I intended to write a blog about how to write a business plan but then I had a better idea.
Why not have my friend Rob Warlow, bank manager and prolific website author of Small Business Success let you in on the secrets of:“How to Write a ‘Killer’ Business Plan”
Writing a Business Plan can be a daunting task. You have so many ideas floating around in your head that it can be difficult to capture them all in a logical format. However, committing time to writing an effective Plan can help improve your chances of success. In this article I will be giving you some tips on how to write a ‘killer’ Business Plan!
Tip 1 - Understand the Need for a Plan
Without a clear strategy and long term objectives you may be reducing your chances of success and so it’s important to commit time to plan ahead. Having put in time, energy and resources to come up with the ideas, why spoil it all by not having a structured plan for the future? The benefits of business planning cannot be underestimated. There are some potentially business-changing reasons to prepare a Business Plan. You must view planning as a crucial investment of your time, which could mean the difference between success and failure.
Tip 2 - Don't Go It Alone, Ask For Help
Picture this. You've never written a Business Plan before; you sit down at your table and end up staring at a blank piece of paper for 3 hours! Then, another 3 hours later, all you have is a bin full of scrap paper. However, in order to help you put a plan together there are a variety of sources of help you can tap into:
- Professional advisers
- Business colleagues
- Advice agencies
- Your staff
Tip 3 - Follow A Framework
Having a framework or outline to follow can make the task of writing a Business Plan so much easier. The 3 parts to your Plan are:
- Where you are now
- Where you intend to be
- How you are going to get there
This is your framework which will guide both you and the reader through your business and your idea.
Tip 4 - Tell the Reader Where You Are Now
In your first section you want to paint a picture of where your business is now. These are the main areas to cover:
- Business history
- Location and premises
- Your product or service
- Your market
- Your customers
- Your competition
- Your staff
Provide an insight into each part of your business so that the reader of your Plan knows how the business looks now. Obviously if you are just starting up, give an idea of how you see these parts of your business once you get going.
Tip 5 - Tell the Reader Where You Intend To Be
Having given an overview of your business, the next step is to tell them where you want to be. The main points to cover are:
- Your objectives and goals
- State what you want from the reader – a loan or overdraft for example
- Explain why you need and what it will be used for
Tip 6 - Tell the Reader How You Are Going To Get There
It’s all very well promoting your idea and business but the important point to put over is how you are going to get there. Here are the key points to cover:
- Marketing plan
- Additional resources needed to meet your objectives and goals
- Your contribution in terms of cash or equipment
- Security you can offer to support a request for finance
- Profit and loss and cash flow forecast to show that you plan to make money and that you can pay back the loan
Tip 7 Provide Some Supporting Information
Your Plan will have contained a lot of information, so it is helpful to include supporting documentation to provide more background. Placing these additional items as an appendix ensures that the flow of the Plan has not been affected by additional information.
What sort of items could you include?
- Letter of support from your Accountant
- Confirmation of pending orders from customers
- If you are purchasing a property, you could include the sales particulars
- Independent industry surveys showing that your sector is doing well
- If you are buying machinery, include quotations
- If your business’ main asset is you, include your CV!
Tip 8 - Ask Someone to Review It
When you are totally immersed in a task you can easily miss obvious mistakes. Ask someone to review your Plan to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors – don’t rely on Spell Check! Does it all make sense? Have you been logical in your arguments?
Tip 9 - Get The Presentation Right
After having spent a lot of time and effort on the content you don’t want to spoil it all with poor presentation! Here are some tips:
- Get the Plan typed; it will make it look more professional
- Make sure all the papers are clean and that there are no dirt marks or coffee stains! Buy some good quality paper
- Purchase a classy folder or binder to put your Plan in (paper clips or staples may not portray the right image!)
- Don’t forget to include all your contact details
Tip 10 - Deliver The Plan To The Reader In Good Time
Once you are satisfied that your Plan is a good representation of your business you can post it but ideally you should deliver it, at least you know it has got there! Prior to a formal interview (if your aim is to obtain finance) you need to give the Manager time to read your plan. Ask to make an appointment with him in 3 days so he has time to read it.
Enclose a covering letter saying that you have made an appointment and your Plan is attached for him to review and to prepare any questions.
All that remains for you to do is to turn up at the agreed time and present your case!
© Robert Warlow
Small Business Success
Small Business Success is a resource dedicated to helping small business owners be more successful. If you are looking for a regular flow of ideas and tips then subscribe to Small Business Success a free newsletter, which provides you with quick tips, ideas and articles.
For more information visit http://www.smallbusinesssuccess.biz
Rob has written an e-book "The Step By Step Business Plan Guide" that is highly recommended and if you are writing your business plan to raise finance from a bank then I don't know of a more useful book than Rob's "Secrets Of Getting Your Bank Manager To Say Yes" (look out for the review of this great e-book because I saw the pre-publication manuscript and it includes my suggested changes). Both of these links are affiliates.