Regardless of where your business is in its journey, a solid business plan is one of the most important tools that you can have at your disposal.
Offering clear insight into what the business does now and what it hopes to achieve, it’s your road map for business success.
But when it comes to writing or updating that plan, where do you start? Here are 25 business plan writing tips to assist.
Use a template
When it comes to writing a business plan, you don’t have to recreate the wheel. There are plenty of excellent tools to assist, including templates to help you get started.
Although all business plans will be different, a good template offers the strong foundations that you can build upon.
Tap into other successful plans
If you’re not sure where to start or what a good business plan looks like, seek a little inspiration from others.
A simple search of the internet will reveal a number of successful business plans that you can tap into to gain an insight into what’s required.
Complete all information
A lot of basic information goes into a comprehensive business plan, and it’s important that all of it is completed.
Missing data or incomplete sections mean your plan fails to create a complete picture of your business and what it hopes to achieve.
Although it can be time-consuming, take the time to fill in all the information required.
On that note, it pays to be realistic and appreciate that writing a business plan takes time. Set time in your schedule to think about your plan, write it, then refine it.
It’s best if this is a period of uninterrupted time where you can completely focus.
Break it down
It’s unrealistic to think you can write your business plan in one single sitting. Instead, break it down into small bite-sized sections that you can complete.
Ultimately, this allows your plan to come together over a period of time and also allows the required time for intensive aspects like market research and goal setting.
Start with what you know
As you get your plan under way, start by filling in the information that you know or can easily access. This might include the business structure, its name, or its current financials.
Do your research
Research is a key component of any successful business plan and encompasses things like:
- Your ideal customer
- Your competitors
- Your market
- Your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
Make sure you set aside enough time to do this research, and do it well. Research is the area where you will determine any obstacles for your business, along with its opportunities.
Document your claims
If you’re making a claim in your business plan, such as market size or customer demographics, be sure to document where this information came from.
Things can change over time, and if you’re reaching out to partners or investors as part of your plan, they will need to know this information is current and reliable.
Consider the perspective of others
On that subject, bear in mind, a business plan is not just for you. It should also factor in the perspective of others, including possible partners and investors, your staff, and your all-important business customer or user.
As you’re writing, consider what’s in it for them and why they should care.
Know your customer
In a similar vein, a key element of your business plan is defining your customer. Take time on this section, research who that ideal customer is, understand their needs, wants, where you might find them, how you will reach them, and why your offering is of value to them.
Test the market
As part of defining and getting to know your ideal customer, test the market. Reach out to people who are likely to be your typical customer and seek their feedback about what they want and how a business like yours could assist.
Be clear on the financials
Regardless of whether you are funding the business or you are attempting to attract investors, clear financial statements of where the business is now and what’s required to take it to the next level are essential.
This can be a tricky section to complete, so seek assistance to get crystal clear on the numbers of your business, if needed.
Make sound projections
Much of a business plan involves forecasting what’s likely to happen if the plan comes to fruition. When it comes to projections about finances, marketing and market share, ensure they are attainable and realistic.
Set clear goals
A major part of any business plan is goal setting. Ensure these goals are clear and well thought out. Goals are the steps that propel your business forward, and you will be measuring your success against these milestones.
Make it SMART
When it comes to goal setting, all goals need to be SMART, as in specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
Know your competition
While your business plan is all about your enterprise, it also has one watchful eye on the competition in the marketplace. Take the time to do all research required about your competitors, including who they are, what they offer, their weakness, and how you are different.
Understand your strengths
Every business and business operator should have specific strengths. These need to be clearly outlined in your plan as they are the basis of the business advantage your plan should be seeking to capitalise on.
Outline your weaknesses
While strengths are important, don’t overlook your weaknesses. Include them in your plan along with how you will overcome them. When you document your weaknesses you can address them and help protect your business against potential threats.
Use simple language
A business plan is not the place for overly complex language or jargon. It should be written in a clear and simple language that can be understood by others.
Keep it succinct
On that note, keep your plan succinct. While a lot of thought goes into creating a business plan, it should not be overly wordy or cumbersome to read.
If it is, you run the risk of it becoming overwhelming and irrelevant.
Have someone else read it
To ensure your business plan ticks all the right boxes, includes all relevant information and is clear, have someone else read it. This might be someone else within your business, a business coach, or another expert who can help provide feedback.
Keep it updated
Once your plan is created, keep it updated. You should revisit your plan at least once a year, so it can evolve alongside your business.
Refer to it often
A business plan is not a document that should gather dust on a shelf. It’s a tool to help keep your enterprise on track. As such, it should be referred to often
Share it with your team
If you’re the only person who knows what the future potentially holds for your business, how can your staff help you get where you want to go?
Share the relevant sections of your plan with your team, such as your vision, your mission, your goals and the actions they need to take to achieve those aims.
Get help when you need it
Finally, writing a business plan takes time and effort. It often requires a little honing and revision to ensure it becomes the essential tool your business can rely on moving forward.
Planning to Succeed in Business (with Business Plan Template)
As a Business Strategist planning is the foundation to both my and my clients success.
There’s an old saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, and this is certainly the case when it comes to business. Too often business owners believe their product or service will do the talking and fail to properly plan to achieve their goals.
Whether it’s planning for expansion, planning to start your own business, planning for succession, or planning for sale, a good business plan means planning for success and here are the critical tips for attaining it.
In this ebook we will explore what goes in a business plan and the template you can use to create yours.
Talk Strategy with Clive
With more than 30 years’ experience in mentoring small to medium-sized businesses around Australia. Clive works with company owners and their teams to grow their business and achieve goals through strategic coaching.