As you launch your business, your business plan will become your best friend. Not only will it help to guide you through each step of planning, running, and building your company, but it will be critical to bringing in funding or growing your executive team. With that in mind, it’s clear that outlining a top-notch business plan from the start is key to building a successful business. While there’s no “right way” to create your business plan, there are a few aspects that you want to focus on.
Know Your Audience
Typically, you’ll be faced with two key audiences: the investors or partners you’re aiming to bring into the company and yourself and any other leaders who are on board with the business already. For the former, you need to convince them of not only why they should be a part of this project but why you and your team are the right people to pull this off. You want to summarize your plans as persuasively as possible. It’s equally important, though, to be honest in your descriptions so that, should someone not be the right fit for your company, you don’t waste your time or theirs pretending they are.
And, of course, don’t forget to consider your business plan’s lasting legacy; it will act as your roadmap through not just your company’s first steps, but its lifetime. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes down the line, but having a solid starting point will save you future troubles.
Include the Most Important Details
Your business plan should be customized to fit you and your business but, even so, there are a few important details that you’ll want to include no matter what:
What are you selling?
It would be pretty difficult to run your business—and convince others to get involved—without a firm understanding of your product or service. Know whatever you’re offering to your customers thoroughly, and be able to explain it clearly and concisely to potential investors, partners, and clients.
Who’s your ideal customer?
Speaking of customers: who are they? Try to avoid vague, wide-ranging descriptors. It might help to create an avatar depicting your ideal customer. To take it even further, how will you help them? Touch upon your intentions for customer service for an even more concrete view of your customer relations. And, beyond even that, what marketing tactics will you employ to make sure they know about you?
How will your business run?
How will you handle inventory management, order fulfillment, and other logistics? Consider the benefits of utilizing a third-party logistics provider, for example, like the flexibility and improved customer experience they can provide. You might not know what you’ll be doing at exactly 2 p.m. every Thursday, but you should have an idea of both the day-to-day and big-picture operations of your business.
How will money move in and out?
You need to be aware of your budget as you plan your business. Is your 3pl service provider giving you the best results for the best price? Are you considering the cost of business staples (think envelopes, office supplies, and business cards)?. What sort of investment do you need upfront, and what kind of return can be expected? In short, how are you funding your business while making it profitable?
When it comes to sharing your business plan, you want it to look like it’s come from the founder of a successful business. Consider a custom foil-stamped tax folder to hold financial documents—and always opt for the “fancy” paper. Even if your company has not yet launched you want to look the part. Pair your CEO-worthy business plan with a smart suit and you’ll be off to a great start.
You can find all templates across the internet for outlining your business plan but remember that there’s no one correct way to create it. If you understand your business—what you have to offer, to whom you’re offering it, how you’ll do it, and how you’ll pay for it—and present it well to both your team and its potential supporters, you’ll have the ideal business plan in no time.