Writing a business plan can seem a daunting challenge. However, this skill is a vital requirement for any entrepreneur or business seeking to increase their chances of survival. Your future business largely depends on the design and performance of your business plan. Its importance is vital and getting it right is crucial. Below is a list of top 5 tips for writing that winning business plan and convincing those that matter that your plan is one worth investing in.
Write from the audience’s perspective
The starting point for any business plan should be the perspective of the audience. What is the purpose of the plan? Is it to secure funding? Is it to communicate the future plans for the company? The writer should tailor the plan for different audiences, as they will each have very specific requirements. For example, a potential investor will seek clear explanations detailing the proposed return on their investment and timeframes for getting their money back.
Ensure all key areas are covered in the plan
Undertake research on what a business plan should contain. Include sections on the Company, Product/Service, Market, Competition, Management Team, Marketing, Operations and Financials. The plan should also take on board the readers’ various preferences for viewing data. While many plans are predominantly textual, the plan should include some simple colour charts and spreadsheets.
Attention to detail
Make the plan concise, but include enough detail to ensure the reader has sufficient information to make informed decisions. Given that the plan’s writer usually has a significant role to play in the running of the business, the plan should reflect a sense of professionalism, with no spelling mistakes, realistic assumptions, credible projections and accurate content. The writer should also consider the format of the plan. If a business plan presentation is required, a backup PowerPoint presentation should be created.
Focus on the opportunity
If you are seeking investment in your business, it is important to clearly describe the investment opportunity. Why would the investor be better off investing in your business rather than leaving money in a bank account, shares, or investing in another business? What is the Unique Selling Point for the business? Why will people part with their cash to buy from you? Money matters and getting funding for your business is an important aspect which cannot be ignored.
Arguably the most important component of the plan is the Executive Summary. This is a summary of the entire plan and is usually contained at the start of the plan. It also tends to act as a key qualifier for time-pressed investors—if they like it, they will read on, if not they will go no further. It should be completed at the very end of the business planning process and should have a wow factor that entices them to read further. Along with this, the writer should also prepare a five-minute overview of the key benefits of the new product/service.