It’s Never too late to write a Business plan

Every business ought to have a business plan. A business plan is simply a written description of your business’s future, a document that states where you are now, where you’re going and how you’re going to make that happen. It’s really that simple. What’s not simple is its value. A business plan is strategic in nature, anyone who picks it up and reads it – investors, banks, employees, the board of directors – can see how you are going from here to there, in either three or five years time. A business plan can be anything from 10 pages to 40 pages; it just depends on your business.

Step 1 – Plan out your Plan

While we don’t want to advocate that you spend your time planning and not writing your plan, we want you to have the best start. If you plan your plan, then you can do your research – financial, marketing and staffing etc – and know where to start. To write a great plan, you need to know your company, your product or service, your competition and your market very well.

Step 2 – Keep it Simple

Everyone is busy today, even those who need to read your business plan. Scanability is key. You need to include all the relevant information, so leave out the filling. Keep to the facts. Avoid buzzwords, jargon and acronyms. Use language that everyone can understand, you are not persuading anyone by showing great command of the English language. You’re impressing them by respecting their time and giving them the relevant information they need.

Step 3 – Use Charts

Related to step 2, use charts to make your numbers stand out and be visually understandable. We say this to all our clients. As business owners, numbers, financials and projections often cause ‘glazed eye’ syndrome. However, you need to really understand them so you can converse easily about them. That’s why we advocate that you put your key numbers in charts or summary tables. They are quickly and easily understood by the reader but perhaps, more importantly, by you. Add all the extra details re your financials in the appendices but in the body of the plan, use charts.

Step 4 – Clarify your Goals and Objectives

A business plan conveys your business goals. Strategies make those goals become reality. Within your plan, you need to truly clarify your goals and objectives. State why you care about your business. If you are not clear, then how is anyone supposed to be clear about it? We often find that writing a paragraph stating why you started the business, what it means to you, what challenges you overcame, what the company’s values are, that this helps create an emotional connection.

Step 5 – Present your Plan

There is no hard and fast rule about how you present your plan but we would suggest that you include the following sections:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Business description
  4. Market strategies
  5. Competitive analysis
  6. Operations and management plan
  7. Financial factors
  8. Appendices

During step 1, you would have researched every element of the plan, so it makes it easier to sit down and write it. It flows when you’ve taken the time to research and know your content inside out.

Step 6 – Make it Adaptable

Your plan will be read by different people with different objectives. For example, investors will want to focus on growth plans and how you’re going to make them money. Bankers will focus on cash flow and your ability to pay back any loans. Managers will use it to stay on track of their objectives and it will influence their employees’ objectives.`Your plan must contain enough information, allowing you to focus or prioritise certain information above others for your audience.