Unless you’re an unbelievably fortunate person, if you plan on starting a business, the only path to success starts with just that… a plan. Though there isn’t a cut-and-dry, right-or-wrong way of going about said plan, there are parts that need to be in every one to maximize your chances at success. Here are some tips on creating a business plan that will not only impress potential partners, investors, etc., but that will also give you something to refer back to as you start to build your enterprise.
Before ever putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys), listen to the lessons of successful men and women who came before you. Some tips from revolutionary entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey include creating a business that solves a societal problem, and ensuring that all parts of your business model align with your personal values.
Finding a successful individual in a field similar to the one you’re creating your business in, and learning about his or her successes and failures is a great first step during the brainstorming period of your business plan.
The easiest way to reach a point where you want to throw in the towel is to give yourself and your business unreachable goals. Whether financially, or relating to the amount of work that needs done, be sure that your goals challenge you, but aren’t so difficult as to make you want to quit.
Whether you’re writing a business case for your boss, or a business plan for yourself and investors, creativity gets noticed. Business plan templates are fine as a backbone, and will certainly save you some time, but be sure to transform the template and come up with a pitch different than anything you saw while researching.
Collecting a bunch of good points from different resources and combining them into your own, unique plan can act as a microcosm for your actual business. If investors see a fresh, new, successful business plan, they are more likely to think the actual business will be fresh, new, and successful.
Include These Things…
Depending on the type of business, not all of these things may need to be included when writing your business plan, but there also may be some parts not listed here that will be needed. If it’s in your gut to add something, add it!
An executive summary for people to have a quick glance is paramount, but keep creativity in mind and make it stand out. Describe your product or service in a section, analyze your competition, describe your potential management team roles (unless you’re planning to be a sole proprietor, include operations plans and current market trends, and have a conservative-yet-confident financial plan.
Visual aids are certainly recommended, but make sure they’re functional and not just “fluff.”
Avoid These Things…
Remember that potential investors and partners see business plans every day. Save the “awesome,” “outstanding,” “fabulous,” and “best ever” vernacular for presidential speeches and stick to conversational, humble-yet-confident speech. Don’t bash your competition, either. It’s okay to say what you’ll improve, but start by complimenting something they do right.
Review Again and Again
If all goes to plan, your business will be in operation for decades, so don’t rush the business plan. Create one, review it yourself, and allow some peers to take a look, too. Just as any great novel needs many revisions, a great business plan requires the same.
Your mood will change, so be wary of that before deleting huge parts, but tabling those kinds of ideas and running them by someone in the field is a great idea. 100% confidence in your business plan may be too much, but if you feel like you have given each and every part due diligence and time to grow, while still having a healthy amount of optimistic angst, you have set yourself up for success.