Is the time to write a business plan for your company? Where to start? How to structure it? Here is a summary of the information to integrate.
At what point in the life cycle of a business should a business plan be written?
A business plan is made when starting a business. This document describes your company, its objectives and strategies, the target market as well as the financial forecasts. It represents a sales tool for a financing or loan request. Since it clearly defines how the business operates, it is also a valuable management tool. Good use of the document is a guarantee of success for your young company.
A business plan is not just for starting the business. It is a constantly evolving tool: more employees, launching a new range of products, exporting… It will have to be revised at each stage of the life cycle of your company.”A business plan is a constantly evolving tool”
Who should write such a document?
This exercise is the responsibility of the founder (s) of the company. At the start, developing the business plan is a big job to do. But thought is necessary: this is how you will understand the connections to be made between the different sections of your business plan and any gaps in your business strategy.
Resources exist to support you in your process. Although you are the only person to write the plan, in order to take full ownership of it, mentors or organizations such as Info entrepreneurs can be solicited for support, in order to check, for example, that each section of the plan is correctly completed and that the information is relevant. Having recourse to experts will allow you to seek strategic data or to examine the accuracy of your revenue forecasts – because these are sometimes overestimated.
What should the business plan include?
This document contains at least ten sections: the executive summary; business strategy; marketing strategy; the operational plan; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis; the human resources plan; the social responsibility strategy; e-business strategy; financial forecasts; and the business exit strategy.
Pay special attention to the summary , that is, the description of the company. This is the centerpiece of the document, as the financier or investor will read it first. This part should be clear, concise (two pages maximum) and arouse the reader’s curiosity. Since this is a summary of the main points of your business plan, write it down last.
How to make a business plan impactful?
Put yourself in the shoes of the person who will receive your document. She reviews such requests every day: What are the things that will make your business plan stand out from the crowd?
Form . You don’t have to use a Word format filled with writing and numbers. The shape can be less conventional – as long as it fits your industry. For example, you could choose to make a PowerPoint, supported by images and colors to inject dynamism.“A business plan is a constantly evolving tool”
Fund . Personalize your business plan. Let your reader feel your enthusiasm, motivation and confidence in achieving your goals. If there is a story to tell, do it. Is your business a family business, born out of personal experience? Detail the human side, which is generally appreciated by funding organizations.
Another tip: be careful with the jargon used. The person who will read your business plan is not necessarily an expert in the field. Acronyms or technical terms might lose focus. Consider making a glossary where you will explain specific terms.
Both in substance and in form, the business plan should reflect your personality (or that of your company). This is how it will become unique.
Who should such a document be shared with?
Internal. It is important that your team is aware of the goals to be achieved, the mission and the values of the company. Everyone must have the same speech. Thus, the day when you cannot make your sales pitch yourself, you will have complete confidence in the person around you who will deliver it for you. It is good practice to incorporate this business plan into the training of any new employee.
Externally, of course, to the attention of financiers and investors.
The time you take to complete your business plan is a valuable investment in the future of your business. Why? Beyond the sales tool represented by this document, the aim of the exercise is also to transform your ideas and your capital into a profitable business, as well as to determine, upstream, its strengths and weaknesses.