Learn, improvise, pivot. Learn by doing. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth (thank Mike Tyson for that quote). That’s the excuse most people use when avoiding writing a business plan when starting the entrepreneurial journey.
Don’t make that mistake. Business plans are an essential part of any successful enterprise. They create structure and clear expectations. They set paths to growth and profitability, with key milestones. And if you’re looking for financing, it’s an all-important tool. In short, you can’t go without having one. Here’s how you can write your perfect business plan, even if you have no clue how to do it.
Before You Write: The Rules
Before you put digital pen to paper, let’s get a few things straight right from the get-go. Follow these rules when writing your business plan and you’ll avoid many of the common pitfalls.
Take Your Business Plan Seriously
Business plans are not add-ons or a box you need to tick to get started. If you’re taking more time perfecting your business card or signage over your plan (although the print is also important when starting!), you’ve got issues.
Keep Things Short and Simple
It’s tempting to want to write a sizeable tome when putting together a business plan. We recommend going the opposite direction: keep it short and sweet. Instead of writing 300 pages, go for a concise 30. It’s a guideline document, not a play-by-play.
Don’t Use a Thesaurus
Remember back in high school when you thought using a thesaurus would improve your English essays? Yeah, it won’t help here either. Instead of waffling on while using superfluous language, you want to get straight to the point using simple terminology.
You’re just starting out. You don’t have much money and you’re not exactly a business expert. Writing a business plan seems like a daunting proposition. And it is if you expect perfection. Getting the ball rolling is the most important rule; the rest will come.
To summarize this section: make your business plan an easy and smooth read. This is important on two counts. First, they’re often frequently used as reference points. Future you will be annoyed about having to struggle through painfully complicated language or what’s akin to a thesis. Second, potential investors will hate you if they have to trawl through what’s essentially unnecessary garbage when assessing your business.
What You Need to Include
Business plans can be split up into distinct parts. You’ll need to include these if you want to be taken seriously. We’re giving you a quick run-down of each one, but SBA.gov has a handy guide that goes over the following in a little more detail:
- Executive summary. If someone asks you what your business does and where it plans ongoing, this is what quickly answers that question.
- Company description. This is where you do a deep-dive on your organizational structure and how your business will deliver their product and service.
- Market analysis. What’s your target market? You want an in-depth analysis of who you are selling to, your competitors, and how you’ll stand out.
- Organization and management. How is your company structured? Who does what? You also need to include the legal structure of your company.
- Service or product. What is it that you’re selling, exactly?
- Marketing and sales. Sure, you have a solid product. But how are people going to find out about it and buy it?
- Funding. If you’re going to try and raise funds for your business, you need to know the numbers inside out.
- Financial projects. Don’t include pipe dreams or pie in the sky figures. Serious businesses do proper calculations in this section.
Write, Review, Edit
Finished? Ready to print it off and then leaving your business to gather dust? Not so fast. Before you hit CTRL+P, you want to review your document with painstaking detail. It’s annoying but necessary.
And once you’re done, consider it a version 1.0. As your business develops, matures, and becomes successful, you’ll want to go back and edit accordingly. Consider your business plan a ‘live’ document, revisiting it as things change.
Remember Your Why
We’re ending with a slight cheesy note, apologies. But we think it’s a worthwhile point nonetheless. When writing your business plan, remember your Why. This harks back to Simon Sinek’s seminal book on what inspires a business.
It’s not the How. It’s not the What. It’s the Why. That’s what makes people tick. And it’s that exact thing that makes your business unique, why it will (hopefully!) succeed. Your Why needs to permeate throughout your business plan, weaving itself through the raw financial data, the fancy market graphs and analysis, and your company structure. Do that and your business plan will go next-level, we promise!
Saad Mushtaq was born and raised in the busy city of Abbottabad. As a journalist, Saad Mushtaq has contributed to many online publications including the PAK Today and the Huffing Post. In regards to academics, Saad Mushtaq earned a degree in business from the Abbottabad UST, Havelian. Saad Mushtaq follows the money and covers all aspects of emerging tech here at The Hear Up.Thanks
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Umar Nisar was born and raised in the busy city of Abbottabad. As a journalist, Umar Nisar has contributed to many online publications including PAK Today and the Huffing Post. In regards to academics, Umar Nisar earned a degree in business from the Abbottabad UST, Havelian. Umar Nisar follows the money and covers all aspects of emerging tech here at The Hear Up.