Every business should have a written plan. Whether you need to provide direction or attract investors, a business plan is vital to your organization's success. But how do you write a business plan and what are the steps to follow exactly?
Research, research, research
"Research and analyze your product, your market and your objective expertise," wrote William Pirraglia, a former chief financial officer and manager. "Consider spending twice as much time studying, evaluating, and thinking than you actually spend writing a business plan.
To write the perfect plan, you need to know your company, your product, your competition and the market.
In other words, it is your responsibility to know everything you can about your business and the industry you are entering. Read everything you can about the industry and talk to those who will be "your customers".
Define the purpose of your plan
A business plan is a written document that describes the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, the financial background, and a projected profit and loss statement. However, your business plan can serve several different purposes.
For example, if you want to attract investors, your plan will have a different purpose and you will need to write a plan that targets them, so that it should be as clear and concise as possible. When defining your plan, make sure you also set those goals in person.
Create a company profile
Your company profile includes the history of your organization, what products or services you offer, your market, your target audience, your resources, how you will solve a problem, and what makes your business unique.
Company profiles are often found on the official website of the company and are used to attract potential customers. However, your profile can be used to describe your company in your business plan. It's not just an essential component of your business plan; is also one of the first written parts of the plan.
Document all aspects of your business
Investors want to make sure that your business will be profitable for them as well. Because of this expectation, investors want to know everything about your business. To help with this process, document everything from expenses, cash flow, and industry forecasts. Also, remember seemingly small details like your strategy and licensing agreements.
Create a strategic marketing plan
An excellent business plan will always include a strategic and 'aggressive' marketing plan. This usually involves achieving marketing objectives such as:
-Introduction of new products
-Expand or retake the market for existing products
- Entering new territories for the company
-Promoting sales in a particular product range, market or price.
Cross-selling (or merging) one product with another
- Entering into long-term contracts with desirable clients
-Price increase without decreasing in sales figures
-Refining a product
Make the plan adaptable based on your audience
Potential readers of a business plan are a diverse group, ranging from bankers and venture capitalists to employees. Although this is a diverse group, it is finite. And every type of reader has certain typical interests. If you know these interests in advance, you will certainly consider them when preparing a plan for that particular audience.
For example, bankers will be more interested in balance sheets and cash flow statements, while venture capitalists will look at the basic concept of the business and your management team.
Explain why you care
Whether you are sharing your plan with an investor, client or team member, your plan should show that you are passionate and committed, and actually care about your business. You can discuss the mistakes you have learned, list the problems you hope to solve, describe your values, and decide what sets you apart from competitors and other operators in the market.
Adapted from: Star Business