Technology

How to Write a Business Plan — Comprehensive Guide

When you write a business plan, it allows you to see the big picture of what your business is and where it’s going. It serves as your roadmap, and it is the map that you’ll refer to when you need guidance in a hurry. But just any map won’t do. You have to have a detailed map for you to know where you are, where you want to go, how long it will take to get there, and what route you need to take to arrive at your destination.

A business plan’s primary purpose is to describe a business’s potential so an entrepreneur can get new funding. If you’re not seeking funding, don’t bother with one. It is important to note that a business plan is not an application for financing but rather an aid to think through the viability of the business idea and decide whether or not it will work.

We provide an all-inclusive guide for writing a business plan. We can cover all aspects of your event from the beginning to the end.

Click Here To Read: How to Start a Business from Scratch

Need To Write A Business Plan

Are your plans to make better business decisions so vague that you can’t tell what kind of business decisions they’ll help you make? Is it that important to know the ins and outs of running your business before you even start? Many entrepreneurs find it overwhelming to read about business plans, let alone write one. We write a business plan to avoid wasting time or money pursuing something that doesn’t need to be pursued. And writing a business plan can be beneficial for any entrepreneur, though there are some unique challenges and benefits specific to start-ups.

  • If you’d like to make more money and be able to make a living at the same time, it would be beneficial for you to rephrase your business plan.
  • Make confident decisions on weighty matters
  • Your business has more credibility
  • Keeps you focused on specific strategies to achieve your objectives
  • Makes you aware of how the audience you’re trying to court might think.
  • Helps to get certain resources and finances which are required for the business growth
  • Makes your business appear more professional 
  • Helps you avoid failures

Tips To Write A Great Business Plan

  1. Keep It To The Point

Business plans should be as short as possible. There are 2 reasons behind it

  1. While you want to include supporting documentation, the most important thing is to keep your business plan short. Most readers don’t have time to read 25-30 pages of the business plan. So keep your supporting documentation in an appendix.
  2. A business plan should be your guiding light. It shouldn’t just sit on a shelf. Long business plans often commit the reader to infeasible ideas.

2. Keep Your Audience In Mind

Instead of using jargon and buzzwords that your audience won’t understand, use clear and simple language. If your goal is to get financial backers, try to write in a manner that will make it easy for them to read.

Investors can be technophiles, business people, or a combination of both. It’s important to clarify how your product works for them.

3. Test Your Ideas 

Testing the viability of your business idea as early as possible means you can find out about any mistakes or flaws in your business plan and fix them before it’s too late. You need to have your business model validated by the world—and the best way to do that is by getting feedback and testing different elements.

Having a mentor or partner can be an effective way to identify whether potential customers will be interested in your products. Alternatively, speaking directly with potential customers can help you identify whether there is enough of a market for your products.

The more you test and review your ideas, the easier it will be to determine which ones work and which don’t.

4. Goals And Objectives Should Be Aligned With Your Core Values

What are the ultimate goals you hope to achieve with your business? How much do you want to earn, and when will you feel like you’ve achieved your goal? The more thought you put into your mission statement, the more clear-cut your goals will become.

A business plan can be a valuable document to help you reach important goals, especially if you are a first-time entrepreneur starting a small business. Working through your business plan can help you realize which actions need to be taken to develop your business’s different elements.

5. Don’t feel overwhelmed

Preparing a business plan doesn’t have to be difficult. You’re familiar with your business, so there’s no need to figure out how to explain it all to someone else. Your business plan can be a great way to find and leverage growth opportunities that are overlooked by competitors.

Creating a one-page business plan will help give you a clearer idea of what you want to achieve with your company.

Key Points Of Business Plan

If you’re building a business plan you need to determine who your customer is, how you’ll reach them, the pricing for your product, how you’ll deliver your product, and what resources and capital are required. The important key point of a business plan are given

  • Official summary
  • Opportunity
  • Execution
  • Company overview and team
  • Financial plan
  • Appendix

1. Official Summary

The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan, so make sure it’s ready before you start writing the rest. The executive summary could be anywhere from one to two pages, although if it’s much longer than one page, you should break it into two sections. It summarizes the strengths of your company and the information you need from investors.

The Crunchbase profile is important because it gives you the chance to tell your story. I recommend that you write your Crunchbase profile after you’ve already done a round of fundraising. Your executive summary is the first thing most investors look at when they consider a pitch. You need to make sure it’s perfect, which is why you should put all your effort into writing the rest of your business plan.

  • Overview Of Business

Your business description is about more than just describing your business. It’s a short pitch for what you’re doing, designed to draw in people interested in what you do. A great pitching tagline is more effective than a whole summary as it gains the reader’s attention.

  • Problem and Solution Section

Figure out some main problems that your company is solving for customers and make them convenient. What are you going to do differently or how are you going to approach your customers to get the results you want?

  • Target Your Market

As you clearly define your target market, you can better focus on that demographic. Here’s a thought: Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, try narrowing down your target market, and set a goal for each segment within that market. This will bring clarity to your marketing efforts and put your focus on the prospects that are most likely to buy what you’re selling.

