Whether you’re a business owner or thinking about setting up a business, a business plan is an essential part of what it takes to become successful. Basically, a business plan is a document that explains the past, present and future of your business right down to showing what, when and how you plan on doing it.
This written description of the potential future to your business is an important piece of work for any business. Even if you’ve written it down on scrap piece of paper it’s still a plan or at least the start of one, we would hope you’d want to put a little more effort into it though.
There are some unwritten rules about what someone would expect to see in a plan and although all will differ slightly anyone wanting to see your plan will generally expect it include certain things and be presented well. These include things such as:
- What You Provide
It’s important to clearly show what your business provides and how it competitively compares on the market. So this allows you to explain your products or services and provide good solid information about how they are expected to perform compared to the competitors. Why will customers choose you?
- The Basic Concept
Every business plan should include the basic discussion about the industry, your structure, your products and services and how you are going to become successful.
What are your goals and how are you going to reach them?
This is a very important one as you may be producing a business plan in order to gain influencers, partners and investors so being able to provide current and projected financial statements make for a strong business plan.
- Your Team
It’s a good idea to speak about your team, key employees and the management you have to lead them, including yourself. For anyone looking at a business plan or for when you refer to it, it’s a good idea to be able to see where everyone sits and the vital roles that they play. It’s important to only include key information about any employees that are relevant to the business project at hand and don’t go into too much detail.
- Your Target Market
Once you have the initial layout to your plan you can have a think about your marketing plan, another key feature in any successful business. Who are your customers? How are you going to reach them? What’s your demographic? Once you’ve got them how will you retain them? It’s a good idea to build a solid marketing plan, try looking into resources such as social media to market your products or services. Where you’re thinking about your marketing check out this link for some useful information elitelawyermanagement.com.
Make sure that when you are putting together your business plan that you only ever stick to facts and figures and realistic projections not just your hopes and dreams for where you would like to be. It’s not going to do you any favours to exaggerate or manipulate figures. You want to make sure that your plan has credibility in order to be a success.
When Is the Ideal Time to Write a Business Plan?
You may just be starting out or already on your way to making your first million, regardless having a business plan is a wise decision to make. It should be something that is a top priority and is renewed on a regular basis. But, if you’re still not sure if it’s time to write your business plan have a look these indications that it’s a good time to start writing:
- Having a business plan with everything clearly laid out is a brilliant way of figuring out if it will actually work it has already started. If you’re looking for that moment where you discover if you could have the potential to make a profit then your business plan will certainly give you that information, as long you are honest.
- A good plan will help you to identify any flaws and it may highlight any serious competition you could face or any financial problems that could occur, this is brilliant for discovering if you will need investment into your business to get it where it needs to be.
- As businesses often face changes it means that a plan becomes a necessity rather than an option. If the market you are sinking your product or services into sudden changes, decreases in sales occur, a new competitor arises, your business grows or shrinks dramatically or there is a disaster in the economic climate you will be glad that you had a detailed business plan that you can revise and amend accordingly rather than blindly trying to ride it out.
- A business plan is a viable and easy way to highlight the value of any business which, if you’re looking to purchase or sell any business comes in handy. In fact, you would probably struggle to sell without a solid plan in place.
- If you’re going to be seeking any sort of financing and investment into your business you will significantly improve your chances by having a business plan in place. It’s considered to be the backbone to any financial proposal and you will rarely see financers, bankers or venture capitalists part with funds unless they have seen a good solid, successful plan. Even if family and friends are investing it’s just polite to show them what you are going to set out to do with the investment.
How Long Should Your Plan Be?
Long answer short is that there is no set length that your business plan is expected to be. However, it has become known that the average plan consists of 15 to 25 pages so aiming for this will give you an indication of somewhere to begin. If you’re a smaller business 5 to 10 pages is considered more than enough. Often bigger businesses will have several mini-plans for different sectors of their business. Remember if your plan as long you are able to narrow it down to the key point for any presentations.
Do you have any other top tips to consider when writing a business plan? Please share them in the comments section below.