going through some basic tips to be considered when writing your business plan;
1. Do your research.
Google everything you can find about your business. Most importantly before starting a new business, you need to have good insights and experience in the venture you’ve decided to go into. You will need to make quite a few decisions about your business including structure, marketing strategies, and finances before you can complete your plan. By having the right information to hand you also can be more accurate in your forecasts and analysis.
2. Determine how long should the plan be.
Keep it short. Always remember that your business plan is to be read and reviewed by busy business people and a long business plan can really get boring to digest. The average length of most business plans is shorter now than it used to be. You can probably cover everything you need to convey in 15 to 20 pages of text plus another 5 pages of appendices for monthly projections, management resumes, and other details. If you’ve got a plan that’s more than 25 pages long, you’re probably not summarising very well.
3. Determine who the plan is for.
Does it have more than one purpose? Will it be used internally or will third parties be involved? Deciding the purpose of the plan can help you target your answers. If third parties are involved, what are they interested in? Although don’t assume they are just interested in the finance part of your business. They will be looking for the whole package.
4. Create a Business Model Canvas.
The canvas is a concept of describing a business in a general and condensed manner. It will give you the chance to display the basic outline of your business. The entire key areas of business can be described in the form of a diagram with short notes. Business Model Canvas comprises nine business model building blocks which include Key Partners, Key Activities, Key Resources, Value Propositions, Customer Relationships, Channels, Customer Segments, Cost Structure, and Revenue Streams. Download template here.
5. Be familiar with your numbers.
It’s a numbers game. For a new venture, it is very easy to over-estimate your figures. Existing businesses can include actual figures in the plan, but if your business is just starting out and you are using expected figures for turnover and finances you will need to clearly show that these are expected figures or estimates. The financial aspect of a business plan seems to be the most complicated aspect but it’s OK to seek the help of a financial expert to help at this stage so a to ensure you are working with realistic figures.
6. Write your summary last.
Use as few words as possible. You want to get to the point but not overlook important facts. This is also your opportunity to sell yourself. But don’t overdo it. You want prospective banks, investors, partners or wholesalers to be able to quickly read your plan, find it realistic and be motivated by what they read.
7. Review. Review. Review
Have others review your business plan. Don’t ask your friends and family to review it! Look out for people who are leading pioneers or experts in this field, also known as Mentors. Reach out and hand them your business plan. With the help of mentors, you could get helpful advice and make improvements or changes to your plan. They are a source of great assistance because their experience and knowledge could prevent you from making mistakes. This minimizes risk and increases your chances of being successful.