If you are embarking on a new business venture, it is crucial to create a business plan first. Your plan tells you where your business is at and what steps you need to take to reach your end goal. It moves you from point A to point B depending on how each piece of the puzzle moves and can change at any time depending on how things are going.
According to harvard business review, developing a business plan increases your startup’s chances of success. Think of it as a plan filled with estimates, thoughts, and strategies to get you to your end goal: a successful business.
There is a lot that can be done in developing a business plan, but there are steps you can take to simplify the process. Rather than a comprehensive guide, this article aims to give you some tips on how to put together a plan for your new business so that the process isn’t so overwhelming. The more you prepare to create this document, the easier it will be.
If you want to learn how to write a business plan that helps you reach your goals, here are four tips to get you started.
1. Be concise.
There aren’t any concrete guidelines to follow when it comes to the length of your business plan, so the key here is to keep only the essential information. It should be in depth enough that lenders and investors take your ideas seriously, but not long enough that it is difficult to navigate. No one wants to read 100 pages of business text, so make it easier by keeping it short and to the point.
This is also a document that you will refer to throughout your efforts, so it shouldn’t be difficult to navigate through it. You will likely find yourself crossing things off and adding crucial points as time passes and changes occur within your business. So having a plan that is easy to digest will make your life much easier.
2. Determine your top priorities.
Depending on your top business priorities, these will affect every step of your plan. Knowing your priorities is crucial so that you can create a plan that revolves around those goals and focuses on achieving them.
Your business priorities are specific to you and what you aim to achieve, so when listing them, remember the goals you want to achieve. Are you trying to raise capital? Do you want to reach a certain number of customers by the end of the year? Consider the short and long term goals of your plan to keep your expectations realistic.
3. Write for your audience.
When most people think of a business plan, they imagine a long thesis filled with technical jargon. No matter who you write it for (investors, lenders, employees, etc.), it should be easy to consume. Your target audience should understand this, so avoid using too many industry specific keywords that might leave some people confused.
Keep in mind that you will refer to this document in the future as changes take place and you need to refine your strategy. A business plan rarely stays intact over time because unexpected changes can occur and you need to adjust accordingly. The easier it is to go through your plan to make sense of your next steps, the better. If you read it and decide it’s hard to digest, rewrite it until it’s as concise as possible.
Execute your shot through editing software to remove lint, filler language, and passive voice. The more solid the reading of your document, the more professional it will sound.
4. Save your claims.
It’s essential to create a realistic plan filled with specific numbers and estimates so you don’t wander in the dark later on. The more you generalize your business plan and round the amounts, the more you deviate from realistic expectations. It’s supposed to help you assess how your business is performing and what it will take to get there, so specificity is vital.
For every claim you make, back it up with an explanation of how it’s going to happen. If you can’t justify your claims in a written document, no investor will take you seriously. They need to see that you’ve done your research and know what to expect.
Refrain from over-projecting the profits as it does more harm than good. People will dispute your claims if they don’t seem feasible, and if you don’t have statistics or data to back them up, your audience won’t take you seriously. Use tables, charts and images to highlight your statistical points so that they are easy to digest and break up the monotony of the text.
It is your turn.
Developing a comprehensive business plan is not an easy task, but there are steps you can take to simplify the process. Remember who you are writing it for so that it is easy to understand. List your top priorities so that your plan will meet those goals and accomplish them within a set amount of time. For every point you make, back it up with evidence so whoever you propose to sees a realistic plan that will come to fruition. What are your tips for writing a solid business plan?