7 Tips for Writing a Business Plan
No matter what industry you are in, if you want to scale your business you’ll need a business plan. While most people think of a business plan as something to help you start a new endeavor, it’s actually a living document that you’ll revisit and update again and again. Moreover, if you’re looking to apply for funding, most investors will want to see a business plan before they even consider writing a check. Since it’s such an important document, you’ll want to make sure you put your best foot forward. Here are 7 tips for writing a business plan that makes you — and your business — look good:
1. Talk about what makes your business special.
Arguably, the most important element of your business marketing plan is the “wow” factor. What is it that sets you apart from the competition? If you can articulate this easily and in a compelling way, investors will be much more likely to stay engaged throughout your business plan — and to want to work with you.
2. Do your research.
Part of knowing what makes you special is knowing the competition. How do you compare to what’s out there? If your service or product costs more, why? Is there a unique problem that you can solve or a market that only you can reach? Knowing your competition is a critical part of preparing your business for a successful launch or growth.
3. Familiarize yourself with the lingo.
It’s important to know the terms that are specific to your industry — colleagues and experts may look for this as a sign that you have the expertise to be successful. However, there’s lingo specific to the world of business plans too. Financial institutions and potential investors may use terms like “barriers to entry,” “value proposition,” and “cost structure.” You’ll want to get comfortable with the jargon so you’re not caught off guard.
4. Have a trusted friend or mentor look it over.
You’re already familiar with your business, so you won’t have the ability to listen with a beginner’s ear. A friend or mentor can give you an idea of how it reads to an outside listener. They can tell you whether you need to have more information and even catch a rogue comma or two before you hand off that final draft.
5. Use clear, concise language.
While a business plan is an important part of a marketing strategy, it’s not designed to sell. You don’t have to use overly flowery language or lots of words to persuade your readers. Keep to the facts of what they need to know in order to tell if your business is viable. Otherwise, they may mistake your efforts to sway them as a lack of substance. A business plan template can help you stay on track.
6. Think both short-term and long-term.
In order to be in business, you have to stay in business. A good business plan will have strategies for how to manage the tenuous early-growth phase as well as demonstrate potential for long-term growth. Even if you’re sure that you’ve got the best business idea in the world, it pays to be conservative with your financial projections. This is especially true if you’re borrowing money.
7. Keep it up-to-date.
As we mentioned, your business plan is a continually evolving document. As your vision, circumstances, revenue, sales, and plans change, you’ll do well to keep it up-to-date. Although a business plan is critical in applying for funding, it’s also a powerful tool to help you strategize and prepare for the future of your business.