Writing a Winning Business Plan for a Business Case
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. Here is a list of my top ten tips for writing that winning plan:
1. Write from the audience’s perspective
Writing from the audience's perspective will engage them instantly. What is the purpose of the plan? Is it to secure funding? Is it to communicate the future plans for the company? Tailoring the business plan to your audience is important, but make sure you just have the one. The way you present should be tailored to the specific requirements for example, a potential investor will seek clear explanations detailing the proposed return on their investment and time frames for getting their money back.
2. Research the market thoroughly
Market research will not only validate your concept, but be a valuable source of information to save you time, effort and money. The entrepreneur should undertake market research and ensure that the plan includes reference to the market size, its predicted growth path and how they will gain access to this market.
A further valuable reason for doing your market research, especially when speaking to investors, is your ability to answer and repute concerns and doubts.
3. Understand the competition
Understanding the competition has two benefits, firstly knowing your competitors and what they do is going to be vital to establishing your niche and main differentiation, why would someone join you over the established brand? are you going to price too high or too low?
Secondly, you need to understand how competitive the industry and sector is, do you have enough to penetrate the market? how much investment are you making? Will what you have stand out? How will it impact the market?
4. Attention to detail
Make the plan concise and to the point, add enough detail but don't make it too long. You must remember that this plan is a snapshot of what your proposing, you don't need to add your blood type, favourite colour, first pet etc. 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, e.g., if a business plan presentation is required, a back-up PowerPoint presentation should be created.
5. 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 Proposition (USP) for the business? Why will people part with their cash to buy from you?
6. Ensure all key areas are covered in the plan
Undertake research on what a business plan should contain; for templates and advice get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org . Include sections on the Company, Product/Service, Market, Competition, Management Team, Marketing, Operations and Financials.
7. Do the sums
Everyone will have their own measures of how to calculate your financials. One good place to start is industry valuations data, these are readily available online. If you have a head for numbers, it can be a very concise way to get estimations for your valuation. Making use of free resources at your local library can also be vital. Most may not have financial expertise, we are not financial advisers but can certainly understand a financial spreadsheet. It is a vital part of an Entrepreneur and needs to be learnt regardless of love for it. Ensure you enlist the help of a financial adviser if this is not your forte, it could be the difference between investment and laughter. Costs should be documented in full and sales predictions should be both conservative and realistic. While costs are more certain and predictable, a crucial factor in the success or failure of the business will be the level of sales. Get in touch for financial forecasting spreadsheet templates and information about how/where to get data via email@example.com.
8. Executive Summary
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. In tandem with this, the writer should also prepare a short “elevator pitch,” a five-minute overview of the key benefits of the new product/service.
Keep this part to one paragraph, 3-5 lines at the absolute maximum.
9. Review process
Use your friends and family to initially review your work for consistency and clarity . Then pass it on to a professional. We would be happy to provide a review for you, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. Ensure you select someone with no sentimental attachment, friends and family at this stage are not advised. It is rare that you will come out of this stage without criticism or challenges. Getting in touch with your local government business adviser can also help evaluate and review.
10. Implement the plan
Finally, a plan should always be viewed as a living document and contain specifics regarding dates, deadlines and specific responsibilities. It should be constantly reviewed and updated, as well as being used in regular “plan versus actual” discussions. Business relies heavily on people taking actions and being accountable for them. A winning business plan will help to ensure that the business is fully focused on what is required to achieve the company’s goals.
Feel free to get in touch for templates, advice and recommendations via email@example.com.