How to Write a Killer Business Plan
Writing a business plan is a must for anyone who wants to grow their business, say entrepreneurs themselves. While such a plan doesn’t instantly guarantee you success, it helps evaluate the strong and weak points of your business, understands its position on a market and its competitiveness, and come up with strong, research-based strategies for growth and problem-solving.
We want to say right from the start that there’s no one optimal business plan template. In fact, even the size of a business plan and the level of depth one has to provide vary from one business to another, from one situation to another. However, if you are an owner of a startup currently seeking funding from investors, you might want to consider a more detailed and research-heavy business plan.
That said, will you be able to write such a plan if you are short of time? The answer is yes.
Here’s what you need to do in order to achieve that.
How to write a Killer Business Plan
- Identify a Problem and Offer a Solution.
This is a piece of general advice for everyone who wants to start their own business. Though problems aren’t exactly a thing many of us, entrepreneurs included, like to think about, in business they become opportunities. This is especially true for a competitive market.
What problem does your product or service solve? How is it different from other products or services designed to solve that same problem? You need to answer those questions in as much detail as you can and provide facts and statistics to support those answers.
First, doing so will help you understand the true value of your product or service and maybe even figure out how to market it better. Second, it will demonstrate to potential investors why your business could be a better investment than the ones that belong to your competitors.
- Learn More About Your Customers.
We’ve all heard about the importance of knowing your audience. Yet, some entrepreneurs still don’t know their customers as much as they need to. It’s important to demonstrate that you aren’t one of them, that you know your customers, and know what they want.
You can figure this out with the help of an email survey or even hold interviews with at least 10 of your customers, existing or potential. You can ask your existing customers for some feedback, and so on.
Try to understand how you can use this information to change or improve certain products or services and your business in general. Be sure to include both the information and your conclusions in a business plan.
- Set Clear and Specific Goals.
There probably aren’t many entrepreneurs who start their businesses with no intention of growing big. Most likely, your dreams and ambitions are big or even huge, and that’s great: this will give you the motivation to work hard. However, big dreams and ambitious goals might not be the best solution for a business plan.
Keep in mind: the investors want to see something more realistic, based on facts and solid figures. You have to plan for the next couple of years, not for the future in general, be precise and financially wise.
Indicate a budget that could cover all expenses while leaving some room for growth at the same time. Explain how you’re going to track the progress and measure the results. Do your best to demonstrate how exactly your business will make money.
- Write a Compelling Executive Summary.
An executive summary is a very important section of a business plan. It explains to the investors what your business does or plans on doing in the nearest future (if you are a startup owner).
We cannot overemphasize the importance of this section. If you fail to impress, the investors probably won’t continue reading your plan and make their decision at that point. At the same time, this is your chance to stand out among competitors by explaining how you plan to succeed by doing something they failed to do.
Most likely, you know that already: you’ve probably answered that question to yourself before starting a business. Now you just need to explain it so the others would understand and believe in your business just like you believe in it. Don’t forget to include the financial projections as well to let the investors know how much money do you want to raise.
- Create a Marketing Plan.
Any business needs a strong marketing strategy in order to succeed. And it’s always better to come up with one (and describe one) at that point to both impress the investors and figure this out for yourself.
Think about how you’re going to let people know about your business and how you’ll keep new customers coming. Make sure that your strategy is competitive yet its budget is still reasonable. Adding a marketing strategy to your business plan will make it look stronger and more mature.
- Include an Appendix if Necessary.
You don’t have to write one just for the sake of it. However, if you want to add more data (such as charts, additional calculations, reports, etc.), explain some terms or simply include something that you believe will make your business plan look more thought-out, definitely do so.
- Don’t Forget to Review.
If possible, put aside your business plan for a day (or a couple of hours at least) and review it after. This will help you spot the things you might want to change or elaborate, just as the points that you might have left out. You also have to proofread it to ensure that no typos or grammar errors will ruin the impression.
A strong business plan is vital for both attracting investors and growing your business. It helps you understand where your business is heading, how is it going to survive in the competitive market, and how you will grow it with time.
Therefore, even if you are short of time, make sure that you’ve researched everything you need or turn to any good professional for help. Also, don’t forget to review your business plan from time to time and to update it if necessary. Adjusting it when something changes will help you keep ahead of the competitors even during difficult times.
Furthermore, such a plan will help you understand the real value of your business and its strong sides. We hope that you’ll be able to write a strong and effective business plan with the help of our tips.
Did you use a business plan to grow your business? What tips on business plan writing could you give to our readers? Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.