How to create the ideal business plan

Business plans are an integral part of everyday life for entrepreneurs and business owners. However, knowing how to create the ideal business plan can often be enough to send grown men and women screaming for the hills – or at least squirming uncomfortably in their seats.

So, what is a business plan, and why is it so important?

Your business plan is your chance to analyse your business’s biggest successes and failures, and to focus on the aspects of your company that really matter to you. It’s also your opportunity to see, in black and white (with graphs), exactly what an expansion will require. What are the skills and resources that you have access to? What are you likely to need in order to turn that dream into a reality? A business plan will ensure you’re looking in all of the right places for assistance, and that you’re being realistic when it comes to your goals.

The following steps should give you a good head start on your business plan. Go on, give it a go!

Take a long, hard look at business

Before you get stuck into your plan take a good look at what you’ve created so far. What are your strengths? Where are you weakest? You can’t hope to write a successful business plan unless you understand what it is you’re hoping to change. Analyse your business’s performance to date; where could you improve? Above all, prepare to be realistic, and brutally honest. Your business plan is your opportunity to develop something incredible, and to improve upon your existing business model. You won’t get anywhere unless you can examine your business objectively.

Choose your goals

Choose your goals, and ensure they’re realistic. How far ahead would you like to plan? What achievements would you like to accrue in that time? Your executive summary is a manifesto of the attainments you’re hoping to accomplish. Consider them wisely. Oh, now is also the time to ask yourself who your business plan is aimed at, and to target them accordingly. Is this a personal plan to help you realise your vision, or a document for the purpose of asking for financial assistance for your endeavours? Your answer will help you to create the most successful business plan imaginable.

Understand your competition

In order to create a successful business plan it’s essential that you understand your competition. What is your industry like? Who are your biggest allies and competitors? You can’t hope to improve or expand your business unless you’re aware of everything that’s going on around you. Now is also a good time to take a look at the new products and services being developed, and to react to the promotion and advertising of goods. Who do you aspire to be like? Competitive analysis is vital, particularly when it comes to strengths and weaknesses.

Factor in finance

Think about the numbers; how much profit is your company currently making? How much of a turnover are you expecting? What assets does your business own? How much will you need to budget in order to achieve your goals? Keep your financial expectations realistic, being strict with your budget. Now is the time to decide whether you’re seeking outside assistance, too.

Be clear on management expectations

Consider the strengths and weakness of your workforce, and the skills that are relevant to your business’s future. Where are you lacking? What abilities can you call upon? It’s time to be realistic about the commitments of your team members. How can you better motivate them to fulfill, and exceed your expectations? What’s more, do you have the management skills to lead such an ambitious plan? It’s time to be clear on how your team can pull together to cope with the demands of your new strategy.

So, what now?

Don’t get hung up on its length; a business plan can be a printed document with flow charts, pie charts, and fancy chapters, or it could be a paragraph written on the back of a bit of scrap paper. It’s the foundations of the plan that really, really matter. This is your chance to formulate your business strategy, and to see it through to fruition. If you’re planning on presenting your business plan to partners and investors ensure it’s a comprehensive guide to your business and its aims. You should also clarify the help you’re likely to need fulfilling your plan.

You can find out more about creating the perfect business plan here and here; well, we’ve only got so many words to waffle on for!

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