Your business plan can be for your own use and guidance, or can be for external use to seek support from others. Either way, a good business plan outlines your business strategy, what you need to do to achieve your goals, helps you think through your options identifying the best opportunities, and helps convince banks, investors and other key contacts to support you.
So, it’s crucial to remember your target audience and to be clear about what the business plan is seeking to achieve. This is by necessity a very brief guide, but here are ten key points to help.
1. Keep it simple and clear, don’t overcomplicate or lapse into jargon.
2. You must have a clear and convincing executive summary. Too often the key points are buried deep in the plan.
3. State clearly what you need, what it’s for and why it will be successful.
4. Show how past performance supports your plans.
5. Explain growth prospects, and support by market research, don’t just make unsupported assertions.
6. Expand on your marketing strategy and sales process, prove that you know who your customers will be and why these customers will buy from you.
7. Show why you have sufficient competitive differentiation by identifying barriers to entry and competitive advantage.
8. Identify the management and support team, show their skills and ability to deliver the plan.
9. Prove you have thought it all through properly by providing a full risk analysis, considering the things that can go wrong and how you would deal with them.
10. You must produce credible and robust financial forecasts, plans, cashflows and “what if” projections, and support with appropriate accounts or other documents.
This is only the briefest guide, but simplicity is key. Keep your business plan simple and concise. Don’t get tied up in tautology, and try to show your passion for the business, but stay believable.
1 March 2018