  • Competition

Is your business competing against other businesses, websites, or apps? If so, how much extra cash flow do you have Competition is a fact of life; explaining how you’re different from that competition will help you attract investment.

  • Overview Of Your Team

You should have content describing your target customers, how your product meets customer needs, and the unique value that you are providing to them.

Investors don’t just care about a good idea. They look at the team behind an idea as well and hope that the team can carry out the idea to success.

  • Financial plan

Make sure your plan includes detailed, realistic information about your sales and expenses – and how much money each month you can expect to make. If your business model needs additional explanation, you may need to revisit it.

  • Funds requirements

In a business plan, it’s important to outline your financial situation because a prospective lender will want to know how you will pay back the loan. Never offer investment terms upfront because that will cause all negotiations to break down. If you’ll need a large amount of money, just state that.

  • Future milestones

The financial information that investors will be most interested in will be the progress you’ve made so far and future goals. If you include proof that your target customer base is interested in your product or service, it will be easier to convince people that they should be too.

Questions for your Official Summary

  • What is the one thing that you want most to achieve through your business?
  • How do you expect to appeal to the customers in your target group?
  • Who are the people who work with you?
  • How much money do you need?
  • What is your overall strategy for this company? 

2. Opportunity

The main points in a business plan are the opportunity, how you will execute it, a description of the company, and a financial plan. The great thing about the “Opportunity Chapter” is that it’s the only part of your business plan which is guaranteed to be accurate. It is important to demonstrate how your solutions are unique and hard to replicate, and what steps you have taken to ensure that your business’s long-term success.

You don’t have to explain the same things to people multiple times. They can read your executive summary, which contains most of the important points. If a prospect or client asks you for details, knowing your USPs makes it easier to answer them. This increases the likelihood of establishing a relationship with them and even closing a sale.

  • Problem and solution section

If you have come up with the idea to solve a problem or meet a need, describe it in the opportunity chapter. Tell the reader about your potential customer’s problems/needs without talking about your product idea yet. Talk about how they are currently solving. If your business helps to solve a problem for some people, you can expect that others want the same help, but can’t find affordable or convenient solutions.

It’s very important to understand the problem that your business is supposed to solve for customers and what it means to them. If you can’t figure out a need that your business will satisfy in the minds of potential customers, then it’s unlikely to ever succeed.

  • Target market

Once you have identified the problems your business idea solves for your target market, it’s time to position you in front of that audience. If your business is seasonal, for example, you can go over the future year and explain when you expect revenue to peak. If your business is more stable, then you might want to discuss specific financial projections. A lack of clear customer segmentation can be a sign that you don’t have proper market targeting.

  • Market analysis

If you want to do a market analysis, don’t start with the first piece of information you find. To start your marketing process, you must first identify your target audience and then evaluate how much of the audience you can capture for your product or service. When you market to “everyone,” your marketing might not feel compelling to anyone. A market segment must be a group of people, be willing to buy something, and have the money to buy that something.

  • TAM, SAM, And SOM

The TAM, SAM, and SOM are often used to describe the potential market for a product or service.

TAM: The total market size represents how much you can sell

SAM: You have to decide what is reasonable when you’re creating a segmented addressable market.

SOM: Your Company’s sales potential (expressed as a percentage of the total market’s) is its share of the market.

  • Competition

The more thoroughly you study the competition, the clearer you’ll be about your potential customer’s problems and their subsequent goals. The most important way to illustrate how your solution is different is to understand what other options a potential customer has for addressing the same need. Who do you have on your team and why will their presence give you an advantage over the competition?

Many different types of competition can affect a business, but at the end of the day, business owners must always be concerned with how to beat their competitors.

  • Future services 

If an entrepreneur anticipates that the business will be successful in the future, they will often have a plan for what they will do with that success. The purpose of your business plan is to explain what you will do in the future, not to explain what you might do in the future.

Use a couple of paragraphs to describe the future you intend to create, but make sure your plan is dominated by short-term goals.

Questions to answer your opportunity 

  • Who are your customers? What is the biggest need your target customer has?
  • What issue do your customers experience? 
  • How does your solution help them?
  • Do you know what your competitors are doing effectively, and how those strategies are affecting their performance?

3. Execution

The execution chapter is how you prepare and carry out your plan. It includes everything about how you’re going to implement your ideas.

  • Marketing Plans 

The marketing and sales plan details how you’re going to reach your target market and what activities you will need for your business to be successful.

Before you begin to write your marketing plan, ask yourself: do I know my target audience? You have no point in creating a marketing plan if you don’t know exactly who you are talking to.

  • Positioning statement

In marketing, positioning is how you market your product or company to potential customers. A defining factor for your business is whether it is a low-price solution or a premium, luxury brand. Are you cheaper because you’re cutting corners and being as cheap as possible? Or do you have a particular advantage over your competitors?

