Writing a business plan for the first time can quickly become overwhelming, stressful, and frustrating in general. It is very easy to simply throw in the towel and search for alternative options. However, since a well-developed business plan is an essential element that cannot be substituted, there are several great tips that you can follow to lighten the load and develop one successfully.
Research Other Completed Plans First
Before you even think about creating your own business plan, it is highly recommended for you to first research a wide variety of sample business plans that have already been developed by others. Thanks to the Internet, this step can easily be completed with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks on your favorite search engine. Study the strengths and weaknesses of each sample that you observe, especially the ones that have been developed by other brands within your respective industry or market. Doing so will make it much easier for you to get a better idea of what kind of plan you should be developing.
Do Not Use Words Excessively
When an inexperienced business owner might think of a business plan, he or she might think of a large packet of paper filled with thousands of words that is similar in size and structure to a textbook or even a dictionary. This is a misconception that you need to clear from your mind as soon as possible. The objective when creating a business plan is to say everything that you need to say in as few words as possible. The last thing you want to do is waste words just to lengthen your plan, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, because that will defeat the purpose and rob your entire plan of its efficiency and quality. The investors who will be reading your plan are busy people with many other things to do besides read a book on why your business should get funding. They will appreciate it if you keep it concise.
Every Plan Is Just a Draft
You should never fall into the trap of believing that your business plan is permanently etched in stone when it is first developed. That can actually cause you to lose focus, drive, and overall growth in a relatively short period of time. If you adopt the mentality that every single plan you create is just a draft, this will help you to remember that periodic revisions and updates will always be required. When studying sample business plans, you may even find some that have been changed and revised over time. Pay close attention to the changes that were made and find ways to change your own plan in order to make it more accurate, clear, concise, and efficient. Always remember that as your business changes, your plan should change as well, according to the Huffington Post.
Use the Executive Summary as a Foundation
The primary foundation and basic outline of your business plan should be the executive summary, which is clearly visible at the very beginning of your overall plan. Directly after your title page and table of contents, the executive summary needs to come right behind it. There’s no beating around the bush when it comes to the executive summary. You need to clearly come out and state what you want from the people who will be reading it, according to the Huffington Post. Your executive summary should be considered an effective tool to immediately capture the attention of your target audience to pique their curiosity and compel them to read more about your company, strategies and overall action plan. This can highlight how your business is differentiated in the market in which it competes.
In addition to your business name and physical location, the executive summary should cover your products and/or services, mission statement, as well as the target objective of your actual business plan. This is sort of an abbreviated version of what the reader will see when checking out the rest of the business plan. For example, you may have developed your plan to simply create a strategic plan to follow. On the other hand, you might need this plan to secure a number of financial investors. Whatever your reason for creating the plan, make sure you remember the above advice and keep it concise and to the point. The Huffington Post recommends that your executive summary should not be more than one page long.
Take time to study sample business plans and pay attention to the target objectives and mission statements that are outlined within their respective executive summaries. This will help you find your jumping off point and give you a clear pattern to follow. You want to make sure to use direct, powerful language that will have an impact on the reader, and hopefully convince him or her to continue reading past your executive summary and invest in your business.