Do you want to write a business plan? Have you thought about how to write one but thinks it’s complicated or not necessary? Maybe, you have asked someone to write it for you and you were charged an enormous amount for it?
I’m going to show you how to write a workable business plan to help you start your business. Although, this plan is for SME’s who want to write down their plan of action for their business. It can also be used to seek a loan from a financial institution.
If you have written a business plan yourself or hired someone to write for you, then you may understand what I’m about to explain next.
Most business plans in Nigeria are not useable and Practicable. Sometimes, even the business owner doesn’t understand what is in the business plan for his business. Also though it is a good idea to write a business plan, it’s useless having one that doesn’t help your business.
If you have written a business plan just to access bank loan that’s okay. But you need to write a business plan that would help you run your business profitably. In fact, this kind of business plan should address all the how’s, who’s, when’s, where’s, and what’s.
However, this success guide is to help you write a business plan yourself. And I want you to write a business plan that you can use to grow your business. That means you should know what’s in your business plan and memorise it
What Is A Business Plan?
If you haven’t written a business plan before, maybe I should start by explaining it in simple terms. Let’s look at it in separate words as Business and plan. If you understand in clear terms what is business and what is the plan, then you join them together to get the idea.
Business according to Google dictionary is a person’s regular occupation, profession, or trade. The key word here is the regular occupation. Anything that’s a regular occupation is a business.
Plan, on the other hand, has two definitions. The first one is defined as a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something. While the second one is also similar; an intention or decision about what one is going to do.
The first definition is more apt for me. And I think you can see it too. It has two specific keywords I want you to see. One is a detailed proposal. The other is doing or achieving something.
However, a business plan is a living document that maps out the details of your business. And It covers the following:
- what your business will do
- how it will be structured
- what the market looks like
- how you plan to sell your product or service
- How much funding you will need
- what your financial projections are
- and which permits, leases and other documentation will be required.
Understand The Business Of Planning
One thing to learn from the definitions above is that business is an activity that requires a plan to execute. With this kind of understanding, you can write a better business plan. The sort of planning that will help you achieve success in business.
Also, because you want to write your business plan yourself, you will be better positioned to know what’s in it and how to use it.
Don’t see a business plan as just a document to help you get a loan from a bank. That’s not what business plan is for. The reason the bank even requires it is to help them see what you want to achieve with your business. That way they can better understand your capabilities of repaying the loan.
If you can also see it as your capabilities of achieving business success, it will be more helpful. So, in writing your business plan, you should think of as a proposal to yourself and partners of what you are going to achieve.
How To Write Your Business Plan
To write a detailed business plan is not about the volume of words. The attention should be placed on relevant contents. Everything should be centred on the vision and the mission of the business.
That should be the first thing to write about your business. Ones you can articulate the vision of the company and a mission statement, everything else follows with ease. And from this point, everything else can be figured out without complication.
For example, the vision would help you decide on the name of the business. It’s like when a woman is pregnant. The sex of the child determines the name. Once the vision is clear what the sex of the child would be, choosing a name becomes easy.
The same way it will be more comfortable writing a business plan when you already know the vision of the business.
What Should Be In A Business Plan
The first thing to consider is who you want to use the plan. Since it’s a plan about your business, then it should include detailed information about how the business should work; who should run the company; and those who may be directly or indirectly involved in the company.
Don’t just write about the business like most general plans do. The focus is usually on the business idea, capital requirements, sales forecast, cash flow analysis, and funding sources.
Be smart and think more about the structure of the business. A well-structured business stands the chance of success than a non-structured business. For example, you should consider how the company would operate successfully with or without you.
You should make your business plan a guide for anyone working in your company. That means you should have parts of your business plan that is available for staff. It’s like a working document. Your business plan shouldn’t be like a trophy you hang on the wall. Use it to grow your business instead.
Rules Of Writing A Business Plan
The three rules you should know about writing a business plan are essential but straightforward. Remember, it’s important to understand and memorise what’s in your business plan. Keeping to some rules will guide you in the right direction.
The rules include:
- Keep it short.
- Know your audience.
- Don’t be intimidated.
Keeping things short is always the best. You may have a lot to write but make it as short as possible. If possible use bullet Points to summarise what you want to write.
Also, knowing your audience better helps a lot. Your business is about people. You need to narrow down who exactly is included in your target audience. Don’t assume your business is for everybody. It’s better to focus your marketing on a focus audience to minimise waste and cost.
