Guest Author: Alicia Shawn
The pandemic still poses a problem to many across the US, but the distribution of vaccines has at least brought optimism that things are starting to take a turn for the better, especially to businesses that have suffered losses. According to the US Small Business Administration, 99.4% of businesses in Indiana are small businesses — a total of 512,348 waiting to bounce back from the setbacks of the previous year. For this purpose, a business plan is one of the most important documents for streamlining objectives and setting goals. In this article, we’ll be giving our best tips for writing a stellar business plan that is sure to be useful for both new businesses and established businesses looking to move in a new direction.
1. Cover all key concepts
Each plan can differ from business to business, and a 15-20 page document usually suffices. Keep it clear and concise, while still including all necessary details to help readers understand what your business can offer. A standard business plan is often composed of the following parts: an executive summary, products and services, market analysis, marketing strategy, financial planning, and a budget. Other figures and data can be referred to in a separate appendix section.
If you are managing a lean startup, the requirements would be quite different, as it is centered around business hypotheses that are tested rapidly. If this is the case, experts still recommend preparing a business model that encompasses important details for investors or lenders that may request it.
2. Strategize for funding
For startups, adequate financial allocation and budgeting are crucial for potential targets and investors to be able to trust your business plan. Banks and venture capital firms also often check this as a prerequisite before considering providing capital to new businesses. Focus on outlining all potential costs and even possible pitfalls for each company decision, and prepare recovery routes as well. Also, look into acquiring financial support from small business grants, such as the Indiana Small Business Restart Grant which is open for applications until December of 2021. Other options to look into are crowdfunding, offering convertible debt, and even partner financing.
3. Get feedback from an expert
It’s true that writing your own business plan allows you to personally oversee its contents and ensure that it perfectly represents your company’s vision. However, Benjamin Jarmon, CEO, and founder of Joorney makes a good point about listening to objective feedback from experts or outsiders. When it comes to impressing investors, you need to be able to stand out and provide what they’re looking for — forecasts, burn rates, projections, and the details you might not be equipped enough to provide.
Small business plans will benefit greatly from advice coming from experts with a business administration background. They are knowledgeable in different areas of business such as economics, finance, management, marketing, and operations that will help form your business plan. Plus, today’s business administration graduates are trained with the latest technology and analytical tools which will ensure your business is competitive from the get-go. Consider this advice as an essential investment for the growth of your business.
4. Tie it together with an executive summary
Although the executive summary goes at the beginning of your business plan and touches on all the other information to be discussed, this section also includes the mission statement of the company, as well as any information about the leadership, employees, operations, and location — that’s why it’s important to return and revise once you’ve ironed out all the other details. Let your enthusiasm for your ideas to shine through, and back them up with clear, factual descriptions.
A strong business plan is the first step you must take to establish a strong business and isn’t something to be belittled. After all, big business names like Tesla Motors essentially began as a business plan. Lastly, always allot opportunities to look back and see what has been achieved and what has not — as your business grows and evolves, so should your business plan.