Key things to get right when putting your business plan together
May 5, 2014
“Sit down and write a business plan! Start off simple and don’t try and over complicate everything. Get the basics right such as your market, who is your primary customer and demographic, your price points and importantly your Unique Sales Proposition. Compile a mini budget and make sure you have some cash flow forecasts. There is no point in starting a business unless you know what the payday is!”
It is the thing that a lot of us intend to do but never quite get around to completing – the business plan. In some cases the business plan exists in the head of the owner or bits of paper scattered around the office.
The problem with this is if you fail to properly document your business plan then you will forever take the scatter gunned approach.
Some, however, go to the other extreme and develop a business plan that is so complex and hard to understand that when it finally comes to getting others involved no one else understands what it is you are proposing.
This is why the business plan needs to be clear and concise but also simple in nature. In other words the truth is a good business plan lies in the middle of the two extremes.
The business plan should also be a living document that changes as you reach your key goals and milestones – you should always ask yourself the question what and where to next?
So, these are key things you need to include up front:
What is your business and how do you intend on structuring it?
What is your product and service?
How do you intend to monetise it?
What is your market?
Demographic or geographic or a combination of both?
Include a SWOT analysis and show the findings from your market test. Include your key indicators and milestones. For example when do you expect to break even?
What percentage of the market do you anticipate owning and by when?
How will you go about acquiring your customers?
What will be your sales and marketing strategy aligned with customer acquisition?
What is your budget, cash flow forecast and initial sales pipeline? (this should be broken into financial quarters and years)
What is your Unique Sales Proposition?
The structure of your business plan will change depending on how you prioritise each of those key points.
There are also business plan templates that are freely available online or via member based organisations and small business incubators that may be run by your local, state or federal governments. If you do use a template keep in mind it was developed as a broad use document – you should always try and personalize it around you and your business as much as possible.
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