How to write a business plan? In other words, how to identify opportunities, competition, and potential customers? Many entrepreneurs may think that writing a business plan is a tedious task and it must contain hundreds of pages.
On the contrary, it should be concise, but provide all the information relevant to the business. While there are no hard and fast rules for writing an effective business plan, it needs to demonstrate that you have the motivation, skills, competencies, and confidence to lead the business.
Let’s look over some principal steps to follow when writing a business plan.
Please do not go too fast in writing a business plan! The very first step is to make sure you really want to start a business in the short term.
They say it is important to separate the business plan approach from that of launching a business. You will know that this moment has come when you have progressed on the following four axes: (1) awareness of your entrepreneurial profile, (2) a clear business idea, (3) intrinsic motivation related to the project and (4) a capacity for action.
At this stage, the goal is to understand what you are getting into. Will the drafting process be long? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What resources and help will you need?
At first, take a look at all sections of the business plan. Take the time to understand what a business plan is all about. This step should take you one or two days. Simply integrate the structure of the business plan at your own pace. Take small notes on your observations, your surprises or your questions.
This time, you will actually start writing your business plan. One of the important section is Market Research. This part of the business plan will allow you to explore your industry and your business sector and above all, better understand the business opportunity you face.
This step has four objectives: (1) to record, in one place, everything you already know about your business sector, (2) to highlight what you need to learn before starting your business, (3) analyze all the results and (4) clearly formulate the business opportunity you want to tackle. Once you understand your market, you can move on.
So, do you have a business opportunity? The million dollar question: Is it viable? At this point, you need to make sure that the opportunity you are looking for is worth it.
So, you need to start by defining the viable business model that could potentially support this opportunity. To avoid writing a complete business plan for an unsustainable business, complete only one template at this stage.
In concrete terms, how will you achieve the business model you developed in the previous step? What resources do you need? How will your company achieve its mission? How will it attract customers?
We have come to triple planning. Why triple? Because you will need to plan three aspects of your business: (1) operations, (2) marketing, and (3) finance. Then, because you will have to plan these aspects according to the three logical levels: (1) strategic, (2) tactical and (3) operational.
It is at this stage that you will be able to complete sections as Operations, Marketing, and Finance. These sections must be worked in parallel in a spirit of global planning.
For example, if you choose to advertise Facebook, it will have an impact on your marketing calendar (Marketing Section), but also on your daily activities and your human resources (Operations Section) and finally, on your start-up costs and of operation (Finance Section).
In this step, it is important to think over and create your business visual identity. As it will not only differentiate you from your competitors but also help to attract more customers making your project memorable. Plus, visitors, future customers or future “fans” must identify you quickly and easily.
But, notice that it’s not as difficult to create it as it seems to be. There are lots of online services, for example, Logaster, that will help you to have this step done. Moreover, Logaster offers a free small-sized logo, so you have the possibility to edit your brand products whenever you need to and after downloading to have a look how it fits to your site, social page etc.
If everything is fine, you can also buy one of the plans with social media brand kits, business cards etc.
Now is the time to go back to the beginning. Does it seem odd to you to write the first sections at the end? Many entrepreneurs are surprised by this practice. Yet it is crucial to do so. But they bring together the essence of your business project. They show all the work that you have done in the other sections.
In a few pages, you will now convince the potential investor that you have in hand a solid offer, ready to market and above all, that is worth the investment. This step is the culmination of your business plan, but it is also a natural transition to the next step in writing the business plan: seeking funding.
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