9 Tips to a Better Business Plan

By the small business content developers at  BizLaunch.com.

Writing a business plan can be an exhilarating activity for an entrepreneur. It’s the juncture when you synthesize all your ideas and hopes into a document that allows you to quickly and efficiently determine how you will share your vision with the world. Because of the dynamic nature of business plans in the information age, it may be difficult to distill your concept into something...if not carved in stone, then definitely more official than it rattling around in your head. However, business plans are a necessary tool in evaluating your business’s likelihood of success. The truth is that an incomplete or rudimentary business plan is as bad as no business plan at all.

The first step of writing your business plan is to get started and the last step is to finish, but in between you have many options. Here are 9 ways to writing an exceptional business plan:

1. Do your research.

Even if you have extensive experience in the field, it’s impossible to know everything. Research will help you fill in the blanks that are necessary to write a high-quality business plan.

Investigate the software you’ll need, your audience or customer profile, and the hows and whys of inventory. Base your decisions and plans on hard facts and you’ll start off with your eyes wide-open about challenges or potential pitfalls.

2. Use a template.

A template is an outline that you’ll use to build your own customized document. It will guide you, but it won’t navigate for you. The template will give you the freedom to expand where you need to and edit where appropriate. It will operate like the sketch an artist draws before painting a masterpiece and allow you to flesh out your ideas without having to worry about form.

3. Construct a hook.

If you build your business plan with a hook embedded in it, you’ll have your elevator pitch ready before you know it. The hook can be a story, an anecdote, or enticement that helps the reader get drawn into your narrative. Examine your moment of inspiration, your motivation, or the problem your business solves to find good material for your lure.

4. Consider the competition.

Explore your competition. What do they do well? Where do they need improvement? How do they find their customers? The answers to these questions will help you fortify your business plan and to stand apart from what already exists in your field. Your competitors can help you build a stronger business model before you even make a single sale.

5. Identify your customer.

All the research you did in step one will help you zero in on your intended market. Detailed customer models will help you make important decisions like what marketing tactics you’ll use to reach out to your customer and how you’ll conduct advertising. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’ll end up trying to sell to everyone, which can quickly deplete any financial reserves you may have.

6. Look for collaborators.

Strategic partnerships can strengthen any business. Enterprises that can operate in synergy like an architect and interior designer, or a content strategist and a website designer, could share a space or collaborate on a marketing campaign. If writing is not your specialty, hire a writing coach or a copywriter to help you flesh out the document. Look for partnerships that help you accomplish major goals.

7. Identify priorities.

When you pinpoint important areas of focus in your business plan, you are able to determine concrete objectives that help you develop a strategy for success. It’s easy to get derailed if you don’t have a business plan with clearly-defined targets.

8. Keep it short.

While you might think it looks impressive to haul out a hefty business plan bound in Corinthian leather, experienced business insiders know that there’s no correlation between length and quality. Short business plans are constrained and those constraints force them to focus on meaningful information. If your business plan starts getting longer than 25 pages, you have some necessary editing in front of you.

9. Update as necessary.

Revisit your business plan frequently. In the beginning, you may want to update it as often as every quarter. Once your business becomes more stable and you start hitting your targets, you may only need to revise it every year or so. A business plan is a living document that should be amended and augmented whenever your business expands or alters. It provides a necessary game plan that advances your business practices and acumen.

By Andrew Patricio

April 27, 2016