A business plan serves a number of purposes. It allows you to evaluate your operating efficiency and determine where adjustments need to be made. It is particularly important for new businesses that are still tinkering with their operations and formulating the best method for maximizing profit margins.
Even for established companies, business plans can be utilized to introduce new ideas, and analyze whether they will be successful before making a large investment in the process. Here are 5 tips to writing a killer business plan:
1. Tailor the Format
The tone and format of the business plan must be tailored to fit the audience. For example, if your goal is to obtain funding for a project, your plan should be very detailed with regard to risk assessment and cost, with realistic estimates, charts, and numbers.
If your proposal is to a non-profit organization, consider the impact on the community or environment and what effect it will have on the existing business.
The reliability of your business plan often depends on the quality of your references and statistics. While the internet provides a wealth of resources from which to glean information, it does not carry the same credibility as more established sources.
Citing publications relevant to your industry will give more weight to your proposal as well as demonstrate the diligence with which you created it. Make a detailed bibliography to ensure that you are not infringing on any copyrighted material.
A solid business plan requires comprehensive research. This includes a full evaluation of your competitors, a detailed definition of your business strategy, and an evaluation of the current and future demand for your product or services.
Mapping out the opportunities and potential obstacles for your business will help you understand whether it can survive in the long term.
4. Business Plan Templates
Once you have gathered a plethora of reference material and market research, it is time to conflate them into a layout that will highlight the data and statistical analysis.
As each business plan is different and catered to a specific audience, creating a layout is not as simple as mimicking another business plan’s format.
However, there are many business plan templates that you can use as a basic foundation for organizing your data, which you can alter and tweak to make it more suitable for your audience.
Many online services offer business plan templates that already include sample headings and various categories that can be replaced without altering the layout. Break-even analysis templates are available to help determine the risk of investment.
Ultimately, the layout is not as important as your idea and the statistical data that proves it is financially sound. Employing a business plan template will save you time on the formatting and allow you to concentrate on marketing your business proposal.
Even after finishing your business plan, it never hurts to seek out feedback before presenting it to a panel or board of directors.
Visit a local university and ask the advice of economic professors, or visit a trade show where industry experts will be on hand.
Having a fresh set of eyes take a look at your plan may provide insight and feedback that you may not have considered, or simply reinforce the fact that your business plan is solid and ready to present.