5 things your business plan must have

Ron Pearson

When you’re getting started, it’s important to set out your intentions for your company, but also to inject some of your personality as a (small) business owner into your plan.

Your business plan will take you time and thought – and that’s a good thing when aiming for successful business planning.

Nail what you’ve set out to do in the introduction to keep your reader or audience interested. For example, include a small section to ‘meet the team’, so people can connect with the personal side of your company. Little touches like this make a difference.

1. Your intentions laid out clearly - a cornerstone of successfull business planning

Think of this as your elevator pitch. Communicate exactly what you’re doing – concise and direct language is a must for small business owners when defining their intentions. Tell your audience what your business does, how it’s going to make a profit, and why people will need or want to pay for your offerings.

At times you might realize you need to edit or reevaluate your chosen path and business plan template, but this is a good thing. Adapting to what the market demands will mean you can be agile from the off – and that’s a valuable trait to have in a small business. You’ll learn about what you want your business to be, and how consumers need it to be.

2. Market opportunity/industry analysis for businesses

You must research your industry and market. Don’t focus solely on your own ideas when you’re creating your business plan, rather look at everything you can find that’s similar to your idea. Knowing your place amongst the rest of the companies in your industry means you can secure your place in it all. Work out what makes your business unique compared to others – this is your unique selling point.

Investigate the personal interests of your customers to gain insight into what will really speak to them. You also need to work out what the competition is all about: who they are, what they offer, how much they charge, how well-known they are, and if their reputation is squeaky clean or not. Then you can set about to beat them.

3. An operational  (business) plan for (small) business owners

In this section of your plan, you’re explaining how you’re going to make your ideas and dreams a reality. This is where you answer any questions investors or similar will have. You’ve outlined what you’re goals are in your intentions, but it’s this section that needs you to fill in the gaps.

Ask yourself objectively if you’d buy into your business. Try presenting your plan in front of trusted (preferably business-savvy) friends and family, as they’re going to spot holes in what you’re saying and can help you add the missing information.

4. Where your funding is coming from

You’ve probably already put a lot of your own money into your venture, believing the risk will pay off. Don’t hide this fact – shout about the fact you believe so much in your business that you’re prepared to put your life savings into it.

One option is to get seed funding. It’s the earliest funding that you may be able to attract into your startup and is usually a low figure as your business is still in the conceptual phase.

5. Granular forecasting and scenario planning

When you’re building your business plan, you need a strong idea of where your cash is and where it will be in the near future. Use your budget, sales forecast, and cash flow forecast as part of your roadmap, right from the startup level. Working your cash flow into your business plan will make potential investors understand how successful you may be.

Share all of this information with your team so you know everyone’s working towards the same goals. Implementing KPIs for small businesses allows each and every person aware of their responsibilities and targets as individuals and as a team. To find out more about KPIs, have a look at our beginner’s guide.

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