A good strategy is essential in business. The old adage “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” rings true here. Without a solid business plan in place, the path to realising your vision and goals will be rocky, and your firm’s future uncertain.
Ultimately, your plan is your blueprint to success, and it’s especially important if you want to scale your business or attract funding from banks or investors. Here’s how to create an excellent business plan.
1) The executive summary
Your executive summary delves into the heart of your business, providing stakeholders and investors with a high-level overview including your business concept, goals and financials.
When you’re writing your executive summary, think about what makes your business stand out from the crowd. Are you offering a cutting-edge technology solution, or addressing a gap in the market?
Whatever your unique selling point is, this section should detail how your business is poised for success.
While your executive summary will usually sit at the top of your business plan, you may find it easier to write it after completing the other sections.
2: The business description
Your business description will provide a comprehensive explanation of who you are and what your business does. That means going into detail about your business model and its structure, as well as any background information, mission and goals for the future.
As your core team plays a pivotal role in your business, you should also shed light on the key personnel involved. Outline their roles, qualifications and the unique strengths each team member and co-founder brings to the table. You should also include their salaries and any dividend payments.
Finally, no business description is complete without an in-depth look at products or services. Describe your offering, focusing not just on features but also on the tangible benefits for potential clients or consumers.
3: Market analysis
Demonstrating your grasp of the market landscape is non-negotiable. Who are the big players? What’s the market size, and what are any shifts or trends that affect your business?
You’ll need to show how you intend to navigate the marketplace to give your business the best chance of success. This means using market research and data to project your business growth and outlining whether your industry shows signs of growth, stagnation, or decline.
4: Marketing and sales strategy
Having a great product or service is just half the battle. The key to growth is effectively marketing that product and transforming interest into sales.
In this section, you should outline strategies and tools you’ll employ to position and promote your business. It revolves around:
- Product: What’s the benefit of your product or service ? Ensure it meets a genuine need or solves a tangible problem in the market.
- Price: How much do your products cost and why?
- Place: Where will you market and sell your products?
- Promotion: How are you promoting your product or services?
5: Financial planning
A startup’s success isn’t just about innovative ideas, it’s also about numbers. Stakeholders and investors will want to see various financial statements and projections laying out past, present and future performance, including:
- income statements
- balance sheets
- sales projections
- cash flow forecasts.
If you’ve been running your business for a while, you can use your historical financial data to draw up these reports. Startup entrepreneurs, meanwhile, will need to rely on market research and expected operational costs to create a solid financial plan.
6: Raising finance
Many businesses draw up a business plan to help secure external finance. If you want to attract investors, you’ll need to outline the amount of capital you need, how you’ll use it and how you intend to pay it back. You’ll need to demonstrate that their money is in good hands.
It’s important to do your research and be realistic about how much funding you ask for.
An implementation plan is a roadmap that guides your business from its current state to meeting its ultimate potential.
Setting a timeline can help you steer your business in the right direction, and allows you to track your progress against set targets. Think about what key milestones you aim to hit in the first three months, six months, or the first year.
You’ll also need to identify foreseeable risks and craft contingency plans explaining how you intend to address them.
Finally, your appendix should include any other supplementary documents relevant to your plan. This could include proof of your leadership team’s credentials, raw data from market research or copies of your tax returns.
This can help prove that your strategy is reliable and realistic, providing investors and stakeholders with assurance that you know what you’re doing.
It’s essential to blend ambition with realism – the more objectivity you can provide, the more robust and grounded your plan will seem. But of course, that shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of demonstrating your vision.
If you want to put the right strategy in place, you also need the right support. From identifying which business structure will work best for you to drawing up in-depth financial forecasts, we’ll do everything we can to get you on track to meet your goals.
Get in touch to discuss our business strategy services for startups.