HOW TO SUCCEED WITH A BUSINESS PLAN. A business plan is more than just a document that will help you impress potential investors. A business plan is the basis of a strategic plan that contains all the information you need to start your business. Your business plan will guide your actions and provide you with goals so you can track your progress as an entrepreneur.
Even if you think you’ve mastered this aspect, every entrepreneur can benefit from additional advice to further improve their business plan. Here are some of our top tips for writing a great business plan for your new business.
Be as brief as possible
Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of writing a plan that is so long and complex that no one, not even you, will want to go through it. If you can say what you need to say in a few words, don’t say it in a paragraph just because it sounds better that way. Get straight to the point, as quickly as possible.
If you present your plan to potential investors, they will be more impressed by a concise document, which will allow them to have a clear vision of what you are planning. Clarity and conciseness are two guiding principles when writing a business plan.
Adapt to the readers of your business plan
Know your audience. You will probably need several versions of your business plan: one for bankers or venture capitalists, one for individual investors, one for companies who may wish to set up a joint venture with you rather than finance you, etc.
Expectations and level of understanding are not the same: write several versions of your business plan, adapting the level of detail and language to your audience.
Use numbers and data to back up your claims
Don’t promise the moon without hard numbers to prove you can get it. If you plan to become the leader in your field in six months, you need to explain why you think so. If you write that your product is going to take the market by storm, you need to back that claim up with facts. To get these facts and figures, you can do some market research. If you write that your management team is fully qualified to make the business a success, make sure that staff CVs demonstrate the necessary experience.
Be careful when building your financial projections
If you are certain of capturing 50% of the market in the first year, you must explain why you think so and indicate what the potential income could be. Whenever possible, adopt conservative financial projections – for example, a 10% market share is much more credible and “easier” to justify.
Be realistic with the time and resources available
Being overly optimistic with time and resources is a common mistake entrepreneurs make: they think they can accomplish anything in a snap. Being realistic is important because it lends credibility to your presentation. Always assume that things will take 15% longer than expected. Therefore, 20 weeks in your action plan should be counted as 23 weeks.
It’s good to be ambitious. However, if the success of your business is based on an external factor, you reduce the chances of surviving the first years after the launch of your business. Be conservative in your guesses, then aim for the moon in practice. It is better to exceed your initial expectations than not to meet them.
Start from a business plan model to maximize your chances of succeeding with your business plan
A good business plan template has four major benefits. First of all, you have an already structured business plan in your hands (nothing worse than a business plan that has neither tail nor head). Second, you reduce the risk of errors since you have a starting point, which puts you on track for the success of your business plan. Then, you save time, in terms of research but also analysis and writing. Finally, you have a professional presentation to give to your banker or investor.
Learning how to write a business plan is only half the battle. Knowing how to continuously improve, iterate and adapt it is the other half. When writing a business plan, always be clear and concise with language. When it comes to the format of your business plan, adhering to a traditional or generally expected format can improve your chances of securing funding for your business.
For banks and investors, the financial aspect is naturally of the utmost importance. However, they will review the document as a whole, so each section of your business plan should be carefully researched and clearly written and organized. This will increase your chances of obtaining financing to successfully start your business.