Not Your Grandfather’s Business plan
Your business plan is going to be broken up into sections, and each section has one goal in mind, to make sure your business plan doesn’t suck.
1. Even Less is More
When writing a clean, mean, funding machine make sure to always write dynamically. You want to get as much information on the page with the fewest amount of words possible. There are different methods for this, and we cover some of those below. Taking a paragraph and boiling it down to a single sentence may seem like a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with figuring out what quality or process you want to highlight. Let’s say that while doing market research you found out that over 60% of your target demographic said that they would buy or recommend your product.
They go on to say that they wouldn’t mind paying more, because the quality of your product is better than anything currently on the market. Now you could write that into a paragraph, or you can shorten it to a single sentence.
● 60% of consumers would pay more for our high-quality product
All you need to do is pick out a keyword, such as quality. The only information you needed for this example was the percentage of customers that choose you over the competition and why they would do so. This allows you the ability to present the important information without burying it in an avalanche of words. The Important thing to remember is that you always need to have the facts to back up any claims made by your business plan. This doesn’t mean you need to condense your entire marketing plan down to a handful of sentences, it’s just the more points you can condense, the more information you can add.
2. Picture This
One way to visually explain growth, cost, profits, etc., is by using charts and graphs. Saying that your profits have grown 1/3 in the last quarter is impressive, but seeing a big rectangle towering over your older and sadder rectangle is so satisfying. You don’t want pages that are all graphs, charts, lists, tables or even paragraphs. You need to keep your plan clean and that means diversity. You want the best function for each of your different sections. It’s easy to represent numbers with graphs, as the visuals speak for themselves and they’re engaging. For your summary however, a picture of a big bag of money isn’t going to be as successful as using a well written paragraph. The point is trying different ways to show off the information you’re putting out there and see what works.
3. Know Your Audience
Like the principle of knowing your demographic, you also want to know who you’re presenting your plan to. The difference is your core business plan is concrete, but other parts of your plan can be more flexible, allowing you to focus on the key points.
If it’s for your partners, you might focus more on where the company is heading and locking down on your executive summary. You want them to know the direction the business is going, so that they can stay in the same lane as you. This allows the business to continually move forward in a way that you and any other partners can agree on. If it’s for a lender then it’s a whole different ball game. You are going to want to focus more on your financials, such as profit, cost, worth and so forth.
They are not only going to want to know how profitable the business is going to be but also know how you plan on making your product available to your consumer.
Are you selling your hotdogs out of a push cart or out of a restaurant, or maybe on Amazon?
You are going to want to put ample focus on how well your product is trending. You don’t want your business to be a dinosaur right out the gates. Good research will keep you from stumbling into a dying industry. That’s what making a lean business plan is all about; speed, style, and adaptability. This provides information that directly relates to the person or people on the other side of the table. You want this to be tailor made. Still base everything in facts, just highlight the facts that are relevant for each meeting, this keeps you from having to bring a novel of a business plan.
4. Update or be Outdated
The worlds of business and finance have been and continue to change. This can happen in a drastic way and other times it’s more subtle. One thing is consistent, the need for us to adapt.
How do we and what do we change exactly?
You should at least check and update your business plan once a year, to make sure you’re using the most current data. A lot can change in a year, I mean look at how drastically the world has changed in a few months.
You should always update your plan whenever there is a drastic change going on.
If you were selling your business, you want to represent your company in the most accurate way you can.
Take Covid-19 for instance, no one was ready for this. If you operated in a field that couldn’t socially distance you were going to start losing money and business, and as we discussed earlier losing consumers is a no go.
Now if you stuck to your business plan without taking steps to change with the pandemic, you were most likely going to lose your business, even if you eventually got bailed out or received a stimulus check, you were losing customers and clients the entire time, and the people that could adapt could siphon those away.
You might think that once things return to a normal state that you will get those customers back, well you won’t, not all of them anyway. Whenever something that drastic happens it changes people’s shopping and buying habits, which means a large chunk of your marketing research is completely outdated.
You need an attack plan to keep yourself thriving. This means getting creative, and if you have a flexible business plan you will be able to do just that.
Another time to update your plan is if you make a substantial gain or loss. You want to make sure you continue doing the actions that work, while weeding out the processes that don’t. So that you can take every opportunity that presents itself, without having to pull out your business plan and update it. I look at a business plan the same way I look at a resume. You always want to have an updated version on hand just in case you need it. If you end up showing an incomplete picture of your company and what it stands for, you risk seeming incomplete.