When it comes to writing a business plan, there is a certain formula that works, regardless of your industry or product. We aim to unearth goals, reveal flaws and determine the overall trajectory of the business. Here are our top tips on how to write a business plan.
The purpose may either be internal or to assist in obtaining finance. Either way, a business plan should include:
In your mission statement, describe the problem that you are going to solve and the ultimate reason that your business exists. Be succinct, passionate, clear and persuasive.
Analyse your competitors and the marketplace, now and into the future. To build on this, ask your self: What does your industry look like in five years? Is there still a need for your product, or will your business need to evolve? It’s important to look ahead.
After you’ve thoroughly researched the marketplace, explain the values of your company and highlight your brand’s USPs. To do this, determine what separates your business from its competitors. Ultimately, describe the FEELING that your brand creates. From here, you will be able to build out important content.
Describe the demographics of your target audience; age, gender, location, education, interests, job title and/or industry. To support this, be clear about your customer and their desires.
ONE BHAG (BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL)
Every company should have a big, hairy, audacious goal. This is a long-term goal that everyone in the business can understand and support. The term was coined in the book ‘Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies’ by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. If it’s exciting, inspiring and creates momentum, it’s a BHAG.
YEAR 1-3 PROFIT AND LOSS GRAPH
Demonstrate the goals of income, gross profit and net profit after tax. Understanding and visualising the profit and loss structure of the business is essential to growth. For more detailed information on how to write a profit and loss statement, check out our masterclasses here.
Take note of the key products, flagship products, profitable products, bait products and supporting products in your business. If you like, describe them in further detail, including their evolution.
MARKETING AND SALES
Describe your high-level marketing, social media and sales strategies. Within these strategies, outline the platforms on which you will be found, and the time and energy that you can afford them. Additionally, list the big marketing projects that will directly increase audience and income, as well as the small projects that support these.
Be clear about the startup capital and ongoing income you will require to support your expenses and be able to turn a profit. If you are unable to fund this business as an individual, now or into the future, list your opportunities for funding here.
If you want to grow your business, at some point you will need to grow your team. Therefore, describe the roles that you need to fill to take your company to the next level. Moving from entrepreneur to leader is a HUGE but necessary step.
Know your exit strategy before you begin. If you hope to sell this business, outline the steps you’ll need to take in order to do so. Having an exit strategy from the beginning will create pathways in the business that will lead to a successful sale or handover. Once you consider why someone would want to acquire your business, the trajectory becomes entirely different.