Basically, a business plan is written to attract or secure financial support for your business or for the investors to confirm their investment in your business. In addition, it helps in setting up goals and keeps a check on the company’s progress. Here are ten basic rules to make your planning and life a lot easier.
1. Write for your audience
The first and foremost is the audience. Theses are the people you want to attract or be interested in being a part of the business as investors or as the potential partners. Your business plan should not be difficult to understand in terms of language, don’t use jargon. For example, being in a chemical industry, not all investors would know the language or terminologies used in chemistry or you will narrow your investors down to only those who understand the chemistry. So to help them cross that bridge make sure you use common English to communicate with your audience. Be clear as you are explaining your business to a non-professional.
2. Keep it concise
KEEP IT BRIEF! You will not want the potential lenders or investors to get bored and do not expect them to read through all the fluffy language you have written. It needs to be clear and concise and as much like face-to-face communication as possible.
3. Check the competition
The competition is a reference and a friend in disguise for your business. Your competitive edge keeps you ahead of the others in your market, but you must remain aware of what the competition is doing at all times. Never underestimate the importance of a competitor no matter how they compare. You need to explain, making your audience understand the differences between you and each of your competitors.
4. Keep clear details
Your business plan needs to have precise details. Do not tire the reader or potential investor. You are inviting the lenders. You need to focus on the details and provide adequate information. Keep the language professional and use perfect grammar and spelling. Display accurate content, write down realistic assumptions and inform them with credible projections.
5. Aim for the opportunity
Clear your head every now and then. Keep asking yourself why you are writing the plan. If for example, you are looking for investment for a business it will be much better to describe clearly, the opportunity for investment. Entice the investor that it is better off using the money for business than keeping it in the bank. Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) should do the trick. Explain the opportunity and why should the investor put their money into your business or to buy the business from you.
6. Cover the key elements
Since it is all about providing the information overview, undertake research to find out which sections you should include in your business plan. There are many websites you can find with such content to help you cover all the aspects needed in your business plan. Use vibrant language. Add colourful charts and spreadsheets so your plan is not predominantly text based.
7. Show your numbers in the right way
The numbers are what will be under scrutiny. The documented costs are done on predictions of sales based on the realistic and conservative approach. Since costs are very specific and to an extent predictable as well, for a business its trust and turfs of sales are a critical factor in the failure or success. Prepare a simple break-even chart and a cash flow. It can relieve the investor to see their ROI coming back at a glance. There are a lot of start-up expenses in the beginning during the indefinite sales volumes but investors expect this and will look beyond it into the potential of the new business.
8. Have an Executive Summary
The next thing is to summarise the whole business plan so the prospective lenders and investors can see the overall picture quickly and concisely. One of the most important things to remember is to keep the writer’s team and the people involved in the making of your business plan the same throughout. So that in the real presentation your document is convincing. Coming back to the executive summary, this section is written after you have completed the entire business plan and yet read first by potential investors because those readers want to have an overall picture before investing too much time into it. It is exactly what it is called, a summary.
9. Get your document checked and reviewed by experts
Once you are done with your business plan, it is a good idea to get second opinions and have it independently reviewed. Get it read by those who you think have the appropriate knowledge and experience to critique it for you. Select someone separate from the whole process, someone, who could give a thorough and constructive assessment. This review of your document may provide you with aspects that you could have overlooked.
10. Implement and Go!
Now you have everything at your fingertips, all you need to do is implement the plan. Consider asking a question at the end of the executive summary, leaving the reader to think about. So, now if you are sure that what you have written will bring you what you want in terms of funding, investment or at least reading about your business, make sure you have formatted it properly.
Well above everything, it will be the content, the strategies and your reasons for why the business will be a success, that will invite others to invest or be a part of your robust business!
Download a business plan template and start creating your business plan.