10 Tips for National Write a Business Plan Month
Updated: Dec 26, 2018
December is National Write a Business Plan Month! You may be thinking that it’s an oddly specific thing to celebrate, but when you consider the importance of a #businessplan, it doesn’t seem so farfetched.
Without a solid business plan, you’ll be hard-pressed to find #investors, #banks, or #businesspartners willing to get involved with you. In fact, you could say that without a business plan, there’d be no #business at all.
Use these 10 tips to guarantee you’re putting your best foot forward with your plan.
1. Prepare an Elevator Pitch
Time is money. It’s something people have heard over and over and yet many still wax poetic when it comes to their business plan intros. Keep in mind that the men and women you’re speaking to didn’t make the money you’re asking for by sitting on their hands. Studies show that “within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are”, so start strong, get to the point, and peak their interest before they have time to count you out.
2. Tailor to Your Audience
It can’t be said enough that you should consider your audience. Just as you’d customize a #resume for a specific job, you need to adjust your pitch for your potential investors. Does Investor A tend to invest in businesses with #franchise potential? Does Investor B have a specialty in #supplychainmanagement? Discern your audience’s needs and make sure your plan has what they’re looking for.
3. Solve a ProblemWhy do some of the most #unique businesses fail? They don’t solve a clear problem for consumers. For example, you may be the world’s only line of glow-in-the-dark office supplies, but unless there is a niche market of people who like stapling in the dark, who will buy them? Being unique just isn’t enough to move a product, so prove your idea has value. By proving you’re offering something consumers want and need, you’re taking your first big step towards getting that #check.
4. Give a Face to Your CustomersHelp your investors better visualize your company by giving a face to your customers. Some ways to define your target market include #demographics, #psychographics, behavior, and #geography. How old are they? Where do they live? Are they college-educated? Are they early adopters or do they prefer to wait? Make sure to include population numbers and income as well, so you can prove there is a lucrative enough market waiting for you.
5. Be Open About CompetitionEven industry disruptors have some sort of competition to consider. Ride-sharing services like #Uber, for example, turned the industry on its head, but they still had to account for taxis and shuttles in their planning. One great way to avoid underestimating your competitors while also showcasing your own strengths is to build a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis details the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a company. Build one for yourself and your top competitors to show you’re aware of, but not intimidated by, the competition.
6. Know the Risks
The worst thing you can do in a business plan is to try and hide the risks. Is your industry facing tariffs on key materials that have the potential to increase? Is your business highly susceptible to market changes? Keep in mind that your potential investors are successful men and women who do their research before they make any major decision. Not only will you not sneak anything by them, you’ll also look unprepared by not addressing the issue.
7. Have a Clear TimelineA great way to inspire confidence in any business plan is with an operations timeline. Clearly outline how and when you will be executing the setup and #management of your business. Include delivery timing for your inventory, training time for your staff, and marketing efforts before and after launch. Investors who notice an unrealistic timeline will be the first to pass when it comes to decision time.
8. Forecast ConservativelyFor similar reasons, be realistic about your finances. Business specialist Jean Murray of The Balance says, “the trick is to underestimate #income and overestimate #expenses."
Things come up and new businesses have unexpected expenses. Give yourself enough room to make mistakes.
9. Sell YourselfDon’t forget that you are part of the package. Include mention of your certifications, work experience, industry knowledge, and business contacts within the management section of your plan. Make sure your lenders know that you’re someone worth trusting with their #money.
10. Review, Review & ReviewThe last step to preparing any business plan is to review. Read it out loud to yourself. Read it to a friend. Have a friend read it back to you. Never rely on computer spell-checks to catch every mistake and don’t take for granted your own bias. Something may seem clearly written to you but be incredibly confusing to someone else.