You have started your business or are about to launch your start-up. You have clear ideas, not all but almost. You have studied the market and the product you want to launch; you have planned your business; you have identified your partners, suppliers and potential customers. Now comes the hardest part. You need capital! We need to find a person who believes in your business idea. You tried with the banks but they closed the door in your face. And business angels and incubators also do not seem to notice you.
Yet your idea seems valid, your business is part of an industry of safe development, you are surrounded by well-trained partners and experienced professionals. But then, where is the error? You simply have not been able to communicate your idea in the right way, you have not been able to transmit the same passion that is in you, and you have not been able to highlight the opportunities that can be grasped. Exemplifying, you have not submitted an effective business plan.
Here, then, thirteen tips to write a successful business plan. With this article I will give you tips and suggestions to turn your simple business plan into a successful plan, I will give you the tools and examples of business plans to be used to best present your business idea, I will show you the way forward to know everything, but everything, on the business plan.
1 – Do not be afraid of the business plan
Many entrepreneurs approach the business plan with the same fear of a student before the baccalaureate committee. They are there to fix a sheet divided into various sections and try to fill in the blanks. This is not the right spirit. You do not have to be afraid of the business plan. Deal with it naturally and with determination, always keeping your business in mind.
2 – Form and substance
The form of the business plan should not be touched. It’s that point. Start with a business plan model and customize it according to your idea. Instead, focus on substance: it is what really matters. It is important that your business plan defines the commercial product, present a plan that outlines the growth of the business, expose a forecast of the expenses and highlight the opportunities and risks.
3 – The right length
Remember that your goal is to write a business plan, not an economics treaty. 300 pages long business plans cannot exist. Pages and pages of market analysis sometimes end up confusing the reader’s ideas. The optimal length is between 25 and 50 pages. Focus, therefore, on important things.
4 – What is sold, who sells it, how much it costs
It seems incredible but there are business plans full of charts, forecasts, prospects and analysis from which you do not understand the product you want to sell, who you want to sell and how much it costs. I read business plans whose business idea was explained so badly as to be incomprehensible. Sometimes, to strike attention, we use big words and effect phrases whose purpose is to create smoke and which clarify little the product or service that you intend to market. Remember that this is a fundamental section within a business plan. If a lender does not understand what your core business show do you think he can put his hand in his wallet? Clearly answer the following questions: What are your products or services? How much do they cost? Who will buy them? Which medium will be used to sell them? How much does it cost to produce them, distribute them and market them?
5 – Be realistic
There’s nothing wrong with having daring goals. Indeed, I would say, that audacity could be an interesting springboard. But you must explain how you will achieve those goals. It is not enough to say that we want to conquer the moon; it is also necessary to demonstrate that we have the capacity to conquer it and the means necessary to achieve it. In short, you must present a realistic plan to achieve your goals. The more audacious your goal will be, the more technical the action plan indicated in your business plan will be.
6 – Focus only on important things
The most important thing for your business is all that has the power to keep it alive, what makes you make money.
This advice recalls a bit of the form and substance. Answer this question: what is the most important thing for your business? I know that some of you will return the entrepreneur, someone else the product, others the customers. None of this! Let’s look at each other and let’s talk clearly. You are starting a start-up because you want to make money! Well, the most important thing for your business is all that has the power to keep it alive, what makes you make money, what is likely to lead you to failure, the one that generates more opportunities. Your attention must be constantly focused on the important things: feed your business, make money, limit risks, and expand opportunities. Nothing is more important than this within your business.
7 – Research and development
Without the research and development we would still be here to deal with the abacus, we would travel on horse-drawn carriages, we would wear animal skins. Instead research and development gave us super-fast computers, ultra-fast trains and warm and comfortable clothes. Take the time to study the market and do your research. Only in this way will you amplify the development of your business.
8 – Use models to customize
You are not there to create your business plan from scratch. Council number 6 reads “Focus on important things”. For this reason it is good that you start from a ready-made business plan model. The charts, tables, analyzes, market research are already ready. You will only have to customize them according to your business idea.
9 – Competition, this unknown
Competition is that system that will try in every way to make your business obsolete.
Competitors and competitors are your enemies. To defeat your enemies you must know them. Studying and knowing them is synonymous with intellectual maturity. Sometimes the competition is not just the business of any competitor: the competition is that system that will try in every way to make your business obsolete. Competition is everywhere: for small shops it is just around the corner; for micro-businesses, it is in the next city; for SMEs it is in the neighboring regions; for large companies it is in the nearest country. If your company works on the Internet, well, the competition is in the whole world.
10 – Action Plan
Explain in detail your plan of action focusing on the operations you intend to take in the first month, the first quarter and the first year. If possible, also help with a Gantt chart. Represent your priorities and your strategy. Remember that many companies fail within the first year of life.
11 – The business plan is alive
The business plan represents the compass of your business.
The business plan is not meant to be completed once and left unchanged for forty years. The business plan lives with you and your company and must therefore be adapted to the various needs that will be created over the years. The entrepreneur must make daily reference to the business plan as it represents the compass of his business. The business plan must be periodically reviewed and corrected because it is unthinkable that the needs and requirements that we have today will also occur within five years. It is unthinkable that a product that sells well today will continue to receive the same attention and market demands for the next ten years as well. Things change: today’s opportunities can become tomorrow’s risks; today’s risks can turn into interesting opportunities.
12 – Work on your weaknesses
Admitting one’s weaknesses is hard, but never as it is now important to do so. Be honest with yourself and identify your weaknesses. You will have to work on it to correct and improve.
13 – Studying, reading, understanding
You will never be able to write a business plan if you do not study, read and understand before. Do not start from the mistaken belief that you already know everything: it’s never too late to learn. The text will help you understand the strategic objectives, the vision, the mission and the business strategy; to easily find the information necessary for the compilation, to correctly fill in the business plan starting from the executive summary; to define the SWOT analysis, the market analysis, the economic and financial analysis. Finally, a practical section is dedicated to FAQs and case studies.