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Friday, 16 May 2014

Friday Guest Blog: The Easy Way to Write a Business Plan - 3 Key Steps


By Hakeem Adebiyi - Director, Hands Associates

Most people find creating a business plan one of the hardest things to do when setting up a business but it doesn't need to be. Like everyone else it's not one of my favourite things, so I decided to look at ways to make it easier. Having written and reviewed many plans over the years I discovered that if you have the right formula then the planning process becomes much easier.

This article is dedicated to explaining the right formula and giving the three key steps for easy success in writing business plans.

1. Find a template

Don't try and do it all yourself. There are now loads of templates on line so that you at least have a starting point. It can be as basic as a word template or you may move up to a sophisticated on line tools. Whatever your preference this resource will enable you to at least start with the end in mind.

2. Get an industry specific sample template

It is now easy to find sector specific templates and ones which have a sample filled in. Imagine if you have a photography business and you have a business plan template with a sample business plan of a photography business. I guess this would speed up the process of doing your business plan. It certainly has with mine. Make sure the template has the following elements.

Executive Summary: Overview summary of the strategic objective of the business. Typically looking at 1-5 years and should be no more than two pages as it should be an overview of the rest of the document and give a clear picture of your business.

Company Description: Legal establishment, history, start-up plans, etc.

Product or Service Analysis: Describe in some detail the different services or products you have and how these will specifically benefit the end user - the customer.

Market Analysis: This should include market stats, segmentation of market based on your products/services, who are your target customers and how are you going to market to them.

Strategy: Make sure it's Specific.Measurable.Achievable.Realistic.Timed/trackable. What is the strategy and how are you going to achieve it, using what methods.

E- Strategy: These days whether you are an eBusiness or not then I would suggest you need to have some king of strategy. Even if it is as basic as just discussing your website, development costs, content and target audience.

Management Team: Who are your key management team members and exactly what are their responsibilities. How will they be measured.

Financials: Probably self explanatory but you need to cover projected budgets and sales, cash flow, profit and loss and balance sheets. Again there are really low cost and in some cases free software which can help you set all this up. Even better they will also track the information and help you build manage your invoicing procedure.

Now hopefully you know more about your business than anyone else so filling in these sections shouldn't prove difficult. Make the information simple, clear and action based. However never be afraid to delegate, it doesn't have to cost much, find someone who is a better writer than you, give them the template and the information and let them loose. (of course make sure it is someone you implicitly trust )

3. Review - the idiot test

Once you have completed the document get it reviewed by someone who doesn't understand the business, if they can understand it then you have written a clear, concise business plan that will work.

Once you have written the business plan then you need to make sure that your sales people have effective plans to deliver. Contact me at hakeem@handsassociates.com or call 07786 535550 to see the best advice, templates and tools for delivering effective sales plans.

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