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8 Steps for Writing a Successful Business Plan

If you are about to get started in the world of business, it can be a particularly daunting prospect. With so many different things to think about, you can quickly end up becoming overwhelmed. That’s where your business plan comes in. Initially, this may be a way of refining your ideas to give you a clearer picture of where your company will fit into the marketplace. Once you have a clear plan, you will then want to go on providing it some structure and detail so you can present it to potential investors and clients.

Why Do You Want to Do This?

A good starting point when you sit down to write your plan is to think about exactly why you would like to set up a business in the first place. Are you looking to grow your company into a big multinational or are you content running a small business? Do you want to run a business for your own pleasure or do you want to make a real difference in the world? Once you have established these facts, you will be in a much better place to write your business plan.

How Will You Use the Plan?

It may seem like a strange question, but you need to define exactly how the plan will be used before you can work out exactly how to write it. It may well be a draught that you are working through your initial ideas, in which case it can be informal and less detailed. It may be one that you are actually presenting to potential investors, in which case it needs to have a detailed strategy and financial forecasting included. It may even be that you will present it to potential employees, so it will need to sell the company as a great working environment and highlight its potential for growth.

Business Description

You should be able to boil down the essence of your business down to a single page. A huge proportion of the best businesses are based on simple ideas, so if you can’t fit everything on this page, there’s a chance that your business model is too complicated. You should also feature a short description of the industry as a whole and how your company will fit into the marketplace. Also include your own unique selling points so you can make it clear how your business will be differentiated from your competitors.

Market Research and Competitor Analysis

If you haven’t yet conducted any market research, it may be time to go back to the drawing board! This is so important in determining the level of demand for your product or service, as well as exactly who your target market is. You should also have conducted some competitor analysis so you can show what they are doing and what your business will do differently. Investors will react more positively if they can clearly see that you have put in extensive research.

Financial Details

If you are writing a business plan for yourself, you will want to detail all the areas from which you have received funding. This may be from loans, investments, spot factoring funding or other areas. If you are writing your plan for potential investors, you will want to include detailed financial projections showing how your business will develop over the coming years. Investors are always looking for how they can receive a return on their investment, so make sure this is something you can clearly show them.

Development Plan

Many business plans include a development plan showing how the product or service first came into being and the various evolutions it has gone through over time. This is a place where you may want to include initial sketches or other designs. You can then show how you envisage it developing over time; whether there will be any further evolutions to the product or additional services you will be offering.

Operations and Management Plan

This is where you can demonstrate how your company will run on a day to day basis, and the type of management structure you will put in place. Work out how you will divide up your departments and the opportunities for growth in each one. List the capital and expense requirements of each section of the business.

Adapt Your Plan Over Time

After your initial plan has been written, you will want to keep it updated based on any changes and developments within your company. As your goals and forecasts evolve, so should your business plan.

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