The road to success in the business realm can be a complex journey owing to all the factors at play. Unless you have a well mapped out course of action, it’s easy to lose track and get mauled by the competition, market changes, and unforeseen occurrences.
A business plan acts as a roadmap that dictates the strategies to achieving the set goals and keeps focused on the prize. Yet, as many as 80% of startups go bust within their first few months of operation despite having a business plan in place. According to Bloomberg, the success of any venture is largely dependent on the kind of business plan in place.
The Essentials of a Business Plan.
A comprehensive business plan is basically made of three sections; a business concept, an overview of the marketplace and a financial section.
The business concept gives a sneak-peak on what the business is all about while the overview on the marketplace lays down marketing strategies, and gives an overview of the competition.
The financial section, is perhaps, the most critical as it defines the action points concerning acquisition and management of resources in the business.
Let’s dive into it.
Creating a successful business isn’t just about availing products or services to the market. It also entails identifying and articulating the core values that will guide interactions and decision making in your business.
The first step to crafting an effective business plan, then, should entail developing a framework through active and honest interactions with your teams, target audience, and other stakeholders.
From such interactions, it’d be easy for you to create a business plan that’s apt, concise and easy to implement. Once you’ve had a framework in place, you can then source for templates that you will base your business plan on.
After all, there must be similar and successful businesses that have already succeeded in the niche you are targeting. Having templates can save lots of time and also save you from making costly mistakes in your strategies blueprint.
Which kind of audience are you targeting to serve and what are their preferences? Which marketing tactics will make them buy from you? What are the probable costs of marketing your venture in the given market?
The aim of this stage is to explore your target markets in detail and this should help develop the right product and marketing strategies. Market research runs in two tiers.
In the first tier, you engage potential customers on a one to one basis. This is through surveys, phone interviews, and face-to-face conversations.
In the second tier, you peruse through past research information on the market that you are eyeing. The information will help formulate a more concise, customer oriented business plan.
The aim of the preparatory and market research stages above is to give you hints on the preferences, tastes, and needs of your target audience.
These hints will give the impetus to write an impeccable product description. Remember, your business will be built around the product.
So, how do you write a product description? Basically, this section offers you a chance to wow clients by enumerating the value that your products offer customers.
These include the unique selling points that your product has over that of your competitors. It also entails pointing out key points such as price variations, outstanding features, any training or support offered, customer service and even endorsements.
Resources organization plays a great role in success, or failure, of a business. Assigning responsibilities to the right people and availing the necessary resources on time ensures operations are smooth and downsides are corrected in time.
This stage calls for wide consultations with your team so as to come up with the right people and lay the ground rules of engagement in your organization.
The marketing strategy
A sales strategy should focus on the 5Ps that form the backbone of any marketing campaign. These include price, product, promotion, people, and place.
In a word, a marketing plan outlines the tactics your team will use to reach out to potential buyers and also convert them to repeat customers.
These include guidelines on how to fund the marketing budget, tactics to attract new customers and strategies to maintain a close-knit relationship with already existing customers.
Funding and financial outlay
Many of the businesses that fail lack tools and processes to monitor and manage cash flow within their entities. The end result is cash flow problems due to pilferage and outright theft by employees.
That’s why you should highlight the cash flow projections and also point the potential pitfalls that can decimate your business ventures.
Refine your business plan
The dynamism of today’s consumer and the rise of internet based marketing means strategies only remain effective for a short duration. This dictates that, as a business owner, you adjust sections of your business plans often so to mirror the existing environment.
Areas to especially pay attention to include marketing strategies, competition, business environment and changing consumer trends.
Best practices in writing a business plan
Always focus on the customer.
There is a myriad of reasons to writing a business plan. It can be a tool for seeking funds, a guideline as you start off or just a formal document you require.
If you want your business plan to actually be worthwhile, then it’s important to primarily focus on the needs of your customers.
A business plan shouldn’t be complex as you’ll need to use it from time to time as a reference material. Articulate the key areas, highlight strategies and, most importantly, give it an appealing layout.
This way, you’ll be captivated to study it often and give a makeover whenever necessary.
Have unique standpoint
A business plan should be as unique as the products it represents. If you just make a copycat document, you’ll not have the impetus to own whatever information it contains thus losing the meaning it was intended for.
It’s good to write a business plan. But for the plan to be effective, it’s good to ensure that it actually contains practical tidbits that you can implement to the dot. Take your time as you write the business plan. It
Take your time as you write the business plan. It will be your blueprint to success in the years to come
Most importantly find a mentor to guide you on the path you are about to travel. I would recommend you check out this community of online entrepreneurs who have helped me build a successful online business. This, in my opinion, is the most important thing you can do if you are thinking of taking the entrepreneurial route.
Many thanks for reading my post. If you have a question or a comment on writing a business plan for a small business, please leave it below. I would love to hear from you.
Hi there. Great to connect with you. I worked as a graphic designer for many years but could not seem to make much headway. A few years ago I discovered internet marketing and that is how this blog was born. Hazina is a Swahili word which means treasure. It’s what we do here. We help people just like you find their own online treasure. Check out this amazing community based online education program that has helped me build a successful online business and how you too can have a piece of the action.