How to Write a Business Plan (And Also How Not To!)

This is something everybody should do before even thinking of starting a business. Yes, it’s all about how to write a business plan.

In short, your business plan is a mirror image of your thoughts on paper. While there are different ways of writing a business plan like will tell you, let’s not get into the formats here. For now, this piece will help you get started on how to write a business plan – what are the things you should consider and what must you avoid.

First of all, ask yourself these questions:

a) What is the product or service I will offer?
b) Who are my customers?
c) How will I finance my business?
d) How will I reach the customers?

If you are in a position to answer these questions, deep down you probably already know how to write a business plan. The following tips might just make it easier.

Get a move on: Don’t wait till you can put it off no longer – do it with enough time to spare for those inevitable changes. It’s also a good idea to get a second or third opinion before finalizing that draft. Seek professional help if necessary – there are plenty of resources out there on how to write a business plan.

Keep it sharp: Always remember, your business plan should not exceed 50 pages, unless you want to put those investors to sleep. It’s not necessary to dump in all the stuff in your head. Stick to the essentials, but say it without ambiguity. It’s not a bad idea to include a few colorful charts, tables, bullet points and pictures to break the monotony. Ensure that key business objectives are highlighted upfront. A plan is not complete unless it includes market estimates, growth projections and a financial projection.

Finally, present it with confidence and conviction.

Mind your audience: How you write a business plan will most definitely depend on who you’re talking to. Corporate investors like venture capitalists look for a sound business model and a capable leadership team before they part with their money. On the other hand, if you’re trying to sell the idea to your team members or senior management, address “how to” issues and risk factors.

Be realistic: Sometimes plans look good on paper, but are next to impossible to implement. Talk in realistic terms and keep your goals simple. Investors can be hawkish when it comes to appraising business strategy, so don’t overreach your business plan.

Say why you’re the best: That’s the way world goes. While writing a business plan, it’s very important to think competitively throughout. State how your business is different – present an objective evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of close competitors. Highlight any innovations – for instance, are you planning to use a different marketing or distribution tool or employ breakthrough technology?

Package it well: The worst thing you can do to a good business plan is to package it shabbily. If you didn’t win the spelling bee in high school, have someone proof-read your document. Break it into different sections, with clear titles. An executive summary is a must. At the same time, don’t overdo it with too many bells and whistles like cumbersome binding or meaningless illustrations.

So, what are you waiting for? Summon all your energy and say “Go…”

How to Write a Business Plan Efficiently

Learning how to write a business plan effectively is among the fundamentals that a businessman should do; especially if he is considering of setting up a new business. This business plan would serve as his road map which would guide his business toward success. It would also be the means of convincing individuals or institutions into investing in his business or loaning money. However, the process of business plan writing is oftentimes more important than the business plan itself. This is because such process focuses one’s thoughts, and dares him to answer several essential questions about his business. So, when he writes his business plan, his strategic foundation should be identified first. This strategic foundation would explain what type of firm he wants to establish, and what vital elements he needs to achieve that. Consequently, he should write down his vision. He should be able to describe clearly how he wants his company to be a few years into the future. His main products, as well as, his information on clients must be written down in details.

Next, he should be able to specify his financial goals. To earn profits is mostly why most people want to begin a business, anyway. So, he must know how to write a business plan that efficiently determines financial aspects. He should decide if he would keep his business small and simple, or if he would want to earn more by expanding his company. Then, he should envision his target market. However, he has to consider if his target market is large enough to let him achieve his financial goals. He should also think of their present and upcoming needs. To do this, he could interview several clients to know what their needs are. And then, he has to learn the attributes that compose ideal and awful clients. It is imperative to be ready of the possibility that these clients would turn up. So, he should know how to attract the best clients while knowing when to refuse others. He should write everything in complete details so he would not forget anything.

And once he already has a clear mental picture of his future company, he may then decide on his priorities. These priorities would be really helpful in achieving his goals, as well as, his visions. So, he has to ponder on how he would be able to serve his best clients better. It is very important to have a strong bond with good clients. He could review his list to identify which of his clients would be more likely to have a repeat business with him. Then, he should think of ways on how he could help them with their needs. Also, he should know how to write a business plan that gives details on how he could attract newer clients. Well, he could organize seminars or send out newsletters and articles. And with all these plans, he would soon be ready to face the challenges that his new business would bring.

Starting a Home Business – How to Write a Business Plan That Guides Your Success!

Writing a business plan isn’t optional just because you consider this simply a home business. You are a small business owner. A written business plan is required to secure finances or investors in your new home business. Starting a home business with your own funds and ideas doesn’t mean you don’t need a business plan.

A written business plan is critical to every home business. The thought process and research involved in writing your business plan will reveal the blue print for your home business.

There are numerous paid and free business plan products that you can use to develop your own home business plan. Unless you are seeking investors in your small business, you can learn how to write a business plan that keeps your business working toward your goals. To have a well written small business plan, you will find your goals easier to reach and keep track of your progress both with building your customer base and sales.

Starting a home business without a writing a well thought out business plan is like building a house without a blue print to guide you every step of the way.