  • Pricing

The way you set your prices will often be a major driver of how people see you. If you’re trying to convey an aura of high value, prominently featuring sales can be an important tool. A high price communicates to consumers that your product is different. You should probably be able to afford the quality of your product without charging more than you can reasonably expect people to pay.

  • Promotion

Promotion is a critical part of any marketing strategy, and it’s important to plan out how you’ll promote your product before launching it into the market. Just like with any other expense, it’s important to track how much you spend on promotions and sales they generate. Sustaining a non-profitable campaign is expensive and time-consuming.

  • Packaging

Product packaging is a major factor when buying a product, so if you want to sell your product, the packaging is an important part of your business plan.

The packaging must include:

  • Will the packaging be updated with the new design?
  • Is your packaging cohesive with your brand’s positioning?
  • Can your packaging communicate the same message as your website or product label?
  • How does your product packaging stack up against what is currently on the market?
  • Advertising

You should know what your plans are for advertising. The types of ads that fulfill your objectives are numerous. Your business plan should include a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of all your advertising options.

  • Social media

Being on social media is extremely important for a company. It’s very difficult to grow without one. Get on the social media channels where your customers are, not just those where you want to be seen. If you’re not, any sales you make will probably be low quality.

  • Operations

Business operations are the day-to-day functions that keep your business moving forward, such as logistics, technology, and human resources. Since different types of businesses have different needs, it’s important to think carefully about what sections you need and what sections you don’t.

  • Distribution

For those of you who are selling products, your distribution plan will likely need to be a part of your definition of the market (see marketing) and/or your business model. For those of you in service businesses, you can probably skip this part.

There are several kinds of distribution channels you can use to get your product out into the world, and similar companies in your industry have already figured out what works best for them. If you’re planning to operate as a distributor, here’s what you need to know about the different options available.

  • Direct distribution: Direct distribution is the ideal option if you can afford it since it allows you to keep all of your profits for yourself.
  • Retail distribution: If you distill the retail supply chain down to its essence, it’s just a few large retailers working with thousands of small suppliers.
  • Manufacturers’ representatives: Salespeople at an agency may be especially good at selling to other businesses or the government.
  • Original equipment manufacturer: When a company buys a product from you and then sells it as part of their finished product, that’s known as an OEM channel.
  • Assumptions and risks

If you’ve thought through a business model and made key assumptions, you should be prepared to answer what would happen if you’re wrong. A key assumption is that your customers want what you’re building. Without a solid reputation, you are taking a big risk by relying on new customers to fill a hungry marketplace.

If you advertise heavily in the online space, you are making assumptions about how much money you will spend on advertising and how many people will convert and make a purchase.

Questions to answer your Execution

  • How many channels do my business use and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How will you set your prices so that you can charge above average but still attract customers?
  • What should your brand logo look like?
  • What steps do you need to take to reach each of your goals?

4. Team And Company Overview

When an investor is deciding whether they should invest in your company, they’ll want to know who you are and what makes you special.

  • Team

As you think through who you want to hire, remember that your business idea will only be as good as the team behind it. Then it comes to the management team which manages to complete orders and makes your company reliable.

  • Company overview

An overview of a company can be the shortest section of a business plan. However, if you decide to write a business plan for public release, make sure it includes an executive summary in addition to the company overview. 

You must include these things in your plan

  • Proxy statement
  • Trademarks 
  • review of company ownership 
  • Location of business
  • History of company 

Questions to Answer Your Company Overview 

  • Who can you trust and who do you need to bring onboard?
  • How has your mission shaped the business?
  • Do you need a place where clients can come to you? If so, what are the location constraints?
  • Have you considered what your business structure will be next year and the year after that?

5. Financial Plan

You should include a detailed breakdown of your financials, with income and expenses over the past year. You can also specify your projections for how much you intend to grow in the next 12 months.

If you already have some business transactions, you should include balance statements, income statements, and cash flow statements for the last few years. Are you currently using or considering other assets (such as real estate, stocks, or collectibles) that you could put up as collateral?

Include information about how you’ve been able to make it to your current position, and how you’ll continue to make it in the future. Don’t worry about your projections being inaccurate at first. Make sure information is easy to find and use. Instead, all the facts should be laid out on the table in a concise, straightforward manner for all to see without any confusion. Charts and graphs are great to use when communicating financial information.

Questions to Answer Your Financial Plan

  • What do you expect your sales to look like next year?
  • Are you tracking your expenses?
  • How soon will you be able to start a profitable business?
  • How do you measure your growth?
  • Are you using the funds wisely?

6. Appendix

Appendixes are a great place to include any additional information that would decrease the overall effectiveness of your business plan by including it elsewhere. Appendices can consist of any charts, tables, definitions, or other content. Think about how much information you, the author, include in the description of your product.

Conclusion

Most people underestimate the importance of writing a business plan. Many times, people pursue a venture because they think it’s easy and doesn’t need to analyze the pros and cons. However, a successful business requires a lot of upfront work and research. Even if the result is a profitable venture, you could have lost money if you didn’t properly plan for things like payroll, overhead, investment income, and product development.