Do you have an up-to-date and relevant business plan for your business? Or even a plan at all? Many of us actually don’t! Or we have one we set a while ago that hasn’t been updated in line with any current circumstances. I get it – we all get busy and it can be hard taking the time out of running your business to work on it. But trust me, it is so important that you do. In this blog I’ll give a framework and some tips on how to create a simple business plan.
Following on from last month’s blog all about accessing funding and investment, here, I want to talk about what you need to create a simple business plan for the foundations for growth. This will also give you a good grounding as we face different challenges and change over the coming months.
Getting the Foundations Right
First of all, a good, robust and insightful plan shows you know what is going on thoroughly in your business and that you are in control. This is a big tick for anyone wanting to lend, invest or award funds. It also gives you all the facts and leaves nothing hidden which enables you to realistically plan and make changes.
Here we go over what is needed in a successful business plan.
What does it have to have in it:
- Overview of why your business exists – what do you do, why did you start, what are your goals and ambitions
- Marketing strategy – what’s your go-to-market approach
- Target market / audience – who do you sell to, who are your raving fans and who would you like to sell to next
- Financial details – revenue, profit margins and your various income streams
- Market analysis summary – can you expand, are there opportunities in your current market which you can maximise, are there changes in spending habits?
- Operational support / structure – what is your management structure, your governance, do you have clear roles and responsibilities?
- Overview of services / products – ultimately, what you offer, sell, or provide which you’re known for
Nice to haves are below if you want more detail or are looking for investment:
- Supply chain information
- Partnerships / collaborations
- Detailed marketing plan
- Detailed market analysis
- Funding or investment information
- Financials – forecasting, scenario modelling
- Product or services descriptions with timeline for development
So, let’s break these down a bit and have a look at what you should be asking yourself for each component.
- What would you like your business to look like in 3, 2, 1 years?
- Why does your business exist?
- What is your vision, mission and values – what’s your purpose?
- Who do you currently serve?
- Who would you like to serve?
- Do you know how they purchase, what drives their decision making?
- Age, location, lifestyle, favourite brands, their current client base?
- What are your key marketing messages?
- Clarity on vision, mission, values and what you are trying to communicate
- What is your marketing strategy – how do you engage?
- Channels – do you use social media, networking, PR, word of mouth, newsletters etc
- How do people spend with you?
- Define your services, products, income streams
- What are your costs for each – both fixed and variable?
- Do you know your profitability in each?
- Strengths: what do you do well?
- Weaknesses: where do you need to improve?
- Opportunities: trends, gaps in the market, turning your strengths into opportunities
- Threats: competitor edge, external market influence of obstacles
- What do people know you for?
- What sets you apart – what’s your unique selling point (USP)?
- Do you have proof of this – case studies, testimonials?
- Learn to tell the story in your marketing and sales opportunities
As you can see, lots to think about but it really is worth setting the time aside to work on this and ask yourself those questions. And if you need a helping hand in creating your business plan, please do get in touch.