Conrad Ford of business finance experts 'Funding Options' writes for Startacus about creating a good business plan.
Creating a business plan can often feel like a necessary evil undertaken with a heavy heart and the sole aim of convincing unfriendly third-parties to part with the funding you need.
But to create a really great business plan, you should be thinking not just about the end-game but also about the processes that your company would rely upon if it were already up and running.
Below are some tips for creating strong, robust and really effective business plans:
1 – View the process as an opportunity
In more ways than many people realise, the process of creating a business plan is as much for the authors as for the intended recipients. Putting together a plan requires careful thought about what the fundamentals of your business will be and the challenges you expect to face. This in itself presents a valuable opportunity for anyone involved to take a long look at the strengths and weakness of your business.
2 – Consider your audience
If you’re aiming to use your business plan to raise finance then consider the nature of the organisations you’re hoping to appeal to. Think carefully about the kind of questions they might ask you and have in mind that they are not in business to make friends.
Banks, venture capitalists or angel investors all have a responsibility to scrutinise and attempt to poke holes in your plans as they find them. Your business plan will always be sternly tested so your aim should not be to avoid tough questions but to have the right answers.
3 – Know your own strengths
Having someone write your business plan for you isn’t always a terrible idea, particularly if you don’t feel as if your use of language is ideal for the task at hand. However, having someone craft the precise wording of your plan does not relieve you of your responsibility for its contents.
You’ll want to be armed with the best business plan you can muster but unless you know what it communicates and what the real strengths are of your proposition are then you fund-raising efforts will surely be doomed to fail.
4 – Find the right structure
There is no single structure that is ideal for every business plan but an executive summary, a company overview and an explanation of your intended offerings will help to bring home the most vital elements without confusion and with a good deal of clarity.
From there you can move on into more depth and sketch out your plans for implementation and bring in your financial projections. Finding the structure that works for you and the proposition you’re putting forward can help bring your plan together and establish a basis for dialogue and future discussion that succeed in focusing on the most important issues.
5 – Detail the people on your team
As mentioned above, part of what putting together a persuasive business plan involves is understanding what your intended audience wants to know. In addition to details about cash flows and marketing intentions, potential investors will want to know about the backgrounds and the pedigree of the people on your team as they analyse the prospect of investing in your business.
Conrad Fordis Managing Director of Funding Options, an award-winning team of business finance experts who specialise in helping companies find the information and the funding they need.
If you have found this advice useful, then you might like to take a look at the planning section of our business toolkit
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