Writing a Business Plan – Everything You Need to Know

Writing a business plan is your key to getting a successful business running. Whether you are on the hunt for funding or just setting up for the year ahead, your business plan should be the basis of your operations. It’s worth making sure it is up to scratch. Writing a business plan is all about details and the more you lay out how you plan to get from A to B, the more likely you are to get there. You will also be more likely to get others to join you on the way. Before you get started, you should really make sure you have some information to help you in writing your business plan. Get a hold of your market research, a SWOT analysis and your mission statement to help. You will also need your current financial information to hand. This will all come together to form a clear path for your business to follow. Read on to see how you should put it together.  

Show What You Are All About

Start out on writing a business plan with the basics. What is your business and what do you hope to sell? This is as much for you and your team’s benefit as it is for anyone you hope to conduct your business with. Your mission statement and your USP should play a part of this section. Including a history of your business to date or of your history in business is an easy way of qualifying your plans and showing your successes up to this point. You should also include details of your company’s ownership structure for the benefit of investors. You then want to detail your products and services. Your SWOT Analysis will be invaluable in helping you here. Point out what makes them stand out from competing products and how customers will benefit from them. You should also take some time to detail how your products and services can develop over the period of the plan to meet changes in the market and in customer needs. Highlighting where you can improve and where your weaknesses lie is no bad thing either. It shows good awareness and a sense of your limitations that will earn trust and respect from outside parties.  

Take Stock of What You Have to Work With

Having a clear picture of what you have to work with is one of the key reasons for writing a business plan. Any action you attempt will only succeed if you have the manpower and resources to cope with the task. Include details on your management team and what they offer your business in terms of their workload and skills. Outside parties will want to know that you have skilled and experienced people in vital roles that are committed to the work they do. Show off these assets and ensure you cover how you will be addressing current weaknesses going forward. You should also explain your operational facilities and how they help your company. Explain the resources that you currently have and what you will need to meet the plan, including staff numbers. If you have outside suppliers, clarify how you have sourced them. If you are looking for new suppliers, make sure you factor in the possible restrictions that will arise from finding them. These limitations will have an effect on your business and making sure they are accounted for early will allow you to rectify them in your later actions.  

Know What You Are Facing

You should have an idea of the likely market you and your products will be entering.. Without proof of a viable market to support your targets and plans, you will find it difficult to get others on board with your plans. This is why effective market research is so necessary for your business. Highlight the specific sections of the market you are aiming to target. Identify the size of each demographic and how that has changed recently. Point out the particular needs of each section and how these have changed and are likely to change over the course of your plan. You also need to cover the competition you will face in these markets. List the positives and negatives of each competing product and explain why customers will choose your product over the competition. You also need to show knowledge of your competitors’ reactions to losing business. If you know this then you can plan to react to it when it happens.  

How Do You Plan on Getting Success

The biggest and key part of writing a business plan. Detailing how you will go about meeting your goals. This goes hand in hand with your marketing plan in helping to influence the decisions you make and the work your business does for the span of this plan. By working on the points raised in the rest of your planning, you will put together the steps you need to take to successfully grow. Essentially, this section addresses what you learned in your market research. Your aim should be to explain how you will use that information to progress your business. Explain how you intend to promote your product in relation to your customers and your competitors. Detail the sales and marketing techniques you will be looking to use for your target audiences in order to reach your goals. Support this with the takings and profits you expect from each section. Start by highlighting who your customers will be and where the sales will come from. The rest of this section should be a rundown of the stages and campaigns you will be running to successfully boost your takings from your market. This needs to be clear enough to guide your business through the time ahead.  

Analyse Your Finances

Money is always going to be a factor in judging your business’ success. Your goals are probably based on making certain amounts. The interest of investors is dependent on how much they will be able to make back from their money. Your product changes will require money to carry out. Detailing your financial expectations and needs may be one of the last things you look at when writing a business plan but it will be essential for justifying everything else in the plan. You should not just cover what you hope to take in terms of sales and cash flow. You also need to explore the likely costs of your projects. You also need to clarify the finance you will need from extra sources, what the money will be for and at which point this money will be needed. This section is also where you need to explore the possible risks you will face from following this plan. Showing that you know where things could go wrong and that you have an idea of how you can counter these risks will provide reassurance.  

Finishing Up

Once you have finished writing your business plan, you should then put together an overall executive summary to open your plan document. The function of this summary is to briefly outline your proposal to outside parties. It should focus on the most important points of the document. Namely:  
  • Your product/service and its unique selling points
  • Your market opportunities
  • The management team
  • Your previous record
  • Financial projections for the span of the proposal
  • What finance you will need and the returns you expect from it
  You will then have a completed business plan. Include relevant information from your research as appendices to back up your proposal and you will have a document certain to convince customers, investors and your own team that you are on the right track to success.