Blueprint for a Killer Business Plan — Part 1: Before You Start

One thing that’s super important when starting any new business is to plan out your vision for it. To succeed and get financing, you must create a rock-solid business plan that clearly explains your goals and missions, including:

  • Who you are
  • What you are all about
  • And how you’re going to make money

We’re going to help you do just that with a new series of posts we’re calling “Blueprint for a Killer Business Plan.” This first post will help you better understand business plans. Before you even start writing one, we want to make sure you know what it’s all about.

Then over the next few months, we’re going to deliver a series of blogs with more of the steps and tips to make creating a killer business plan practically stress-free.

What’s a business plan?

At its root, a business plan is a tangible testament of your vision for your business, a hard-copy breakdown of your plans. It helps develop competitive strategies and determine if the business’ actual activity matches the projected plans.

Written in a summary format, a strategic business plan usually includes:

  • Executive summary
  • Business description (with objectives and mission)
  • Overall market strategies (including market research, potential customers, marketing objectives, the strategies and tactics the company will utilize to generate sales and revenue, a general overview of advertising plans)
  • Competitive analysis
  • Positioning (a description of the business model for the company plus a company profile)
  • Operations and management plan
  • Financial factors (charts and graphs on financial projections related to sales, costs, expenditures, cash flow statement and more)

We’ll dig deeper into these elements in future blog posts, so don’t focus too heavily on them right now. The idea is for you to have a good overview of the whole, before we dig into the pieces.

Who needs a business plan?

Although business plans are most commonly known for assisting new businesses, they should be used to throughout the life of the business. While they help to develop up-front strategies, business plans can also help growing and changing businesses meet benchmarks to determine how well a business’ actual activity matches the forecasted plans…and when it’s time to update and change directions.

Whether you’re starting out or established, you need a business plan to succeed for the long term. It helps you get from here to there. So, if you’re asking, “Do I really need business plan,” the answer is most definitely, “YES!” If you’ve been putting off writing your business plan, you’re not alone. Writing a business plan can seem like a daunting task, and lots of entrepreneurs avoid it for this reason.

When businesses skip doing a business plan, they will have difficulty explaining what they do and how they do it. They can spend unnecessary time trying this and that and never really accomplish what they want…with false start after false start and jumping around from here to there and getting nowhere.

Without a business plan, you may know what you want but never be able to convey what that is to employees, potential customers, service providers, nor anyone else.

How do you tell the world what you’re doing?

A well-done business plan all comes down to clear and concise communications. People are more likely to grasp what your organization offers if you do it in a relatable way. Show how you are superior to your competitors, where you’re coming from and where you’re going. (That goes for talking to your employees, too!)

Don’t stress about the design. The content is key. Focus on what you want to say and how you’re saying it.

How long should your business plan be?

The simple answer is, “It depends.” A one page plan can be useful in helping you define your business strategy quickly and easily. That may be all you need, or you could expand your one-page plan to a longer document including more details.

You should know your audience and write it in language they’ll understand and want to read. You should have some plan in place in order to get and stay organized, make sure you have commercial potential, and hopefully, will not run out of money before you get going. It should be long enough to convey what you’re doing but not too long that it bores people or gets them bogged down in details.

When is it time to get started?

You can get started any time you are ready…or when your situation changes.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) says “the real key to succeeding in business is being flexible and responsive to opportunities. Entrepreneurs often have to pivot their business once it becomes clear that their original customer is not the right customer, or when it turns out that their product or service fits better in an alternate market.”

Don’t be intimidated.

Writing a business plan may seem like a difficult hurdle, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know your business and are passionate about it, writing a business plan and then leveraging your plan for growth will be not nearly as challenging as you think.

We’ll be back with the Part 2 soon!

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