Writing a formal business plan can seem daunting, especially when using a template
that asks questions spanning 8 to 10 separate sections. To help ease into a larger template, it can be helpful to write down some key notes in advance so that you are ready to go when writing a larger plan.
Try writing down some ideas by breaking your thought process into these three modules before picking a template and get a head start on your plan.
- Write a short and specific working description of your business.
- How will you describe your business in a way that will get your readers on board with your idea? The language you use to tell your story in this description will be valuable throughout the entire written plan. Writing this once and reusing the key sound bites in other sections when appropriate will help to keep the rest of your plan sounding consistent.
- Create a financial model that works – specifically one that is realistic, affordable, and eventually profitable.
- The written plan will in various sections refer to your expectations of the financial performance for the business. How much does this idea cost to start? What are the margins on the products or services? What are sales and profit expectations? When will loans be repaid? Building the model in Excel using a cash-flow projection worksheet will help to make you and expert in your business model. Business plans that are consistent and confident while describing potential financial performance are generally well received by readers.
- Determine a well-defined target market.
- An understanding of your specific customers will be a key to success in business and is crucial when writing an effective business plan. A profile of you target customer will help inform how you describe your product, including its design, your marketing messages and tactics, your market size, and your sales projections. Defining who they are, what they care about, and why they will buy is an effective way to make your business plan more specific. A business that tries to sell to a few specific customers will be more effective than one that tries to appeal to everyone at the same time in a more general way.
Planning these three items before starting the larger plan will help to make you an expert in your business. You will quickly have more of the answers during writing, and in turn develop a better momentum for the writing.
The Halton Region Small Business Centre provides consultations and seminars on business planning, financial projections and target markets. See your seminar schedule at halton.ca or call 905-825-6000 x 7900 to book a free one-on-one consultation.