Pro Tips: Developing a Short and Simple Business Plan that Works
It seems to me that everywhere you look there are “experts” telling you how to build a business plan or trying to sell you their sure-fire software that can magically do it for you. Every time I see one of these pitches I laugh to myself because there isn’t a quick-fix magic-pill solution to developing a business plan.
Many entrepreneurs want to outsource this task because they don’t feel that they have the time or expertise to do it themselves. However, the best business plans that I have seen are simpler, shorter documents that look and feel like the owner wrote them personally.
I firmly believe that the business plan is a foundational document that you need to personally write so that you can gain clarity about what you are trying to accomplish. Developing a short and simple business plan will do more for you and your business than for anyone else.
Tips for Developing a Short and Simple Business Plan
I suggest you follow this business plan outline in order, as you will find it easier to shape the overall document by working in this sequence. You can reorder them later to be easier to read and understand.
- Current Business Situation: Include your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Include significant achievements, patents, prototypes, awards, contracts, locations, etc. Describe objectively why you have been successful. Clearly state the compelling reasons that anyone would invest in your business, buy from your company, or join your team.
- Market Analysis: Research and portray, using specific numbers, the size of the market that you are in. Explain the potential and identify your competitors.
These metrics need to be as precise as possible, not just an educated guess. You should hire the research out to a competent freelance researcher. You need to be able to prove that there is a need and future for your business in the market.
- Marketing Plan: This step in developing a short and straightforward business plan requires much thought. Write out the purpose of your marketing, how it will be executed, a particular target market, and who you aren’t targeting. Painstakingly scribe your unique selling proposition and your business identity.
Other components of developing a short and straightforward business plan are the fears and frustrations your prospects might have before they buy from you, a list of the delivery methods for your message (direct mail, social media, boosted posts, pay per click, signage, etc.), a description of what your competition is doing, and a list of what your business does exceptionally well.
- Mission Statement: This is the high-level message that you send to your customers about who you are and what you intend to do. This is a vital part of developing a short and simple business plan. Don’t underestimate the power of mission, vision, and cultural statements. These will become the touchstones for your business in the future.
- Vision Statement: This is a focused message to your team. Write out what your business will become in the future. Be descriptive and aspirational about the final result.
- Points of Culture: This section in developing your short and simple business plan is about how you and your people will act and what you will stand for. This should be aimed at your team and your customers. Think of this as guiding principles for your organization. A clear guiding principles manifesto is critical for business success.
- Business Strategy: Convince your audience (and yourself) of what you are trying to achieve and how. Be very specific and write more than you want to. Many businesses fail because the strategy is flawed and the marketplace is misunderstood.
- Financial Features: This section in developing a business plan is about numerically identifying specific performance measurements. How will you know if you are succeeding and what will the results look like? Include sales, leads, average sale, conversion rates, gross margins, profit, trends, and expectations.
- Financial Requirements: Think of this section as a believable and achievable economic model that would be compelling enough for you to invest your own money in the business. This should include a P&L, a CapEx forecast, funding needs, and sources, use of funds, etc.
If you devote the time to completing these sections when developing a short and simple business plan, you will have 80% of a final document that you can refine later. The most successful businesses synchronize their quarterly plan regularly. Future investors can wait until you get the contents of a business plan right, and with practice, you will.
If you want to learn more about the critical responsibilities of a business owner and to develop a short and simple business plan, fill out my contact form to schedule a free call with me to discuss.