Why you need a business plan (and how to write one)
You’ll set yourself up for success when you take the time to work on your business plan
Every business needs a business plan. Whether you’re just starting out or you have a well-established company, a plan is essential to keep you on target. Don’t wait until the new year! December is National Write a Business Plan Month, so now’s the perfect time to make sure your plan is up to scratch.
For many businesses, December is one of the busiest months in your calendar. There’s no better time to check in with your business and get things in line before the new year arrives, bringing with it many new challenges. With a comprehensive business plan, you’ll be ready to tackle anything that 2018 throws your way.
Why should I write a business plan?
Competition is fiercer than ever, and a business can easily fail if you don’t invest the time and effort into creating a proper business plan. Without a plan in place, it can be hard to keep on target and you may struggle to make sound decisions that help you progress towards your ultimate goals.
A recent survey suggests that you can double your chances for success by having a business plan . A comprehensive plan will help you clarify important decisions, and it’s also a great tool to attract lenders, investors and top-level employees. It will quickly become your go-to document to check how things are going and help you tackle the constant challenges that are part of business ownership.
How do I write a business plan?
Your business plan is your opportunity to lay out all of the important aspects of your company, to demonstrate how you have the potential to succeed and to explain the steps you will take to get there.
A comprehensive business plan should include:
- Executive summary
A summary of the key points of your plan, including your business concept, competitive advantage, legal structure, the market, and your business experience.
- Business strategy
An overview of everything about your business: its history, its purpose, and a description of your products and services. You should also include your current position — what stage of the business lifecycle your organization is in — and your growth plan. Highlight your milestones and short-term and long-term business goals.
- Marketing strategy
Describe how you will promote and sell your products and services. You could also include a profile of your ‘ideal customers’, backed up by market research and thorough competition analysis.
- Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis
Objectively identify the factors that can affect your business. This will help you make sound decisions, anticipate problems, and provide resources to take advantage of potential opportunities. You can read more about how to conduct a successful SWOT analysis — and download our handy template — here.
- Financial information
Your financial forecasts should cover the next 3 to 5 years, with a more detailed 12-month forecast. You should include cash flow statements, profit and loss forecasts and sales forecasts.
Depending on your business, you may want include other information — such as a social responsibility strategy and a business exit strategy — in your plan. The most effective business plans have the ability to evolve as your business grows and changes. Your plan should reflect the current operations of your company, and outline your present and future goals. Be sure to revisit it often to make sure you’re on track.
Take the time this December to write your business plan, and you’ll always know exactly how well your company is progressing towards its goals. Don’t wait for the new year, when many business owners start to make their resolutions. Get the jump on the competition and start today!
If you need help with your marketing strategy, the team at Different Perspective can help. We offer full marketing consultancy services and can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, conduct in-depth competitor analysis, and measure your market potential.
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