There is a general misconception that business plans are so complex and comprehensive thus, they should only be written by technical writers. Well, that is a myth. Business plans are drafted from an original idea of an entrepreneur. With a proper guide, such an entrepreneur can create a business plan to source funds.
It is imperative to point out that drafting a document such as this necessitates the need for dedication, deep thinking, grammatical, research, and analytical skills.
Whether you possess these skills or not, be rest assured that this piece will become extremely valuable to you.
Key Things to Consider Before Writing a Business Plan
Writing a business plan can be a very demanding exercise. Thus, it will be sensible to consider certain factors before venturing into writing a business plan.
Time or Money
The reality of writing a tedious document such as a business plan is that it requires a lot of time and energy that would be put into research. Part of what forms a solid foundation for a business plan is proper research. It’s a well-known fact that efficient research takes time.
If you are a very busy person and would not have the time, no problem. It would be logical to pay someone to either write the business plan as a whole or carry out research to get the data that would be necessary to complete the important parts of the document. You can hire someone to do this for you locally or visit reliable freelance platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork to get a freelancer.
The chances are high that you are reading this intending to write your business plan. Great! This article will guide you from start to finish.
Style of Writing
A business plan can be in a Traditional Format or a Lean Format. The traditional business plan is usually longer thus requiring more time and dedication. The lean business plan is usually a page, more focused and it takes a shorter time.
An investor would naturally prefer a traditional business plan because it is more detailed. Most entrepreneurs that started with the Lean business plan format go on to write the traditional business plan in the long run.
A lean business plan is similar to the executive summary of the traditional business plan.
Advice: You can start with the lean business plan if your start-up is just an idea and you’re not ready to launch or start pitching to potential funders
Number of Years
Drafting a plan for a startup or an existing business requires foresight because this plan serves as a guide as time goes on. The break-even period for each start-up is subjected to a lot of factors such as revenue model, expenses, percentage on loan, consumer behavior, etc.
You have to answer questions like, how many years are you willing to capture in your plan? How many years of projections are you looking to analyze in the financials? How far into the future are you willing to plan for?
Most business plans are usually written for the next 5years. Further updates can then be made to accommodate future adjustments.
How To Write a Business Plan?
The first step is to list out all the elements of a business plan either in a notepad or in a word document. The key elements of a business plan include;
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Company overview
- Market research analysis
- Products or services
- Strategy and implementation plan
- Organization and management
*** The table of contents and executive summary should be completed last***
The executive summary and the table of contents are both highlights of the whole document. It is only logical to finish other parts first before writing them. To make this learning process easier for you, this author will be providing direct instructions on how each part should be structured. Each section will also be furnished with key questions or phrases that will make it easier for you to personalize even better.
HERE WE GO!
Table of contents
As mentioned earlier, this should be one of the last sections of the business plan to be completed. You can use the Microsoft Word application to do this easily. Make sure that each heading in the document is styled with the “headings” under the ‘Styles Ribbon”. A table of content can then be inserted automatically in the “Reference Section”
Overview: Start with an engaging sentence. A sentence that highlights the need for the product or service. Another sentence that expresses the problem.
Second Paragraph: Explain how you got the inspiration. How do you come about creating or establishing this application, product, or service? Is there anything special about your product? Why should people patronize you? Quickly list out your experience, certifications, and technology behind this product.
Market research analysis: Type in numbers. What and who are your targets? How many people need this product or service? What percentage of the market is readily available? What percentage of people will buy through that medium you are looking to sell? Who are the competitors?
Products or Services: List out all the products and services and the solutions that will be provided by the company. if there are varieties. List and summarize the uniqueness of each product. How much will it cost? Explain the advantages that your business has over its competition.
Strategy and implementation plan: How will the products be sold? Briefly list out the plan marketing plan in bullet points or numbers.
Organization and management: Summarize the experience, expertise, academic qualifications of each team member.
Financials: Copy and paste the Profit and Loss table from the financial projections.
Now let’s move on.
Before we proceed, please keep in mind that the remaining parts of your new business plan would be in full detail. So, don’t hold back your words.
Introduce the company, the products, services, and the inspiration behind this company.
Talk about yourself in detail here. Full name, location, educational qualification, and years of experience relevant to the company and the service its rendering should be written here.
A perfect example is- “To provide quality writing services to our esteemed clients that will help their companies gain traction and conversion.”
A perfect example is – “Our vision is to grow our brand to an international level and compete with similar service providers”
List each principal member, their roles, and their brief profile.
Identify the legal status of the company in this section.
Market Research and Analysis
To make this section easier. Divide your work into the following subheadings.
The Global Market Size
Discuss the details of the research carried out to get the global market size for your products extensively. Includes charts, tables in this section.
The Regional Market Size
Discuss the details of the research carried out to get the regional market size of your products extensively. Includes charts, tables in this section.
For all the tables, charts, and pictures used in this section, make sure to include references beneath them.
List the locations where your company wishes to serve.
You identify the weakness, strengths. You’ll also list the opportunities and threats that might be faced. This can be done in a tabular form or a prose-like manner.
Strategy and Implementation Plan
Use the following sub-headings to write this section.
List of all the elements that give you the advantage over your competitors.
You can further break this down into;
- Marketing Objectives: This can be to attract a certain number of followers. It can also be to generate sales or attract awareness. You’ll specify it here clearly.
- Marketing Strategies: Strategies can include opening a website and social media pages, email marketing, researching how competitors are getting their customers, etc.
Organization and Management
This section can further be broken into:
Management Description: This is you’ll further describe the company’s values, activities, mission, and vision.
Management Structure: Each Member of the organization will be further discussed here. Their full biography, responsibilities, management roles, etc. will be explained in detail.
Since this part deals mainly with the manipulation of numbers, it is better to use an excel sheet or google spreadsheet. This way, you’ll save time and energy.
The fastest way to write this part is to use an existing template. You can find templates by running a simple search on Google. A “simple business plan financial template” would do the magic.
Download the template and edit the figures to suit your company’s goals and objectives.
If you follow these steps carefully, you will end up with a well-structured document that will serve as a guide as you venture into your business. Ideally, one should give the business plan to an English expert to proofread and correct errors.
Asking an expert technical writer to vet the write-up is also a great idea. Another person’s perspective on the business idea and how the plans were laid out can even lead to improvements.
You only need to put in your time and energy to make this happen. I’ll bank on you to make it happen.
Keywords: Business plan, Startup, Business, step by step, 2021