But, how do you go about writing one? What needs to be included in the plan? Can you edit it along the way and make changes to it? We thought we would take a look at what needs to be added to a comprehensive business plan. After all, they are in place to map your strategic direction, but also for key clients, investors and stakeholders.
First, Know Who Your Customer Is
Before wading into creating a business plan, you will need to know who your business is talking to and what they want from your company. So, do some market research before outlining the details of your business.
A customer map is one of the easiest and most effective ways to know how to outline a business plan and how to position your brand and products. Know the basics of your target audience demographics, such as age, location, gender, etc. Then map out further by understanding their interests and behaviors. Not only will this help you with your marketing and give you the step up to speak to your customer, but your business plan will be an accurate reflection of what you want to achieve.
Make Use of a Good Template
If you are going in blind and writing your first business plan, consider using a template. Luckily there are tons on the market for you to try out. It is all about looking out for the right one. It is important to know that every business differs, and every industry comes with different needs and elements.
So, look for a startup business plan template that will suit your needs. These templates typically include the most important components of a successful business plan. However, in order to guarantee that your business plan will assist you in accomplishing the objectives of your business, you will still need to carry out extensive research.
Detail Your Products and Services
Now that you know who your customer is and what they expect and want from you, it’s time to outline your offerings. A deep understanding of your products and services is essential for not only keeping them in mind but also for educating potential investors and stakeholders.
In this element, try determining what your unique selling point is. What are you offering clients and customers that your competition is not? How are you different? How are you listening to what your clients and customers want and adapting your business around that? Are you ahead of the curve and bringing in unique never-seen-before products?
All of this information will not only help your marketing efforts and strong brand identity but help with third parties. If you are wanting to gain investment or even business from key clients, your USP is a strong selling point for you.
Pinpoint Your Competition
Talking about competition, this is something that will need to be added to your business plan. In order to be successful and competitive, you will need to know who you are going up against. When you are researching your customer, take time to do a deep dive into just who your competition is as well.
Remember, it is healthy to have competition, so keep an open mind. Know what their selling points are, how their products and services differ from yours, who their key customer is and how they market their products. It could be worth your while watching your competitors’ marketing too. Social media is a key tool for marketing and will allow you to keep an eye on what they are doing.
Define Your Strategic Goals and Trajectory
A business plan is not only for you to outline your services and USP. It is also there as a goal-setting plan. You can use this to map out where you want to be in the next 6 months, a year, two years, and even five years.
Opening a restaurant for example? You can map out your expected income for the foreseeable future in your business plan. Are you wanting to open a sister restaurant or expand your chain in five years? This gets included in the plan. Not only will this help you with your future planning and provide you with regular check-ins for how your progress is going, but it is great for your investors too.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, a business plan is the editable and adaptable blueprint of your business. It is the document that you can refer back to regularly, as well as the document that your key stakeholders can hold you to.