How To Create a Business Plan

How To Write A Business Plan In 14 Really Simple Steps

Starting a business is not as easy as it sounds. It takes tons of research, planning, and capital. Before starting a business, an individual needs to keep in mind a list of things they need to focus on. Capital and research are some of the most important parts of starting a business, but so is planning. You need to write a business plan to use as a guide for your small business.

Many startups have the ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it’ attitude, which leads their business to crumble in the early stages. Having and working from a business plan is more than beneficial. It’s a must and is just as important as accumulating capital.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

If you need to write a business plan for your business, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 14 easy steps to help guide you:

1. Make Sure You’ve Done Your Research
2. Create a Profile
3. The Executive Summary
4. Tell Them Why You’re Here
5. Describe Your Business Model
6. Describe Your Product
7. Have a Detailed Market Analysis
8. Know Who You Are Selling to
9. Keep a Look Out for Your Competitors
10. Have a Clear Financial Plan
11. Don’t Forget the People Around You
12. Don’t Miss Anything
13. Make Sure It’s for Everyone
14. Give Them Your Purpose

Let’s look at these steps in a little more detail.

How To Write A Business Plan For A Small Business

When you create a business plan for your business, try to keep a few things in mind.

  • What should the length of your plan be?
  • Why are you writing it?
  • Make sure your goals and objectives are clear to you
  • Outline your financial needs
  • Highlight your marketing strategies
  • What are you planning to do with your plan?
  • Try to keep it focused and to the point

1. Make Sure You’ve Done Your Research

Research is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind when writing a business plan. Your research needs to not only be thorough but extremely accurate, too.

Take more time to research your plan than you do to write your plan.

This should signify how important your research actually is.

Research your product, the market, the customer and your competitors. Make sure you know what your customer wants and how much they are willing to pay for it. Always be up to date with what your competitors are offering and how they are marketing it.

It is absolutely your utmost responsibility to be aware of the market or the industry you’re entering. Your research will later reflect on your business plan. If it’s wrong or inaccurate, it won’t look good to your investors and/or stakeholders.

If your research is thorough and reliable, it will make a good impression on your stakeholders. This gives you credibility and shows how serious you are about your work.

2. Create a Profile

The next step would be to create a profile. This will include the name of your organization, the products, and services that you offer and the history of your business.

This will also include your audience and the market you’re targeting. Let the audience know the purpose of your organization and how you stand out from all your other competitors.

Make sure to tell them something unique about your business and why your business is special or even better than the rest.

This profile will most probably be available on your website. Some of it can also be in your ‘About Us’ section, so your audience has easy access if they want to learn more about you. This will make it easier to attract potential stakeholders and customers.

They don’t have to contact you every time they want to learn something about you; your profile will do it for you.

3. The Executive Summary

This should very clearly state what you and your business are all about. This is essentially a one-liner that can make or break your pitch. If you want people to be interested in your product or service, make sure this is a hit. It doesn’t have to be anything over the top or flashy, but it has to be genuine.

Let your readers know what you stand for and how you’re willing to make a difference.

You write the Executive Summary last; after you’ve completed your whole business plan. The chances of you leaving something out will be significantly reduced at this stage.

4. Tell Them Why You’re Here

One of the most important parts of a business plan is definitely engaging with your audience. It’s important to engage with your audience in a way that makes them feel like they’re special and evokes emotion.

State the problem and describe your solution.

One of the ways you can make your intentions clear is by stating the problem and giving a solution. Let your audience know that you are invested and are willing to make a change.

This gives you an edge. Every successful product or service is a solution to a problem. If you don’t clearly communicate what your solution is, your target audience won’t have as much confidence in your plan.

5. Describe Your Business Model

The business model describes how you do what you do. It will include all your marketing objectives and what you aim to achieve with your business. Make sure you have a strategic marketing plan in place which answers all the potential questions your stakeholders might have.

Workflow

This model can include questions like:

  • Information about launching new products (if any)
  • New marketing and advertisement schemes for existing products
  • Expanding the business
  • Increasing sales
  • Raising prices and how will that affect sales
  • Whether your business has a marketing strategy
  • What you are doing to increase the quality of your product and delivery

Make sure your business model is extensive and covers all the topics and questions that your stakeholders might have. It is better to cover all bases even if those questions are rarely asked. Better safe than sorry.

