How To Write a Business Plan That Wows
If you’re planning a new business, or pivoting an old one, you need a decent business plan. Not only does a good plan keep you focussed, but it’s crucial if you want to secure investment.
Creating a solid business plan doesn’t need to be difficult, tackling it methodically and systematically will make sure that you cover off everything essential.
We’ve laid it all out in our guide for you.
Our outline for creating an outstanding business plan:
Step 1 – The executive summary:
Begin by laying out exactly what your business is about. This should be a brief and well written outline of your full business plan with a brief synopsis of what’s to follow in more detail.
If writing isn’t part of your skill set, then we would recommend you get someone else to create it for you. The executive summary is your chance to wow the reader or woo an investor.
On average we’d recommend keeping this part of the business plan to less than two pages. You don’t want to go into any of the minutiae details here.
Step 2 – Background:
If you’ve already got a business, then here is where you detail when it was set up and why. If you’re looking to scale or pivot, you should explain your niche, your reason for being and how your business fits it. You should detail how your operations currently work, and what the current stage of development is.
If you’ve got any existing strategic relationships, then include them in here too.
And, if you’ve got a business mission statement, use it as your headline.
Step 3 – Service provided:
You need to go into more detail here about what it is you sell. Is it products or services? B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer)? What specifically are you offering?
If you sell products, do you manufacture them yourself or distribute?
If you’re manufacturing, detail your process, availability of raw materials and how you create.
Providing a service? Then describe exactly what it is.
You can also use this section to talk about any future plans to expand the range of what you sell. Make sure the reader has all the information.
Step 4 – Marketing, breakdown and strategy:
This is a full section with lots of components that we’ll list here for you. There’s no way to skip this, you need to know the landscape your business will sit in and how to navigate it successfully.
Invest your time in completing this fully, it will probably be the lengthiest piece of work you do for the business plan. Use it as a showcase for how your business will be successful.
- Market analysis. Use the tools available to you to map out the landscape. Who are your competitors, and how are you better / different?
- Market research. Who is your target market and why will they choose your product or service? What problem are you solving for them?
- Marketing strategy. How are you planning to build awareness? Do you have a plan to introduce yourself to the market and your customers? How are you going to package up what you are selling to make it compelling?
Step 5 – Business operations:
This is the part that investors will be particularly interested in. It’s a detailed breakdown of the day to day running of your business; the real nuts and bolts of how it all happens.
Create a clear line between production and sales and put in measurable indicators, for example how many visitors will you get to your website, when will you first release your product, what are your sales forecasts?
Step 6 – Management breakdown:
It’s optional, but not one to be missed out, especially if you’re in need of funding. Include details of the executives you have on board and how will they help you achieve your goals and what they bring to your business.
You’ll need to provide a clear picture of all the key roles necessary to make your business a success and how you propose to fill them. Define the roles and what is needed.
If you’re using this as an internal document for an existing business, it’s a good way to keep managers on track and provide guidance around how they need to nurture their staff to meet future objectives.
Step 7 – Proposal:
Spell out your requirements plainly in this section. Your business plan has been built to this point, now you need to state exactly what is needed to succeed.
Don’t forget to include the the benefits that your proposal offers.
Step 8 – Financial risks:
It’s time to quantitatively justify the business plan so do complete this section last. The key components to add are:
- Profit and loss statement
- Balance sheet
- Cash flow forecast for the next three years
Make sure you include a subjection that evaluates any risks you’ve highlighted.
Step 9 – Legal information:
Some industries are highly regulated. If you’re business is one of these then you may have to include legal disclaimers or any permits needed.
Keep everything that has to do with the law in a dedicated section, most commonly near the end.
Make sure that your plan flows well, and as we said before, if any of this isn’t your strong suit then get help to make sure you’re at your best advantage. Business plans aren’t just for start-ups, they’re a great way to keep your business on track. Keep the details measurable and adjust each year as necessary.