The business plan is nothing more than a guide or a roadmap, able to clearly outline a company’s objectives and detail the actions necessary to achieve them.
Why is the business plan essential for a company?
You may be wondering why you need a business plan. After all, you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, know the market, and have the necessary skills. So, what is it for?
There are many good reasons to write a business plan. Here are some of them below.
- To clarify your ideas:
- Writing something gives it structure and substance. Your ideas will be clearer on paper.
- To discover and resolve any critical issues:
- There may be flaws in the business idea you have in mind. This will become more evident when everything is put in black and white.
- To get feedback from other people:
- A well-written business plan can be shared with trusted people to get advice on the business you want to undertake. You can also get services from best business plan writers.
- To create a formal document:
- Banks, business angels, accountants, and lawyers will want proof that you take your business seriously. A business plan can be essential when it is necessary to involve other professionals.
- To guide you as your business grows:
- Even if your day-to-day activities become a distraction, a solid business plan will keep you on track and focused on your goals.
- To show it to probable investors.
How to structure a business plan: the 10 steps to follow
You may not know how to begin if you have never written a business plan. We have listed the ten steps to help you create a perfect business plan.
The executive summary
In this space, you will have to describe your company and the products/services it will sell. It must be short of capturing the attention of the people who will read it.
Write down the goal and mission of your business in a nutshell and effectively. Then, work on it as long as you need to make it memorable.
Consider this section as a presentation document. In this regard, it should be concise and easy to remember.
For more information you should contact our business plan consultants.
Who are your customers?
Do you have a clear idea of the type of people (or business, in the case of B2B) who will buy your product or service? If not, focus on outlining the characteristics of your buyer personas.
Any investor will ask this one of the initial questions about your business plan, so you must be prepared.
Find out if your potential customers will be end consumers or companies. Who will you target within the company if the latter is the answer? The seller or the CEO?
Determine if you will have regular and loyal customers or occasional buyers. Also, ensure you’ve talked to some of your prospects to fully understand their needs and requirements.
Evaluate your target
In this step, it is forbidden to jump and guess. You must correctly identify the people who will buy from you. So, focus on the following:
- demographic data, i.e., age, gender, and social status;
- filmography: this applies to B2B. Business data includes the size of the typical company, revenues, and services/products sold;
- position, therefore the specific area of the processing;
- Profession, if you address particular categories of workers;
- Shared interests and habits.
The better the evaluation of your target, the more complete your business plan will be.
What are your opportunities?
Successful companies think big. You could start from the bottom but must always plan for step-by-step growth. So, mark all possible opportunities for your business as it grows.
For example, suppose you intend to start selling online. In that case, you will need to understand how to get traffic to your website and think about a communication strategy useful for brand awareness and lead generation.
If the expected results arrive on schedule, what other opportunities could you have? Then, evaluate them in the business plan phase to fully comply with your growth plan.
Study the competition
Each company has its competitors. If you don’t study yours, investors will think you are unprofessional or naive. Furthermore, knowing the competition will help you understand how to position yourself in the market and communicate with your target.
Be thorough at this stage and list all your existing and potential competitors. Answer the following questions, obviously in writing:
- Who are your direct competitors, i.e., those who sell your products?
- On the other hand, who are indirect competitors, that is, those whose market overlaps yours?
- How will you prevent competitors from competing with you?
- What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? In other words, what is the differential element that makes you unique?
This last point, in particular, is very important. You must describe how your business will be distinct from all others. You can rely on price, service, quality, or value. It doesn’t matter what your USP will be, but be sure to specify it.
Create a financial plan
Any business plan should also contain financial information relating to the company. This should include all costs associated with establishing your business, such as:
- cost to make or purchase the products;
- labor and production costs, including raw materials;
- personnel costs, especially for service companies;
- distribution and marketing costs;
- fixed and variable overheads.
Good accounting software will help you create a financial model. At first, however, you can simply ask for help and advice from a good accountant.
Include an overall marketing plan
For this business plan section, you need to think about the five Ps of marketing.
- Price: how will you rate the final product?
- Positioning: how does your product/service fit into the market?
- Promotion: What channels will you use to attract and communicate with customers?
- Profit: How much do you expect to earn per item sold?
- Position: what are your points of sale or your range of action?
Plan your operations
For a moment, put your vision aside.
What must daily activities be carried out for the correct management of the company?
Include all business processes, such as manufacturing and packaging. Attempt to cover all departments, including customer service and sales.
This is one of the most important factors. First, you will need to understand whether to go alone or hire staff.
In the second case, you need to focus on finding people whose skills complement yours and getting them to work with/for you (remember your USP).
Also, think about what characteristics your business consultants will need to have. You will need people you can trust to guide and mentor you in your time of need.
Simplicity is the key
Go for simplicity. You or potential investors will not read complex and lengthy documents.
A business plan must be short, relevant, and to the point.
If you notice excessive transport while writing, stop and take a break. Then go back and edits what you wrote.
The core of a good business plan is contained in a few well-written pages.
Plan your business based on your strengths
As you draft your business plan, keep your strengths and areas for improvement in mind. This will help you build a plan that makes the most of your skills while remaining realistic.
Also, remember that the business plan is a roadmap for your business, but it’s not set in stone. So, review it at least once a year and make changes if necessary.
Most importantly, keep asking for official and unofficial feedback from your advisors. With their help, you will create the perfect business plan to get you exactly where you want to go.
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