Your marketing objectives and goals should be clearly mentioned in this business model so your investors and stakeholders are aware of where you’re planning to take your business.

Read also: Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Creating a New Business Model

6. Describe Your Product

Since your product is what you’re trying to sell, describe it in detail. Try making a separate section for your product or service overview. Mention all the essentials – what exactly your product is and how it is different than everything else in the market.

If it isn’t different, then why it is better than anything that consumers can already purchase elsewhere?

One of the ways you can easily describe your product is by using infographics. If you don’t already know, infographics are a great way to describe your product. They are essentially visual representations which include graphs, icons, and pictures. They can help make your product overview more interesting.

This is just one of the ways to keep your customers interested. Make sure that when you write a business plan, you use creative ways to market your product.

7. Have a Detailed Market Analysis

Your in-depth market analysis will include:

  • Industry description
  • Target demographic
  • Market share potential
  • Market pricing
  • Potential barriers

Read also: How To Develop A Market Positioning Strategy

8. Know Who You Are Selling to

One of the most important things to keep in mind is your target market. Make sure you know who you are selling to. Include any information you can about your target prospect. What they are, what they do, what they like and dislike. The more detailed your target, the more likely you are to market to them effectively.

Don’t forget to mention the age, gender, and income level that you are focusing on. You can also mention geographic regions and other demographics.

9. Keep a Look Out for Your Competitors

Every company has some other company that they are competing with – either directly or indirectly.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you aren’t competing with anyone.

You are, and you need to be careful about this.

Make sure you are up to date with what your competitors are putting out in the market and how they are advertising it. Not only will this make you look professional and show potential investors that you’ve done your research, but it will also help you in the long run.

10. Have a Clear Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include:

  • Cash flow statements
  • Income statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Accounts payable statements
  • Accounts receivable payments
  • Projected income statements
  • Budget
  • Cash flow forecasts

Read also: How To Create A Cash Flow Forecast That Will Make Your CPA Proud and How To Actually Understand And Improve Your Financial Ratios

11. Don’t Forget the People Around You

A business cannot be run by just one person. It’s a team effort, and you need to recognize that. Mention what you do and what exactly every member on your team does. Recognize their hard work as this will only encourage them to work harder.

How To Write A Business Plan

12. Don’t Miss Anything

You might think that after doing so much research, that this won’t happen to you, but there is a huge chance that it just might. Your business plan should include as many details as possible. Besides your marketing objectives and strategies, your business plan should extensively mention your possible cash flow options, your expenses and how you are planning to make money.

13. Make Sure It’s for Everyone

One of the most important things that your business plan should be is adaptable. You are not aware of where or what your stakeholders are going to be like. Make sure not to use excessive jargon that might further confuse the reader.

Your stakeholders might be bankers or venture capitalists. In this case, not only should your plan be something that they can understand, but you also have to make sure that you add something interesting for all of them.  Your plan needs to cover all bases so it can be adaptable for all kinds of audiences.

14. Give Them Your Purpose

Anyone who starts a business has a purpose. Now it’s finally time to let other people know about this purpose. You’re passionate about your work, and you put all this hard work into it. Make sure to let your investors and stakeholders know that.

It’s important to explain why you care, why you chose this exact business, why you want to work on this and how you will help in making it better.

Define your purpose. Why do you do what you do?

All the technical jargon is really important, but so is your passion. Your stakeholders need to know why you care and how it’s going to translate into your work. Let them know why you want to do this and what you’re setting out to learn and accomplish.

If you have previous experience in a similar line of work, you can talk about what you have learned and what your mistakes have taught you. You should also mention how you are going to work on your mistakes this time around.

This is a great way to form an emotional bond with your stakeholders and even your customers. Along with this bond, your passion can also make you stand out amongst all your competitors since it will show the customer that you care.

When you write a business plan, remember that it will be your road-map.

Conclusion

Don’t over-complicate it. Your plan should include all aspects of your business but needs to be concise as well. While you may use it to court investors and bankers, it’s most important use is to you.

Kevin A. Nye

A veteran of multiple industries, Kevin A. Nye has parlayed more than 20 years of management and leadership experience into a consultancy designed specifically for the benefit of small businesses. Having served in roles in Supply Chain, Operations and Regional management, Mr. Nye was most recently the Chief Operating Officer of a regional steel company and is currently focusing his expertise to help small business owners create the organizational foundation required to grow their enterprise.

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