Your Business Plan Checklist:
- The Executive Summary
- The Vision
- The Market and Marketing
- Your customers
- Your competitors
- How are you going to operate your business?
- Your people
- The Finances
The Executive Summary
This is actually the most important part of your business plan, because this is where you can either capture the reader’s attention, persuade them to carry on reading, or stop in their track. So please, please pay attention to this section of your plan!
The Executive summary needs to be fairly brief, so about two side of A4 paper maximum and contains a synopsis of your business plan. Give the reader a simple and clear introduction, or you can start with an elevator pitch. What is an elevator pitch? Well that is your entire business proposition in a single sentence. If you can write tweets at 140 characters, then you can write an elevator pitch, so be creative.
You can give a brief outline of the product you offer, why customers would buy it, what problems does your product/service solve? Explain your vision to your reader and show them what direction you wish to go and how long it will take to get there.
You may find that it is easier to write the Executive summary last.
This is where you can explain to the reader about how you thought up the business, how it started, what is going on now and what are the future directions.
Importantly, you need to provide a succinct description of its unique selling points. What is that I hear you ask? In a nutshell, a unique selling point (also known as USP) tells the reader why your product or service is different than anything else provided by your competitors. Then you need to explain what problems your product/service will solve, and why your customers will want to spend their hard earned money on it.
Tell your reader what stage your business is at now, and what your plans are for the future. So are you looking for world domination within 3 years or 5?
Finally, how is your business setup, legally? Are you a sole trader, limited company, or partnership, and will this change?
The Market and Marketing
This is where you showcase your extensive knowledge of the market in which you wish to operate. For example what is the size of this market, what are the conditions and where you do fit in? For example, you wish to sell ink pens, size of market globally could be £5 billion, and you are uniquely selling ink pens with invisible ink! You get the drift?
So, now you have a unique product, you need to explain to your reader how you will market and sell to your customers. Describe your marketing strategy and the channels you will use to reach your customers, such as social media, advertising in newspapers, physical billboards.
Also describe your sales plan, such as pricing, and do you sell online, in a shop, on a market stall etc.
It is important to show that you know your customers well, such as what is their age, gender, where they live, interest etc. So you can write a profile of the ideal customer/s.
You also need to analyse and describe your competitors. Create something called SWOT analyses for each main competitor in your market. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, Threat. This is a really good process to work through, as you can learn a lot about your competitors while at the same time, helping to hone your own unique selling point.
How are you going to operate the business?
This section is where you show your understanding and control of the nitty gritty of running the operations of the business.
There needs to be description of tools, equipments, materials that you will need and in the future. Where you will source these items and their cost.
Which location are you situated in now? Will you need something bigger and how much could this cost.
Also, provide details of any management or control systems: how will you control stock, business information, and supplies? Evaluate your chosen method, including any weaknesses and possible improvements.
Your business will most likely be subject to legal implications, so outline any health & safety information that is particularly relevant, and whether you need any licences. It may sound really dull, but it’s really important.
One of the most important element of a business is the people in your team, they do make or break the business, so describe your team and their functions in the company.
Write a profile of each of the management team, detailing their current position, their experience and achievements and how they will contribute to your business.
If you also have outsourced help do include them as well.
Crunching numbers is not exactly an entrepreneur’s dream, but if you don’t show you can add up or understand cashflow, your reader and potential investors will lack faith in you to make the business a success. If you are unsure of how to do this part, try to work with an accountant as they can help you to make sense of it all.
The first section needs to show the daily running costs of the company such as office rent, wages, cost of materials. Try to be specific or even overestimate cost, so you don’t have a nasty surprise.
The second section needs to show the forecasts for sales, profit and loss and your cashflow. Try to work out at least 3-5 years forecast. It is likely that you will be not making profit for a while, so do try to show when you can break even. It is easy to fudge this section, or try to over exaggerate your sales and profit, but try not to, as some investors are astute at reading figures and will suss you out quickly. Be optimistic, and honest.
Also include any funding that you need, and how you aim to get it, and bank loans. If you’re looking for investment, outline what investors will get in return, the split of existing shareholding, and the justification behind your decisions.
The Writing Bit
Your business plan is your tool to sell your business to the reader or investor, so there some very obvious things to remember! Here they are:
- Plan must be well written, with good English, no incorrect spelling. Check and double check to make sure all correct.
- Keep it simple stupid. Write in a succinct manner, so one word to describe something is better than 3 words of waffle.
- Avoid technical jargon, as your readers may not be in your industry so will not understand. If some technical terms are necessary to describe your product or service, do explain them.
- Don’t make your plan boring, it is a selling tool as well. Show your knowledge, but also show your personality and passion for the business.
- Visual graphs or charts can also explain better than words, so do include them in your plan, but don’t overdo it.
- Finally, you’ll also need to think about how you’ll present this – will it be read entirely from a Word document, or from a PowerPoint presentation? Can you include a mix of the two?
Good luck with your business plan writing! If you need any help, give us a call. Our team at Kudos PA offers virtual assistance in secretarial services, administration, marketing, blogging, research and so much more. We love business, and want to support you to be an entrepreneur! Give us a call if you need any help or just want to chat on 07875108255.
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