How to write a business plan?

When writing a business plan...

Writing a business plan may the last thing you think of, you might not see the need for it at all; although there are lots of things to think about when you’re setting up a new business. What will you name business? What type of logo design would look good? Which colours you want you use for your branding. Whether you should be a sole trader or a limited company? The list continues… You already feel you know what your business idea is and what you will do to make it successful, so why even bother?

Here’s why it is important to write a good business plan!

As the old saying goes; “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” ~ [Quote somebody anonymous] This is why it is important to set clear goals with clear deadlines for each of your smaller goals, but all activities whether product development, marketing, branding or any other business aspect should be done with one overall business aim.

Identifying potential problems before they occur.

It would be fantastic if we could see into the future to know before hand whether there’s some major issue or problem that could cause your business to fail? By having a solid business plan, allows you to deal with the fundamentals of how your business will work. What risks are there might be? Who your competitors are? What the market research is saying? What costs will you have? Identifying these things early is the best way to take less risks and to have more chances of success. Another key reason to have a business plan is if you are going to need financial support to get your business started. Having a sound business plan is vital. Any prospective lender or investor will want to ensure that your business is being set up correctly, what the costs are and that your plans for business will be profitable and successful.”

What should I include in my business plan?

A business plan may vary depending on what type of business you are setting up and who you might be aiming it at, as doing a business plan for investors might focus more on the financial side of the business verses companies that are interested in showcasing a niche idea. There is no set in stone rules for a business plan however there are some very vital things that a good business plan should include.

1. Your Mission Statement or Vision

This should explain exactly what the purpose of your business is in a few simple paragraphs. What problems you are there to solve, what your core values are and what makes you unique.

2. Your Goals

Be specific when focusing on your goals, you should make more effort than to just ‘make money’ or ‘get customers’! as that is stating the obvious. Your goals need to be specific to you and your business needs. Think specifically about what you need to achieve in order to ‘make a profit’ or ‘get customers’. It may be that one of your goals to complete a marketing campaign, or maybe to hit a certain amount of profit… Having clear goals will give you an idea of what a success business could look like.

3. Your people

Even if that’s just you, that runs your business it is important to include skills and experience of yourself and the people that will be instrumental in running your business, this will demonstrate an understanding for your market, products and customer base and also show that you have the relevant knowledge to make the kind of business that you desire work.

4. Your Products and/or Services

You should identify your product lines, the types of products will you offer will, it be just one product or service or will you have multiple ones. Its important to think about your market when deciding on products, it may be a good idea to have done some prior research around your market so that you can target your products and services to your business niche.

5. Marketing Strategy

Once you have decided on your products and you should then plan how you will let your direct consumer base know your available for business. Think about how and where your customers are most likely to find you and what they need. It may be that marketing online is the best option or perhaps traditional print marketing might be more useful.

6. Competitors

You want to study your competitors because it shows you have an understanding of the market and you know some of the things that your consumer base like and dislike, in order to stand out in the market you need to know what your competitors are ding well and not so well, so that you can use this information to position yourself or find useful gaps that you may choose to exploit.

7. Finances

Seeing as making profit is a fundamental goal of business, finance therefor is one of the most key elements of any business plan. This is where you should break down your costs and income. Your costs should include both initial costs for starting up, and running costs of your business such as electricity or rent for office space. By doing this you can also forecast your income and expenses, remember to include any financial add that you may require and be sure to include this as well.”

Finding business plan examples

If you find it a bit difficult to get started with your business plan you may what to look at example of other business plans, you may find some online or have friends and family members that might be able to show you how they wrote their own business plans.
It won’t harm to join business related groups on social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn? Others who use similar groups and services are often willing to help and share ideas.

How often should I update my business plan

So you’ve finished your business plan, what now? Do you just file it and forget about it? Of course not! You should revise this document as often as required, whether it be daily, weekly or monthly, you should review and update your plan as often as required to stay on track of your original mission statement. You should refer to your business plan to ensure that you are meeting targets and update information as the needs of your business may change, ensuring that the information is still relevant. As changes occur to the market, consumer habits or any other factors that may affect the operations of your business, you should adaptable enough to make these adjustments, have your business plan as a guide will be very useful if' and when' these things might happen.