When you develop a plan and think through your business idea, you will have a better chance of success. The business plan you write is going to be wrong, need changes and also have to be re-written, so this will be today’s plan, tomorrow we work on another. However, a plan is the plan and so we work through the plan until we have a better one.
Be flexible in your approach. Before you start writing, let's decide on why you are writing a business plan. Is it to develop a plan of action to ensure your success? Is it to present to the bank, an investor or to set out to everyone in the business what you all intend to do? Of course, each of these will need different emphasis, but the structure will be the same.
Who is your target audience? It’s important to avoid overkill, with loads of pages, lots of reference to web pages some university research did 20 years ago. This is not a report, nor some literature research paper, nor a work of fiction. Keep it short, to the point and full of information.
There are a number of places where you are required to repeat yourself between the executive summary and other chapters. While frustrating, this tradition with business plans is necessary, since a number of readers (your team, bank manager, an investor, etc.) will skip the rest and turn only to the part that interests them. If you keep each chapter too skimpy, you could fail to impress an important reader. Hence, aim to impress your reader in every section.
The business plan may be the first step in getting in front of a potential investor, so make sure you can create a pitch based on the sections you create. Don’t change the business plan and matching pitch between sending it to them and presenting, otherwise you WILL lose the deal. Investor don’t want to hear you have changed your mind and didn’t tell them upfront. Make your pitch part of the business plan (Sodergren & Bozward, 2010).
The best case would be to provide a totally new product or service that no one else offers, but this is difficult to achieve. Usually, we will need to compete with other companies, which offer the same as us. Therefore, we will need to try and differentiate from the others to catch the customers’ attention (Synthesis, 2014).
It is essential to consider that the success of the business depends not only on the product or service itself, but it also is very important the degree to which this product is able to meet customers’ needs, desires and preferences. For example, when buying a pizza, people not only do it because they like to eat it, but there are also other factors such as not wanting to cook, watching a football match on TV, having unexpected guests, etc... Thus, people don’t only buy the product, but what the product provides (ibid).
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Sodergren, D. and Bozward, D. (2010). Make Your Passion A Success. Available at: http://www.makeyourpassionasuccess.com/ebook/makeyourpassionasuccess.pdf [Accessed 28 January 2018]
Synthesis (2014). SYNTHESIS Center for Research and Education - EN Youth Teacher Project: Module 3 – Business Plan.