Did you know that December is National Write a Business Plan Month?
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people forgo working for someone else in lieu of starting their own business. And as someone who kinda fell into this line of work, I instantly saw how important it was to have a business plan. I created one in 2010 when I first began, and it has done wonders for me. Now heading into 2015, I am starting another business that I hope to grow into something big, so one of the first things on my agenda is working on a business plan for this new endeavor.
I must be honest when I say that writing a business plan isn’t easy. I would advise that if you can, you should invest in getting a professional to help you create one. But if you can’t hire someone at this point or are unable to, you can follow these tips to help you write your own:
Know your purpose for the plan
There are many reasons for a business plan. Some use it as a tool to get funding. Others use it to help with future plans and strategy (this is what I used it for). You can’t properly draft the plan without having a reason first. Once you have one, then you can go about the process of creating the document.
Research, research, research
Before writing a business plan, I suggest doing your research. Research what your competition is (their prices, their structure, their marketing, etc.) so you thoroughly understand what you are up against and how you will do things differently to compete. Know the costs of doing business and your expenses. This is very important when using your business plan to reach out to investors for funding.
Get straight to the point
Once you begin to craft your business plan, cut out the fluff and over the top language. Don’t pad the document or use filler. Get straight to the point and write to your audience, who at the end of the day, wants particulars and information.
There are plenty of resources to help you. SCORE has a wonderful gallery of business plan templates that you can use that can help you write your business plan with ease. I used these when I created my first business plan for The Cubicle Chick back in 2010. The U.S. Small Business Administration also has tons of info and tools to help you as well.
According to Forbes writer Patrick Hull, these are the components that should be included in your business plan:
- Mission statement and/or vision statement so you articulate what you’re trying to create;
- Description of your company and product or service;
- Description of how your product or service is different;
- Market analysis that discusses the market you’re trying to enter, competitors, where you fit, and what type of market share you believe you can secure;
- Description of your management team, including the experience of key team members and previous successes;
- How you plan to market the product or service;
- Analysis of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threat, which will show that you’re realistic and have considered opportunities and challenges;
- Develop a cash flow statement so you understand what your needs are now and will be in the future (a cash flow statement also can help you consider how cash flow could impact growth);
- Revenue projections; and
- Summary/conclusion that wraps everything together (this also could be an executive summary at the beginning of the plan).
Hopefully after reading this post, you are equipped with the information you need to begin working on your own business plan, if you haven’t already. Here’s to your success!