Business plans help to focus your attention, set your goals and impress investors. They're your tactics sheet for making your business a success and therefore it's vital you get the formula right. Here are our top five tips to making sure your business plan is as in-depth and winning as a top football manager's playbook.
As your business plan is often used to show to investors and potential business partners, it can be tempting to exaggerate or think extremely (overly) optimistically when (you forecast)predicting your figures. Avoid this at all costs as it can be fatal for your business. A survey, carried out by Intuit found that miscalculating the time it would take to make profit led to 44% of businesses either run out of cash or come very close in 2011. Investors will respect you more for showing an accurate and conservative prediction. It proves you're not underestimating how tough running your own business is and it means you won't have investors breathing down your neck if you're not delivering the high sales you promised them.
Running a start-up requires specific skills and investors will want to know your business has all the foundations to be successful, so show off your staff. Give details of everyone who'll be working for you, not just the managers and include outside sources such as mentors, lawyers and accountants. You should also mention any recruitment plans, so they know what areas you're thinking of strengthening and why.
This is the section where you sum up the entire business plan. It's potentially the most important part of the whole document as it's the first section everyone will read before deciding whether it's worth looking at the rest. So you need to make sure it's enticing, provides a good understanding of your business and highlights why you can promise an investor a return on their money.
It's essential that you know your market and your target customer. You need to show you're focused on a consumer and why they fit your product. You should also provide a detailed report on who your rivals will be and how you're planning to outsell them. You need to know exactly where you're competing and if they are better than you in certain areas, then say. You also need to show how big a market share each of your rival's hold and where you hope to muscle in.
You may be the best plumber, coffee maker or web designer in the world, but if no one knows about you, then the customers will continue to go to the same places they always did. So you need to draw up a grand plan of how you're going to attract clients, is it through advertising? Good SEO? Social media? Events? Or all of them combined?
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