A business plan should formally and comprehensively outline what your business is, how it fits in with the current market and what problem it solves, as well as financial information, including projected sales, and the type of investment you require.
If you’re looking to get funding for your business, it is essential that your business plan is compelling. Business plans should be comprehensive, but this doesn't necessarily mean exhaustative (no one will want to read pages and pages), so be concise and structure it correctly.
To help ensure you make the best impression, we have put together some top tips about how to approach writing your business plan:
1. Include the essential information
Structure your business plan correctly, including the following essential information:
• Executive summary
• Mission statement
• Summary of company, products and USPs
• Market analysis, including trends and growth
• Competitive comparison and positioning
• Target audience
• Future business goals
• Business development strategy
• SWOT analysis
• Distribution and sales strategy
• Organisation structure
• Financial plan
• Projected sales , margin, profit and break-even
• Capital required and use of funds
2. Write an impressive executive summary
Getting the numbers right is essential but focus your energy on creating an impressive executive summary as this is the most important part of your business plan. Guy Kawasaki recommends spending “eighty percent of your effort on writing a great executive summary and twenty percent on the rest of the plan.”
This part of your business plan should be comprehensive and detailed, so feature data, graphs and tables where possible to back up your points. However, do be concise – it is not recommended for an executive summary to exceed more than two pages.
3. Sell yourself
MP Star Financial emphasise the need to sell yourself and make a compelling case for your business in your plan: “While you have to be truthful, reasonable and credible regarding what you put in the plan … This is no time for contrived modesty.”
4. Get a second pair of eyes
As the business-owner, the business plan needs to be your work. However, being too close to the woods to see the trees can sometimes mean you don’t pick up on spelling and grammatical errors, typos and omissions, which can result in your plan making less of an impression.
Ask someone you know personally with good literacy skills or a professional copy writer to sense-check and proofread the document for you.
5. Keep your business plan dynamic
So you’ve submitted your business plan and got the investment you need? Great! Don’t use this as an excuse to forget about or discard your business plan.
You should approach your business plan as a dynamic document. Update your plan at least annually to maximise its value and help guide business decisions. Keep a Google Doc version to make the editing process easier.