Business plan guide
A document which can often strike terror into an entrepreneur is a business plan. I wrote the below guideline last year on LinkedIn, so if you want to read the full guideline for creating a template, please click below:
Otherwise some high level points to note:
1. A business plan should not be hundreds of pages, by the time you have written that much your business will have changed.
2. Therefore, keep this document as a high level statement - of where you are and where you want to be in 5 years. What do you need to achieve to get there?
3. Remember your audience. Investors and banks want to see your basic details at the start. So make sure you introduce who you are, the purpose of your business and who is the team.
4. Sounds old-fashioned, but nothing wrong with a one-line mission statement.
5. Then cover - Marketing/sales (include a SWOT and market position map), operations and finance. No one expects exact forecasts, only 30% of large multinationals can forecast 6 months ahead accurately!
6. Make sure you write this yourself. There are plenty of people charging quite a bit for business plans, It may look glossy, but your audience wants to 'see you' in the pages. We can smell an insincere document a mile away (especially when they quote facts from completely different industries!)
What many people forget is that this is an evolving document and should be revisited often. You do not need to beat yourself up if you miss a target, but instead use the document to help reflect and steer your business.
Set aside a few hours ever quarter to read over and pick out key milestones and targets for the next quarter, decide what needs to go on your to-do list. What can you delegate to the team, or is it time to get outside help? Can you abandon a scenario?
Finally- just going out and running a business in fine, but consider what an hour reflection can achieve, over days/weeks of wasted time on activities that were not researched or planned ours effectively.
If you really have not got the time to write a plan as you have no interest in investment or a loan, at least on one page sketch out:
What I am doing?
Why I am doing it?
How am I going to produce and sell my product?
How am I going to control my costs to maximise profits?
How do I learn from mistakes?
From this simple list you can start to create a to do list of short to long term targets and start to think about how these are going to be accomplished in a profitable way.
Good luck in your business year ahead!
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