Each company must have a written business plan. Whether it is to orient or attract investors, a business plan is essential to your organization’s success.
Writing a business plan represents a significant workload often feared by entrepreneurs. To facilitate this writing, we have divided the process into ten main steps.
This practical sheet will help you structure your approach from strategic thinking to send your document to investors! However, getting started can be difficult. Here is a guide to writing a perfect business plan.
- Research, research, research.
Research and analyze your product, market, and objective expertise. Consider spending twice as much time on research, evaluation, and thinking as you actually spend writing the business plan.
- Ask yourself the right questions.
Before you launch headlong into writing your business plan, you must sharpen your ax, that is to say, prepare yourself for this writing by thinking deeply about your project and asking yourself the right questions.
The first question to ask yourself is straightforward: do I need to write a business plan?
Writing a business plan is not trivial. It will require time and energy. So, be sure to need such a document before getting started. If you can launch your business or even a beta version of your project without raising funds: go for it! Don’t waste your time writing a 20-30 page document.
If writing a business plan is essential, then you can start asking yourself some key questions:
- What is the pitch of my project in one sentence?
- Which clientele do I target?
- What will my strategy be to recruit them?
- On which business model should I base myself?
- With whom will I start my business?
- Why do I need funds?
At this point, it can be interesting to download a business plan model to realize all the questions you will have to answer and start to structure your thinking.
- Ascertain the purpose of your plan.
A business plan is a manuscript that describes the nature of the business, financial context, marketing and sales strategy, and a profit loss statement.
It is a roadmap that provides directions for a business to plan for the future and helps it evade bumps in the road. It’s important to keep in mind if you’re self-financing or starting your own business.
On the other hand, if you want to attract investors, you will need to write a plan that targets them to be as clear and concise as possible. When defining your plan, make sure you have also identified these goals personally.
- Create a company profile.
Your business profile includes your organization’s history, the products or services you offer, your target market and target audience, your resources, how you will solve a problem, and what makes your business unique.
Company profiles are often found on the official company website and are used to attract potential customers. It’s not just an essential part of your business plan; it is also one of the plan’s first written parts. Setting up your profile makes this step much easier to compose.
- Document all aspects of your business.
Investors want to know all about your business to ensure that your business is making enough money for them.
To help you with this progression, document everything from your expenses, cash flow, and industry projections. Also, don’t forget about seemingly minor details like your location strategy and license agreements.
- Study the potential market for your project.
A good business plan will always include a strategic and aggressive marketing plan. It generally consists of the achievement of marketing objectives, such as:
- Presentation of new products
- Extension or revival of the market for existing products
- Enter new territories for the company
- Stimulate sales in a particular product, market, or price range. Be specific.
- Cross-selling (or grouping) of one product with another
- Conclusion of long-term contracts with desirable clients
- Increase prices without reducing sales figures
- Refine a product
- Have a content marketing strategy
- Improved manufacturing/delivery of products
Your market research (step and essential part of your business plan) must be carried out at the very beginning when you are still at the stage of reflection.
Indeed, this study, which consists of analyzing the size of your market, your competition, and the potential of your project, will influence all of your strategic decisions and your business model, and your financial modeling.
- Establish financial modeling of its activity.
Do not make the mistake of modeling your business plan at the very end of writing your business plan. Indeed, many parts of your business plan will be impacted by this modeling (development strategy, communication, financial forecasts, business model, and need for funding). This modeling must, therefore, be carried out immediately after your market study.
To carry out your modeling and establish a financial forecast, you will have to re-use certain information obtained thanks to your market research. The information obtained can help you determine your activity’s seasonality, the size of your market, the most exciting business model to set up, or your communication strategies and budgets.
- Make it adaptable to your audience.
Every kind of reader has particular typical interests. If you know these interests from the start, you can be sure to take them into account when preparing a plan for this specific reader.
For this reason, make sure your plan can be changed to suit the audience reading your plan. However, limit these changes from one plan to another. It means that you should keep this data the same across the board when you share financial projections.
- Make an executive summary.
An executive summary is a form of an attractive overview of your business plan. Remember not to exceed two pages and highlight the essential elements of your business plan (the need you meet, the potential of your market, the main features of your strategy, the strengths of your team, your financial forecasts, and especially your need for financing).
This part must be very visual and attractive because it is what will give your interlocutor the desire, or not, to meet you and learn more about your project.
- Have your business plan reread!
It’s good, and you have your document well written and sufficiently impactful. Your hypotheses are justified, your presentation is clear, your market research is convincing, everything is perfect, you are about to send it to your first contacts. Wait! There is one last step to finalize your document, and you must have it read and corrected.
The main objectives of this proofreading are to make sure that your business plan is clear, without spelling errors. To ensure that your plan is easily understandable for everyone, its presentation is attractive, and the people to whom you show your business plan would want to invest in your project?
As you saw in this article, writing a business plan responds to a logical sequence of steps. We must find this logic in your document. The parts are interdependent with each other: for example, your communication strategy depends on your target found through your market research and the way you have modeled. Your activity will directly impact the amount of financing that you will ask of an investor.
Keep in mind that the process of writing your business plan is often more important than the document itself. Do things in order, take time for reflection, do not skip steps, and your business plan will then have had a real use for the development of your business.