Your home business foundation built on these eight areas will give your business a strong identity and focused sense of direction to help you plan and manage your business effectively.

#1) Business Summary.

Write out a description of your business. What kind of company do you want to build? A well written description or summary of your business often propels you through each step of how to write a business plan. Writing the summary first means you will always have the basic premise of your home business idea at the top of everything you put in your business plan.

#2) Name Your Business.

You may think that your direct sales business already has a company name but that is not the name of YOUR business. Creating a distinct name for your business will help make your plan. Does your business name reflect what you offer? Is it easy to remember? Does it have strong branding potential? Should you reconsider your current business name if it not working with your product? Make sure the name of your business fits not only your product or services but your mission statement.

#3) Itemize Your Products or Services.

Write out descriptions of your products; how do they look, smell, taste, feel or how your services will help others reach their own goals in life. How will your offerings improve the lives of others? Sort through why others aren’t already doing it and if they are offering exactly what you are going to offer then what prevents the competition from doing it better or more cheaply than you are.

#4) Mission Statement.

Your mission statement is a concise clear summary of the goals of your business. In your mission statement, you will define exactly what your business does, the products or services offered and what makes your business unique above the competition. Writing the bottom line of your business goals into your mission statement will guide the rest of your business plan.

#5) Business Assessment.

A major portion of your home business plan is a detailed assessment of four areas: your strengths, your weaknesses or limitations, business and marketing opportunities and threats or barriers to your potential success. At this stage of your business plan, you will be looking at your industry. Your work experience and talents that will add to your business would fall under your list of strengths. Your lack of knowledge or funds could be listed as your weaknesses. Take into account how broad your industry is when you are looking at your strengths and weaknesses. If you have little money for start up then you will need to be creative in your marketing and running your business. Will your weaknesses mean your opportunities for success are limited? Will your talent surpass your lack of funds?

Opportunities for business growth may be dependent on your networking contacts or website design. Every business owner should remain wary of all threats to business success. Planning for problems before they arise will make running a business easier and more successful in the long run. As you can see this aspect of business planning is critical to all of your vision, your mission statement, your goal setting and running your home business.

#6) Goal Setting.

Write your vision for your business. Be specific. You can revise this as your goals and mission changes. How do you envision your business a year from now then five years from now? Write out your goals and objectives. Break down each product or service into their own set of goals. Plan for expansion as your business evolves.

Goals are useless unless you can measure your progress towards them and plan to regularly assess which goals have been met or still need to be fulfilled. Make your goals specific and time sensitive. With each business goal, itemize what needs to be in place to reach each of your goals. Outline what steps you will take to reach the goals for your home business. Mark your calendar when its time to re-evaluate your goals and re-align your vision for your business to match the direction your business is going.

Celebrate when you reach your goals and regroup when you realize you missed the mark. It’s important to decide what you consider to be a major loss and what you will accept as unsuccessful. Knowing what you will accept and absorb as a business loss before it happens will help prepare you for when it actually happens.

#7) Target Market.

Research your desired target market. Identify who you expect to buy your products or services. Write a profile of your average customer. You need to know your target before you are able to aim. Study your potential customer’s behavior. Where do they shop? What do they read? Do they move in specific social circles? Who wants or needs your business? Who will benefit from your product? What type of people will find your business a necessity?

You cannot expect to fill a need or desire of a customer if you do not know what makes your offer unique and necessary. Look at those that offer similar products with success. Write out how you can rise above and differentiate yourself from the competition. At this stage of your business plan, describe how you can stand out from the crowd. Write down how and why your company is better than the competition. Study the competitions latest marketing strategies then outline here how you plan to counteract their business moves to give you the edge you need to stay unique and effective.

While studying your customers and competition, take the extra time to identify complementary products or services that may fit your current business plan that may give the edge you need to compete in the future.

#8) Sales and Marketing Strategies.

How will anyone know your business exists? What steps will you take to make your business known? How will your customers find you? What can you do to ensure that you attract the customers you seek? How will you track your efforts? How much money do you have to put these strategies in place?

List your strategies – press release, printed catalogs, business cards, open house, craft fairs, business, conventions, virtual expos, sales letters, etc.

Determine whether you will market exclusively online, locally to your warm market or a combination of both. If online marketing is part of your business plan then include an internet marketing plan to include your domain name and host, whether you will hire a professional website designer or do it yourself, your business logo and e-commerce set up.

#9) Business Start Up.

Determine what equipment and services you will need to run your business to include setting up your home office, equipment, supplies, product inventory, customer record keeping, and book keeping. Create a checklist of professionals you need to secure for legal and financial advice, advertising expertise, office assistance or tax expertise.

Starting a home business can be exciting and scary because it is Your dream that you are working towards with each work day. To write a business plan, means a great deal of commitment to the process. The process of writing a business plan will bring you closer to understanding yourself, your business goals, your company identity and reaching your potential customers.

Although these areas are critical to writing a business plan, there is much more that will be added to your plan over time. Each time you reach a goal or discover a barrier to making the sale ~ you will return to your business plan and revise your goals, strategies and techniques.

Business success is in the plan and implementation but also in the ability to adjust and redefine your business goals to meet your customers need or desire while letting you design your home business your way!