A business plan is a vital tool for any business or startup, especially when it comes to matters of funding. Investors want a business plan that will wow them, something to show them that a startup is surely headed somewhere, or a business is really trying to reach the next level of its operations. A business plan, therefore, serves as a roadmap for your business. Well written business plans, therefore, tell the business what to be doing at a particular time; whether they are headed in the right direction or not. But how? A business plan normally outlines the business’ goals and the strategies to achieve the goals. It is therefore easy to tell when the business is on track and off track.
Most business experts will advise on writing up short-and-sweet business plans. However, there is no one-size-fits-all business plan. Each business has different plans and different ways of achieving them. This applies to their business plans as well. Some businesses will comfortably do with a one-page business plan that will fully meet its needs. However, a more detailed business plan may be required especially for startups who are seeking funding from investors.
That aside; whether you decide on coming up with a one-page document or a 20-page business plan, there are vital elements that your document needs to be a killer business plan. After all, it’s not a document to tell stories or just for the show. As an investor, you wouldn’t invest your funds in a visionless business, would you? A detailed and quality business plan is, therefore, the gateway to profitability for any business.
Below are tips for building a killer business plan. We’ve laid them out as 7 step process which can be done in a period of seven days.
Day 1: Identify a Problem in the Market and Provide a Solution
In any market, it’s always advisable to spot a problem that’s causing the customer pain. In business, problems are opportunities. Keep that in mind. So, the best business plans spot a distressing issue in the market and go on to present solid strategies for solving it. Potential investors and customers are eager to listen to problem-solving strategies, especially where other businesses may have failed. For a competitive market, come up with strategies that will solve problems better than the existing players. For such a market, the strategies have to be cost-effective to have an edge on your competitors.
Day 2: Understand Your Customers Well
The question of whether you can serve your customers well lies in whether you know them in the first place. A successful business plan is one that demonstrates a deep insight into their customers. Mind you; this is usually the separator between successful and unsuccessful business plans. The business plans that flop are those that do not simply understand their customers.
Understanding your customers is, therefore, a critical step, even before moving on to more technical elements of the business plan. In a bid to understand the customers and their needs, listen to their ideas and keep yours aside for a moment. Get to know what they consider as their ideal product and why they prefer it over other products.
Occasionally, hold interviews with at least 10 potential customers. The analysis of these customers is more useful when included in the business plan. Emphasize the points from the customers in the plan, which will ultimately help make conclusions about your product or idea in the case of a startup.
Ultimately, speaking often with your potential customers will become your strength. Listen well, open your eyes wide and gain an insight into your product.
Day 3: Make it Clear and Be Specific
We are always encouraged to dream big. It is acceptable. However, it’s better to be realistic in matters of business. Don’t be swallowed by fantasy. Keep your business ideas and visions rooted in reality. Estimate your possible market size by looking at the market competitors and economic reports.
Build your plan around solid figures and facts, not mere illusions. It may sound harsh now, but it will save you and your business a big deal. It is better to be realistic now rather than blow your savings on a bogus idea. Create a financial plan which the potential investors will fall in love with. Indicate a budget for your business which will cater for all its expenses, not forgetting to leave room for growth. Show the investors how your idea and plan will make money. Most importantly, make your projections traceable for easy referencing in the future. In fact, more than 60% of businesses with business plans have registered general growth.
Day 4: Bring Out a Compelling Executive Summary
This is the section of the business plan that clearly describes what the business does or what it plans on doing in the case of a startup. Do not write a shoddy executive. This is your “make or break” point. If your potential investors are not impressed with it, they will basically stop reading the business plan. It is at this point when you need to give the investors a reason as to why your business is unique. They want to know how you are going to do what others have failed to do in the market. This is where you step up and give them the confidence that your business will do well.
Keep your reasons short and precise. Summarize your executive summary in one page at most. Remember to indicate your financial projections in the executive summary. This helps the potential investors know exactly how much money you want to raise for your business.
Day 5: Outline a Marketing Plan
Once your business kickstarts, what will keep it running is your marketing strategy. In this case, you may think of marketing as the food on which your business will feed on. Thorough marketing will, therefore, give your business an edge in this ever competitive market. Go hard on your social media platforms. Make your business known by as many people as possible. Be aggressive in your marketing strategy. Remember that digital marketing is the strongest pillar a business can lean in today’s market.
When presenting this to the potential investors, present a competitive yet reasonable pricing strategy. Once your sales, pricing and advertisement strategies are rolled out, you can rest assured that your potential sponsors will listen more to your business plan.
Day 6: Provide an Appendix as the Support System
The appendix acts as the backup for the rest of the business plan. It says whatever is not included in the business plan. This part could also include the financial projections for the business. It is however not mandatory, but it simplifies the whole business plan.
Day 7: Review Your Plan
After going through all these nice steps to write your plan, go through it. Review your plan to see if there are any points that you might have left out, and also to proofread to make sure that there are no typos or grammar errors. You could have the best business plan out there, but such small errors could damage your chances of selling your idea.
A good business plan should not be rigid. This means that it is bound to change as the business grows. Achievement of goals is a dream come true. Not to mean that you are doomed if you miss them. This gives you a chance to amend your business plan. Update your business plan occasionally, preferably every three months. At all times, ensure that your business plan answers the question: “Why is your business special and how will it be profitable?”
So, do you think that you can write a killer business plan in seven days?
Author’s Bio: Charles is a career mentor, content writer for custom-writings.net, motivational speaker & human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in HR sector. Apart from career mentoring, he loves photography and football. Find him on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook & Google+.