But you must also know that your dream may not be easily attainable. There will be challenges. It may even seem overwhelming trying to imagine the scope of your business. Just know that no impossible dream comes into this world. For the fact that you could dream it means you can handle it as well.
Business Plan Universal Template
Your business plan writing should follow the universal process used by every successful business. Unless you have a better way that helps you capture your thoughts, ideas, strategies and implementation, stick with the universal template.
Below are just what a business plan should contain. But how you write it should be the way it would add value to your business. Sometimes the temptation of time may make you hire a consultant for the job. But to avoid paying for a copy-paste plan, you should help provide the ingredients for your business plan.
• Write an executive summary.
• Describe your company and business model.
• Analyze your market’s conditions.
• Explain your product and/or service.
• Outline all operations & management roles.
• Design a marketing & sales strategy.
• Detail a financial plan with business costs, funding, and revenue projections.
• Summarize the above with an appendix.
What’s In An Executive Summary?
It’s a summary, so keep it that way in just one page. However, you should utilise the one page to give a complete overview of your business.
• What the company is, where you’ll be located, what you will sell, and who you’ll sell to
• The business structure, who owns it and what experience/skills they’ll bring into the business, and who the first hires might be.
• Explain what you will sell.
• Explain the main findings from your market analysis.
• And how you plan to fund the business and what your financial projections are.
What’s In The Body Of A Business Plan?
Already, your Summary is a complete plan. However, you need to add details to your summary. The details are how each item will be executed. The review only gave insight into what you will do. But in the body of your plan, you add the executable actions based on your research findings.
Avoid trying to conform with how every business plan is writing here. It’s essential you pen down your own thoughts. In a way that you know and understand. That’s the only way you can a part of your company beyond being the founder.
Also, don’t assume that you know everything. Do some market research. The internet can provide easy access to tones of market findings in your target market. But where the data are not precise, avoid exaggeration.
The Business Plan Appendix
The appendix is not mandatory. But it’s important. You can add the resume of yourself and your partners. It’s here you can also state all the business approvals and certifications you need that are already or work in progress.
It’s like the final note where you state to an interested party that you are ready to open your doors for business.
Action Points On Business Plan
Here are the key points to keep in mind when writing a business plan yourself. A business plan is a guide that is designed to help you succeed in business. You should follow the right process. Your company is your idea. Don’t leave your planning for someone else to write it for you.
Step One: Have A Vision
The vision of your business gives your business a goal, a clear path, an agenda and expectation. The vision must be clear, and everything else in your business plan should centre on achieving the vision.
Step Two: Write It Yourself
I know most people hire business consultants to write their business plan. But you should write your business plan yourself. Follow the path already defined for you in this guide, and you will come up with something that would guide you into success.
Step Three: Follow A Business Plan Template
It’s essential you follow the right process. Developing a process will help you know what you missed out or what you have adequately considered. Also, it will expose your strength and flaws in starting a business. You may not like that, but it will save you from mistakes in the future.
Step Four: Don’t Forget The Appendix
I know I have told you it’s not mandatory. But that doesn’t mean it’s not essential. Your appendix is where you look to see if you are genuinely ready to start a business or not. If you do not see everything here as complete, then you are not prepared to start.
Although, some experts will advise that you should wait until everything is ready to start. But everything in your appendix should be prepared before you start.
Conclusion On Writing A Business Plan
Now that you know how simple writing a business plan can be, it’s time to start writing one. If you follow the summary plan, you can write your business in 30 minutes. Once you have your summary written, you have done most of the job.
Adding the body can be a gradual process. You can write each of the body points a day. So, it doesn’t look like too much work. The idea is to make it easy on yourself. It’s a plan and not an examination.
If you don’t think what you have written is perfect, edit it or start afresh. And focus more on what you want the vision to be like. In one week, by my calculation, you should have a business plan that you wrote for yourself.
And whatever part of the business plan you require external input, ask your friends or hire someone to help out with just that area. That way you still maintain the full copyright of your business plan.
- If you are starting a new business, also read the article on How To Start A Business In Nigeria. Don’t assume you know. Learn from what works.
- Make sure your business is registered before starting your business. An unregistered business is like a wishful thought.
- And if you have any question, you can ask me by dropping your comment below, and I will gladly answer.