Your business plan ought to be a clear, concise roadmap that will lead your business to success. Without a plan, you’ll find it harder to communicate your vision. Harder to see the actions you need to take to grow your company.
Below are five ideas I’ve found helpful when preparing a business plan, both for myself and my clients
#1 Cut the blurb
You know all the buzz words and phrases you often hear in a business meeting. For your plan, be as concise as possible and eliminate any fluffy filler language, i.e. the blurb. The fluff distracts from your message and aim, even if it sounds wonderful. Investors, employees and even clients don’t want to be reading pages of waffle. They want you to get to the point and understand the necessary actions.
#2 Be realistic
#3 Show you are cautious
The bottom line is no one wants to invest in a reckless entrepreneur who doesn’t understand the numbers. When setting targets, use examples to show how you have reached those conclusions. Look at the data, and if anything, err on the side of caution when working on your projections.
Again, you could argue this is a negative approach. But if the figures are saying you can succeed in the worst-case scenario, think how amazing it will be if none of the challenges materialise
#4 Include visuals
They say a picture paints a thousand words; hence whenever possible, use visuals in your business plan. Graphs, charts, photos and illustrations help break up the text and bring your concepts to life. Appropriately used visuals can help you take the reader on your journey. They can create a flow to the document and helping any visual learners understand your concepts better.
#5 Be Creative
We have all watched Dragon Den; the best pitches are those that grab the audience’s attention and get them excited about a product.
If done correctly, your business plan will help identify and overcome any weaknesses or areas of concern for your business. It will help you identify and hone in on your market and how to best meet their requirements. Your business plan will be essential in applying for investment or funding. Plus, if you ever get to the point of sale, it will show your sound business sense.
Keeping Your Business Plan In The Front Of Your Mind
So great, you are the proud owner of a well-thought-out business plan. But exactly how do you turn your plan into relativity? Here are a few ideas to help you ensure your business plan is always at the front of your mind.
#1 Turn the plan into a series of actions.
Identify what needs to happen at each stage of your plan. Break your business plan down into manageable actions, then prioritise and allocate those actions to your team.
#2 Use a project management tool
Use a project management tool (I use Trello) to share information and collaborate with your team members. Don’t forget to record the milestone on the tool so everyone can see your progress.
#3 Calendar regular review dates
Pop regular review dates in your calendar so that you regularly revisit your plan. I would suggest at least quarterly. However, if that seems a lot of work for a particular month, break it down so that you review one element of the plan each month. For example, you might look at market research this month, competitor analysis next month and operational efficiency, the following month.
Always remember, though, that no plan is perfect. Your business plan is a living document and needs constant adjustment depending on and the market. But, starting with a well-thought-out strategy can be the difference between the success or failure of your business.