What needs to be in a business plan?
26th June, 2023
We have advised hundreds of clients during the early stages of setting up a business, writing their business plan, and readying their company for the next stage of growth and investment. So, as you’d expect, we’ve seen a fair few business plans over the years, and as a result, we know what success looks like.
Starting a Business Plan: Why They Fail
Needless to say, some of the business plans we see are better than others, and the difference in quality normally relates more to the author(s) than the idea. All too often, we meet enthusiastic people with amazing ideas, but this does not necessarily make them good business people or the best-placed person to write a business plan.
It’s fair to say that very few individuals have the skills to develop a robust, multi-faceted business plan. Understanding financials, sales, marketing, and potentially product development with limited or no direct experience really shows when committing an idea to paper.
So, the first piece of advice we would offer is to draw on others’ experience and don’t be afraid to call on specialists, like Haggards Crowther, to help you build out those areas of the plan that are not your specialty.
Business Plans Seeking Investment
For established companies seeking that next step, looking for investments or finance, a business plan may sound like a simple ‘more of the same’ document. But all too often with these, the focus is on what’s gone before, and it ends up failing to sell the future or the upside for a potential investor. How will the investment help the company achieve significant growth, and therefore, what return can the reader expect for their money—and when?
So, it’s clear that a good business plan needs to tick a number of boxes: sales, financial projections, target marketing, development, and innovation. But while each business plan should be unique, there are a few key ingredients that apply across the board.
Here are the top 5 things your business plan should contain:
1. Robust Financials: With a clear financial forecast of profitability, realistic costs and evidenced revenue growth 2. A concise executive summary Don’t risk leaving the reader to find the value in a detailed document. Get them excited enough to want to read more 3. Clarity on the structure of the business and what it is you offer—what is the value proposition? This is especially important if you are seeking investment 4. Can you provide a concise summary of your business idea? What makes your pitch unique? Why should we choose you? Why is this timely? 5. A professional-looking document—well-researched with validation and verification where required. Nice layout, is easy to read, has a natural flow, and is well designed.
It’s a Sales Document
These top tips may all sound relatively obvious, but you’d be surprised how many business plans ignore the basics. Remember that the people reading your business plan will likely be in a role that means they read dozens every week/month/year, so yours needs to stand out. It’s a sales document first and foremost, so make sure it sells the opportunity while remaining factual; it’s easy to pick apart unsubstantiated claims or poor research.
If you’re stuck, not sure, or need someone to help guide you through the process, why not contact us today and speak to one of our business specialists?