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7 steps to a practical, powerful business plan

by Josephine Wawira
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“A business plan is a written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement.” (Entrepreneur – https://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/business-plan)

Every business desires a detailed written business plan to deliver direction, attract investors, and drive growth. But where do you start? And what should your business plan contain?

What a good business plan includes

There’s a standard format for a business plan that ensures you cover every eventuality and join all the dots:

  • An executive summary, effectively a snapshot of the plan that you can understand quickly at a glance
  • A clear, short description of exactly what the business does, a great way to help you pin down your core functionality
  • A market analysis, examining the industry, market, and your main online and offline competitors.
  • A formalised organisational / management structure
  • Details about your products and / or services
  • Your marketing and sales strategies and tactics
  • Funding requirements – will you need funding in the next up to 5 years and if so, how much and why?
  • Financial projections including balance sheets and accounts

Build a brilliant business plan in just 7 steps

1. Research… then research more!

Unless you know exactly what you’re selling, to whom, when, and how, your business plan won’t be meaningful. Without all the facts present,  you can’t make informed, intelligent decisions, nor gain the interest of your investors and shareholders. Unless you have a rock-solid, intimate appreciation of your company, your product, your competitors, and the market you operate in, your plan will never really hit the right mark. Spend twice as much time researching, evaluating, and thinking than you’ve done before as you go about writing your plan and you’ll feel the benefit.

Read everything you can find about the landscape you operate in. Talk to your audience. If you’re entering a less familiar market, e.g. the Middle East, unacquainted with their mentality, society, culture and business approaches, you’ll need to research even more carefully. When you use a reliable business directory in UAE or a good Saudi Arabia business directory you’ll get valuable insights on doing business in those countries, and you’ll end up with the right level of knowledge.

2. Define your plan’s goals

A business plan has different purposes. It can act as a solid road map of directions that help plan the future. But if you want to attract investors you will need to specifically target them and their needs. What you say depends entirely on the purpose. Define your goals upfront and your entire plan will hang together much better and make a lot more sense.

3. Build an accurate company profile

A company profile provides all sorts of essential insight including where you’ve come from – the history of your organisation – plus your products or services you offer, your target audience and market/s, the resources that’ll help achieve your goals, how you’re going to solve the issues that stand in your way, and last but not least why you’re better placed to deliver than competitors – in other words, what makes your business unique. If you have a business profile on the company website, that’s a clue – it’s exactly that kind of thing you’ll want to include to inform your business plan.

4. Document absolutely everything

Investors want to make money from your business. They need to know it all.  So make sure everything relevant is properly documented, including expenses and cash flows, projections, licensing agreements and location strategy, everything they could need to know.

5. Lead with a strategic marketing plan

You can’t create a good business plan without considering marketing. That’s why all good business plans include a fairly aggressive marketing plan rich in objectives:

  • Create and launch new products
  • Extend markets for existing products and develop new ones
  • Grab back lost market share for existing products
  • Increase sales of a specific product or price range
  • Increase sales to a specific market or audience
  • Cross-sell, bundle and up-sell more products to existing customers
  • Set up new contracts with new customers
  • Raise prices without affecting conversion rates
  • Refine and improve current products
  • Specify content marketing tactics
  • Improve manufacturing quality
  • Improve delivery speed and efficiency

Once you’ve formalised all these activities, you need to allocate an appropriate budget for each of them.

6. Make sure your plan isn’t too rigid – Build flexibility in

A variety of people will find themselves reading your business plan. It could be potential investors and lenders, venture capitalists, employees, and your Board of Directors. Each group has its special focus and interests. If you can identify their different points of view from the start you can make sure the plan pleases everyone, giving them all exactly what they need. Lenders, for example, will probably be more interested in balance sheets and accounts, while investors and venture capitalists will examine your overall concept, the project’s potential, and look carefully at your management team. When you want to make the biggest and best impression your plan has to be flexible, customizable as the audience demands.

7. Passion and dedication

Passion matters. Dedication and determination matter. It matters that you care because that means you’ll do everything in your power to succeed. This section can include the mistakes you’ve learned from the issues you’ve resolved, your values, and why your business, in particular, offers the best solutions. When you build a powerful emotional connection they’ll be more likely to keep supporting your plans.

Now, how’s your business looking? Isn’t it amazing that you’ve found out how to build a good business plan? Yet one more thing to take note of. The events of 2020 showed that businesses’ strong parts are not as strong, and put an emphasis on the weaknesses. If you draft your business plan in the way that would prove that you can survive and thrive during these uneasy times, while including step by step measure to take for various-case scenarios, you’ll definitely gain the trust of your investors. Acting according to such a business plan, you’ll see your business flourish during the better times to come.

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