Writing a business plan can be a lot of hard work, but not doing it will most likely have serious implications on the future and success of your business. Not every business or company needs a 100 pages long business plan. However, every company needs a plan that focuses on the main idea, the place the company wants to be in and its definitions and scales for success.
This post will shortly introduce the main and basic factors you must consider while writing a business plan.
The first step of every plan should be analyzing the business environment. That being said, start from looking at the competition, compare your service/product to theirs, try to understand where your product/service is unique? Leading (price and/or quality)? The main idea should be that people have only so much money available for this type of products/services, so the first crucial task you should ask yourself is: what is my competition and how can I beat them? The more accurate the answer is, the more chances there are to have actual competitive business strategy and more creative tactics.
Next, you have to analyze and understand more environment factors such as: target customers, the economy, customer behavior, conditions that could change the market (natural disasters, wars, political instability, new taxes and regulations, etc.). After getting all these answers, you’d have to decide whether their influence is in your favor or not.
Now, that you know and understand your environment (at least better than you did before) it is time to describe what it is you’re selling. Whether it’s a product or a service, this section is one of the most important parts in your business plan. Most of the marketing efforts should be diverted to this part. A few pointers that you should keep in mind while doing it are: first, it is very important you describe whatever it is your selling from the customer’s point of view (you already know why it’s good), try to entail all the best qualities and advantages of your product. That being said, don’t push it! Tell only the true facts! Explain all the technical specifications, patent (if relevant), the production process and it’s a good place to show off your brand new web site (haven’t got one yet? That’s a big No No).
After finishing the environment analysis, you should think about a strategic plan for marketing and sales. This section must explain your marketing strategy and its operationalization. Many professionals recommend starting with a “Marketing Mix”, which is a business tool consistent of 4 basic ingredients: product, price, promotion and place. This should give you a heads up on the next step: translating these into a detailed plan of actions with clear mile stones.
Another crucial element of any business plan is the “funding and financing” section. This is the place to explain how you are going to turn that miracle you’ve described earlier into reality. How much money is needed? What do you expect the profits to be? Are there any strategic partners? Investors? Your own capital?
Finally, no business plan is of any value without introducing the business team or person behind this operation. This is a good place to emphasize all your accomplishments and successes.
Suggestion for a Business Plan Structure
- One pager
- Executive Summary (2-3 pages)
- Business Environment analysis (SWOT, Competition, Market, etc.)
- The Product/Service
- Strategic Plan (Sales and Marketing)
- Financial Plan
- The Team