Most Nigerian businesses and friends I have met start their businesses without any business plans. That’s a wrong way to start, every business needs to have a written business plan. Whether it’s to provide direction or attract investors, a business plan is vital for the success for your organization. A business plan covers what products or services your business will sell; its structure, what the marketplace looks like, how to sell the products and services, funding needed (if any), what the financial projections are, the permits, leases, documentation and all that would be required.
But, how do you write a business plan? Well to start with, most recommended Business plans should include;
Executive summary — a snapshot summary of your business (this is written last)
Company description — this describes what your company does
Market analysis – research on your industry, market and competitors
Organization and management — your business and management structure
Service or product — the products or services you’re offering
Marketing and sales — how you’ll market and promote your business and sales strategy you intend to use.
Funding request — how much money you’ll need for next 3 to 5 years. Not really compulsory, except if you a re writing the plan to seek for funds.
Financial projections — supply information like balance sheets
Appendix — an optional section that includes résumés and permits if necessary.
Here are 5 simple steps to writing a business plan
1. Research! Research! Research!
Decide on the structure, marketing strategy, and finance for the business. This information makes your analysis and forecasts more likely to be accurate. To write the perfect plan, you must know your company, your product, your competition and the market intimately, therefore you need to conduct well rounded feasibility study and research about the business.
2. Create a company profile
This is one of the main sections of a business plan and it gives details about your company, the problems it solves, the businesses you intend to serve and all that stuff. Your company profile can also include the history of your organization, what products or services you offer, your target market and audience, your resources, and what makes your business unique.
By the way, Company profiles should also be placed on the company’s website, so they can attract possible customers and prospective staffs. When I crafted my company profile, I put this on our About page. However, your profile can be used to describe your company in your business plan. It’s not only an essential component of your business plan; it’s also one of the first written parts of the plan.
It explains the competitive advantage that would make the business a success, the experts on your team and the location of the business. You need to communicate your company’s strength in this section, so as to convince investors.
3. Create a marketing plan
This 3rd step in writing a business plan is very important. Without marketing your business will be like the proverbial man that winks at a beautiful woman in the dark. In describing your marketing, highlight who your customers are, discuss your customer’s problems and how your solution will help them resolve it. Explain clearly how you intend to get customers. How you are going to challenge or manage your competitors
4.Make it adaptable based on your audience.
“The potential readers of a business plan are a varied bunch, ranging from bankers and venture capitalists to employees,” states Entrepreneur. “Although this is a diverse group, it is a finite one. And each type of reader does have certain typical interests. If you know these interests up-front, you can be sure to take them into account when preparing a plan for that particular audience.”
For example, bankers will be more interested in balance sheets and cash-flow statements, while venture capitalists will be looking at the basic business concept and your management team. So determine the audience and write your plan for them. Rarely does a business plan cater to all these diverse needs of each group at once.
5. Write The Executive Summary Last
It is advisable to write this and in as few words as possible. Remember the executive summary is a page summary filled with the most important information about your plans. Its something someone can just pick and read with the intent of going further or not. Make it a single page as much as possible. Then place it at the top/intro page of your plan.
More importantly Get professional help for your business plan if you think you are not too confident in preparing it. Yes! at times, it might be quite challenging for you. You can have access to already prepared business plan templates or worksheets which you can just fill in the blanks for then, you would love my business plan worksheet.
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