It goes without saying that, if you want to unveil and grow a business, you will have to put a few words on the page, (probably more than a few). Writing a Business Plan is perhaps the most essential, albeit the most difficult task you need to get done, once you are pretty serious that you are going to own a business.
I will discuss it elaborately later on, but Business Plans, to put it briefly and simplistically, require strategy and vision. It is your only chance to make a strong start in the already competitive market. Write a Business Plan that banks cannot resist! Write a Business Plan that makes your friendly neighborhood rivals shake in the boots (okay, maybe at least consider you as the new shark in the waters!).
Now on a more serious note, the question arises as to how am I going to write that one BP that is going to change my life as well as the future of my business?
Well, to be completely honest, you cannot wake up one fine morning and write yourself a perfect little Business Plan that gets you everything you wish for, it does not work that way. It needs patience, forethought, and more importantly a lot of confidence in yourself.
So, I will start with the ‘building confidence’ thing and then move on to the “biz talk”.
LOSING THE “I CAN’T WRITE” ANXIETY
Do you have that dreadful “I am not a writer” syndrome? Do you feel like you know all the right words, but those are always in your head and you cannot translate those onto paper? Do you get major anxiety before writing down your thoughts? Congratulations! You have come to the right place.
- If you are someone, perpetually stuck in a Writers’ Block, the first thing you need to believe is that anyone can write! Yes, I get that your writing will not hold a candle to that of Plath or Hemingway, but nobody expects you to be an actual great writer when you write a Business Plan. Tell yourself over and over, “I am absolutely capable of writing this myself” until you believe it!
- Like I previously said, nobody expects you to be a great writer, so don’t fret too much about the perfect words. In fact, do not wait for the perfect words. Start somewhere. As they say, writing is like cleaning a messy room, you start from a small corner and eventually, you get the whole room cleaned.
- Start with writing disjointed notes, you can always revise later. Use short, smart, personal language. Speaking from experience, once you have completed your first draft, it gives you a lot of confidence which helps you churn out an impressive final product.
- Most importantly, as you sit down to write a pitch deck, make sure you have done research to the core that helps you to convey exactly what you want to. (And then, get off the internet and begin writing!)
Now, another compelling question for you must be, “What exactly is a Business Plan and what do I write in it?” Well, hold on, that is what I am going to talk about here.
WHAT IS A BUSINESS PLAN?
Like I previously hinted at, a Business Plan is a written portrayal of the present status of your business, your aspiration for your business’s future, a document that helps you to get your thoughts organized, sets your business goals and tells you how you plan to achieve it, and why you need support from some other people, and how and how much. Business plans differ in size and scope depending on the type of businesses involved as well as the operating history of the small business.
Business plans are innately planned. You start today, with certain capitals and skills, from POINT A. You want to get to POINT B, a point in the near future when your business will have a different set of capitals and skills along with increased exposure and maximum equity. Your plan shows how you aspire to reach from POINT A to POINT B.
CHOOSING THE AUDIENCE
Before you even commence writing a business plan, you should choose who it will be targeted at. Business plans are of two types, externally focused and internally focused. When I assert “externally focused”, I mean it should entice advertisers, investors, money-lenders, and maybe collaborators, people outside of your company.
And when I say “internally focused”, that means it should aim the people inside the company (e.g. Employees or Managers), people who must understand and share your vision and aspiration. Understanding the target audience of your business plan will help you keep the plan relevant and efficient.
KNOWING THE MARKET AND USING BUSINESS ANALYSIS
By analyzing your business by different methods, you discover various internal and external aspects, which might have been overlooked. PEST, SWOT, and STEEPLE are some of the analysis, that will help you to understand and find the missing link in the market. A thorough competitive analysis narrows down your research and helps you understand about the market you want to tap in. It also gives you a measure of the scalability of your business and market share of your products.
Tech field is viciously competitive, as you already know, and you have to be specific and unique about what you are actually selling and how are you solving a “need” for your market.
WRITING AN EXECUTIVE START-UP SUMMARY
- Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. The summary should tell the reader in brief about what you are going to elaborately say later on in the plan.
- Talk about your total start-up expense (including legal costs, website and logo design, stationery and related expenses).
- Include the approximated numbers for a total start up funding, total funding required, total assets, total capital and liabilities, and total planned investment.
You can add a company overview to the summary or you can keep it separate. For a company overview, you write a short description of your company, a review of your company’s legal structure and ownership (Are you a sole proprietor? Or are you in partnership?), a brief history of the company if it is an existing company and a summary of the business location.
BEING REALISTIC, GOAL-ORIENTED AND KNOWING YOUR WEAKNESS AND STRENGTH
A good business plan depends on realism.
You don’t get points for ideas that can’t be implemented. For example, a brilliantly written and excellently researched business plan for a product that cannot be produced in reality is not a good business plan.
It is disheartening for your workers, and you want to make sure your employees do not lose faith in you. The plan which requires millions of dollars of investment, but does not have an efficient management team that can actually achieve that investment, ultimately becomes a joke.
Ask yourself, as you evaluate a business plan: how will I know later on if we followed the plan? How will I track the results over a predetermined time frame and compare them against the plan? Let me tell you this, if you fail to give manifestation to what you promised, you will lose both external and internal commitments.
Engage with your audience.
Maybe, write a short, personal anecdote about why you decided to launch this particular business, what you expect from your employees and how you plan to treat them and manage the business; what you expect from the investors and how you plan to serve them, or how you plan to serve the consumers.
You have to be extremely convinced about your goal that you want to reach, make no mistake.
- Know your strength and weakness, and be frank and honest about it. Focus on your strength, talk about the quality and efficiency of yourself and your employees, and don’t be shy about your weakness, which for most tech-based business start ups, is the fund (or the lack thereof).
- Include your plans for tasks, deadlines, dates, forecasts, budgets, and metrics.
Here are few resources that can help you to get started with your Business Plan and fine tune the existing one:
- Small Business Plan Template
- Writing a Business Plan
- Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Business Plan
- How to Build Billion Dollar Business Plan
At the end, I will say that you better accept the fact that all businesses have competition. The more attractive you make your business plan, the closer you are to success. Make baby steps, and try not to get disheartened even when you face rejections. Make one small victory your stone number one and build on it. Good luck for the adventures in 2017!
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