A kickass business plan can be to a startup what a winning game plan is to a soccer team. Starting a business is serious business and you don’t want to go in blindsided or unprepared. Much like a game of soccer, it is important to do your homework with regards to what you are up against and collect all the information available on how to develop a winning strategy. This will give up you a heads-up, as well as brace you up against the pitfalls.
Business plans of existing companies are heavy on such aspects as setting overall goals, evaluating new products, assessing new technology in the industry, reviewing specific operations, and a number of other equally important details. For a startup, however, it’s kind of a slightly different ball game.
The business plan of a startup is essentially the schematic for its formation, operation, and success. And this is why startups are advised to not circumvent this process by taking the shorter but dangerous route that is devoid of this critical aspect. That is to say, nothing less than adequate attention ought to be given to this detail.
Here’s what a business plan does for a new company; it serves up a good idea of its strengths and weaknesses. It also exposes ways through which the strengths of the business can be built upon and the weaknesses eroded. A startup business plan lifts the lid on every aspect of the business that can be developed and highlights the best ways to bring about those developments. In your quest for the winners’ medal, you need nothing short of a well thought-out and laid-out plan.
It’s easy to lose sight of the true magnitude of the quest ahead, it’s even much easier to be bursting at the seams to hit the ground running already. But a Kamikaze approach won’t do you much good in business. If anything, it sure is one way to plunge into the deep end. And you don’t want to be there, trust me.
Sure, putting together a solid business plan does require a lot of time, thought and effort – there’s no getting around that. At some point, it may even seem like the albatross that is keeping you from going big, but you must realize that this is a vital ingredient that is on the menu of success for today’s businesses.
In today’s ultra-competitive world, a premium is placed on gathering all the related information and evaluating them before throwing your doors open. You are in much better stead to compete, thrive, and succeed in the current business climate with a business plan that checks all the boxes. This is not one of those times when you get to cross the bridge as you reach it, you may never even get as far as the bridge without the well-oiled machine that is a well-constructed business plan.
I get it; most entrepreneurs are practical, hands-on people with very little tolerance theoretical planning but you can’t afford to take a pass on this one because it may well prove the difference between success and failure in the grandest scheme of things. Fair enough, researching and putting together a business plan is quite the task but you can make it that bit easier for yourself with some preparation. Here’s a perk; walking through the process can help you better understand your business, boost your chances of success, and whittle down the risk of failure as a startup owner.
There are several issues that ought to be taken care of before going ahead with putting together a business plan that can hold its own. While it may not exactly be possible to cover all those details within the scope of this text, there exists a basic checklist with which you can cross-reference as a way of setting yourself on the right course.
As an aspiring startup founder, you may have already had run-ins, however briefly, with such aspects as vesting, business objectives, mission statement, keys to success, industry analysis, market analysis, competitor analysis, strategies, marketing plans, management, organizational structure, operations, financial pro formas, break-even analysis, and financial requirement.
But no worries if most of them sound them like abstract terms to you. Writing a business plan for your startup is no rocket science, it’s largely a straightforward process that you can walk yourself through step-by-step, all the way to the finish line. Depending on the scope of your business, the entire process can take between a few weeks to a couple of months. Just pay attention to the following details.
Professionalism In Presentation Is Key
There is hardly any single standardized and adopted format for writing a business plan. In most cases, the format of a business plan is dictated by the nature of the business, and this implies that certain details are given more attention than others in some business plans.
It is also common for business owners to be the main architects (though not necessarily the only ones) of their business plans since they have better grips on the operations of the business and its management, as well as having learnt what elements to include to make the best possible impressions.
What is ideal for a startup is a business plan that highlights its best features and as such, it is best to organize the business plan with the logical development of the business plan in mind. And in view of that, there are at least a dozen basic components – namely;
- Executive Summary: A summary of the key elements of your business.
- Company Description: An introduction of your company and your business concept to your readers.
- Industry analysis: A insight into your industry and the position of your business within the larger mechanism.
- Market and Competition: Basically an evaluation of what you are getting into. While it is not uncommon to have some business plan proponents place market and competition in separate categories, you can’t come to an accurate conclusion on a vital component: your market share, without studying both together. Hence, best practices entail examining and presenting them together.
- Strategies and Goals: An analysis of the market and your competition so as to determine how and where your company or products or services fit, as well as broaden your position with your target market.
- Products or Services: A description of your products or services and how they match the findings of your strategies and goals.
- Marketing and Sales: A statement of how you will market your products or services with the best positioning, as well as an attempt to forecast your sales based on the results obtained from categories four, five, and six, in that order.
- Management and Organization: This entails highlighting the management and personnel that will be calling the shots.
- Operations: An explanation of how the business will be run.
- Financial Pro Formas: This is essentially a forecast for successful financial performance for all activities. A projection or estimation of the financial implications for when things go mostly right.
- Financial Requirement: This is an elucidation on the type and amount of financing needed, based on the previous sections, to bring the whole plan into fruition.
- Exhibits: This marks the conclusion of the plan. This is where supporting materials that would otherwise make the “story” disjointed and incoherent are featured.
A startup business plan that is written by an individual who knows his onions will feature the lot of these basic sections systematically laid out in the order of the outline. Most of the segments highlighted will also be outlined in the same order of presentation, with slight variations to be expected depending on the nature of the business.
If you have set out to put together an attractive business plan for your startup with the aim of scoring capital investments, you may need to tweak the financial requirement section somewhat so as to include a loan request or an investment offering proposal.
Don’t let the business plan process scare you out of your wits, embrace it! Armed with preparation, knowledge and these insider tips, you are well on your way to creating a flawless and foolproof business plan that has all it takes to hit pay dirt. And planning shouldn’t be such a big ask anyway – you know what they say; failing to plan is planning to fail.
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