How to Write a Business Plan – Tips and Insights

Writing a business plan is not a simple task … nor does it need to be a painful one either.

For starters, if this is your first attempt, you should look for Govt. and Non Govt. resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs ….. like your local chamber of commerce.

For online resources LinkedIn is a good start. Also try advisorgarage, gobignetwork, and similar networks to find a business consultant ready for pro-bono work.

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Using a Business Plan to Answer Key Questions

A major reason for having a business plan is to make sure you are addressing the multitude of questions that have to be answered before you can point your business in the right direction. Trying to start a business without considering every detail is like looking for something in a disorganized room with the lights off: pretty soon you’ll trip, and if you fall, it’s likely you won’t ever get to what you were looking for. On the other hand, if you make a plan and follow it like a map, you will get to where you want to go.

Your business plan will answer these questions:

* What sort of business are you planning?

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So What Makes a Great Business Plan?

A business plan is usually required for any new business that is looking to start up and is looking for some kind of funding, be it bank overdrafts, loans, mortgages, grant funding etc. It is also necessary when looking for larger funding to expand a business, and perhaps to acquire equity investment. There are many sources on the internet that will cover a mass of detail that should be included in a business plan, a one-size fit’s all plan if you like. As a template and source of ideas this is okay, but rule number one in producing a business plan is “tailor it not only to your audience, but to your specific business and how you will achieve the goals in the plan”.

Too many plans revolve around what the target audience wants: “What do we need to say, and how do we need to say it to get our hands on those funds?”, this can be a major mistake and may well backfire on you. Sure, you want the funds but not at any cost. Imagine you suit the plan to the reader’s needs and then fail to hit targets in 3 months time, knowing that you couldn’t have met them anyway but needed the funding, what then? Understand what the funder wants from you, and make sure that you include all of the relevant core detail they need to help make a decision. But use your business plan as two things, a tool to manage your business ongoing and to help meet those targets you are setting, and as a marketing document that sells your business idea and strengths to your audience. You may only get one chance, make it count first time, every time!

A business plan is like a story. It has a start, middle and end. It has a plot, that needs to unfold in front of the reader’s eyes, taking them on a journey that throws up a host of challenges and shows them how the characters can overcome, and succeed! There is always a happy ending in a business plan, but along the way there are real terrors and dangers which the reader needs to be convinced can be conquered, and at the end they are confident the main characters are the one’s to do it! It is not a cold and mathematical document…bring it to life, make it real. If it looks and feels real, then with hard work and the right people it can become real.

» Read more: So What Makes a Great Business Plan?