11 Tips on How to Write a Business Plan

by McKenzie Chapman   Ulticareer  | Goals  | Advice  | Opportunity  | Career decision  | Building connections  | Resources  | Entrepreneur  | Career advancement  | 

Writing a business plan is a key step to starting your own business. It will help you organize your goals and objectives, as well as prove to potential investors that you have a strategic and strong plan.

While this is in no way a comprehensive guide to writing business plans, these are some key tips that are crucial for getting started:


1. Do your homework

When you’re starting your own business, it’s of the upmost importance to do your research. You need to know what the costs will be, what is standard for the industry, and also what your competitors are doing. Spend a fair amount of time doing market research to make sure that you can go into the writing process with a good amount of knowledge.


2. Know your asks

Before you begin writing, know what your goals are by writing a business plan. You want to be organized, yes, but you also need to know how you’ll present the plan to potential investors and why you’re asking them to invest. You can’t present without knowing what you’re asking them for, so be sure to clearly define what you need before you even begin writing. That way you’ll have those asks at the front of your mind throughout your business plan.


3. Have samples or a portfolio prepared

If possible, have samples of your product or service as part of the business plan. A visual demonstration of what you offer can be a deal maker for investors. If possible, have examples of how your product or service has been used to solve problems and has been successful in the past or in test runs.


4. Executive summary

This is a key part of your business plan. The executive summary will be a quick rundown of your product or service, and it will summarize the main points of the following plan. You have to imagine that some people won’t read your entire business plan, so think about what you really want them to gain from it, and put that in your executive summary.


5. What’s the opportunity?

How is your idea unique? Most ideas are similar to something that already exists, so it’s important to emphasize what sets yours apart. What is the opportunity that lies in your idea, and what problems does it solve? Let the answers to these questions guide your business plan so that readers can clearly see the value in the idea. Have concrete examples and comparisons to showcase why your idea is new and better than your potential competitors.


6. Identify your audience

With anything you write or present, it’s always important to identify your audience and tailor your writing or presentation for them. At the least, you need to define a general audience to keep in mind while you write your business plan, and you could even go so far as to tweak your plan for every presentation you give. When you write with your audience’s interests and needs in mind, you can better cater to them, that way you’ll be much more likely to grab their attention.


7. Market analysis

Potential investors like to see the numbers. They want to feel secure with their investment, and one way to provide a feeling of security is presenting a market analysis. This means you’ll have to do research about the costs around entry to the market, return on investment, customer spending patterns, and your competitors’ history. A market analysis is key to making sure your investors feel confident in your plan, and also shows that you’re a true professional.


8. Company structure

How will your company run? How many employees will you have? Who will be in charge of what? Where will your office be? Who will you need to partner with? You shouldn’t be pressed to include all the nitty gritty details of how your business will function, but you should at least give a general idea of the structure of your company. Demonstrate that you’ve thought things through and that you’ve tried to foresee problems before they arise.


9. Product or service details

Of course, you need to talk about the product or service you’ll be providing. If you’re writing about a product detail how it will be manufactured. If you’re writing about a service write about how that will be provided and what purpose it serves. You need to prove why your product or service is valuable and that it will fill a need.


10. Branding and marketing strategy

Think about how you will sell and brand your product and service. You need to determine what marketing strategies will work best for your idea and how your branding will make your idea stand out. This will be helpful to think about before you begin writing your business plan, because it may give you some ideas and inspiration for how to structure your business plan and make it a winner.


11. Projection for the future

When you’re wrapping up your business plan, it’s important to give your audience a projection of the future of your company. You need to provide a timeline of your goals. When you give concrete next steps to your audience, they know that you’re thinking ahead and there won’t be any confusion as to what comes after they’ve read your business plan.

A business plan is a key component of any new idea. You might want to start off writing a business plan without any plans to show it to anyone, but just to get your ideas organized. When you have a business plan in place, don’t be afraid to tweak it when you reach a stumbling block or realize that there’s a better way to proceed. You should always be striving to do better, and a well-structured business plan can help you prove your idea is valuable.

Have you ever written a business plan? Has a business plan helped your idea get off the ground? Share your advice in the comments below and fill out UltiCareer’s survey to let people know what your type of job is really like!

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