A business plan hinges on how well the entrepreneur has a plan for each stage of their market. Indeed, it is a mandatory requirement when pitching a business idea to potential investors. However, it outlines the milestones the business needs to achieve, break even, and stay profitable.
In this way, the main takeaway we learn from the thousands of speakers is to show what our business does. Additionally, we need to expound on the potential threats, weaknesses, strengths, and opportunities to counter our shortcomings and have higher numbers in order.
The vision that the business sets to achieve is another factor that every business plan must have. Also, it is the single most helpful strategy for first-time entrepreneurs seeking investors. Moreover, when we have a business idea, we are at a disadvantage in writing the business plan. So, here are 30 approaches to improve our business plan:
1. Do in-depth research and analysis
It is not something new to do in-depth research and analysis when improving our business plan. We should know the target market that we want to start. Significantly, discover who the key players are and what global competition is like. Here are four ways that we can do market research to create our business plan.
■ Take a look at other companies that have similar products and services.
■ Conducting online surveys or focus group sessions for knowing our customers’ feedback about our products and services.
■ Buy expert market research data from a lot of firms that focus on our distinct industry as well.
■ Hire a research firm to interview customers to select targets and figure out our target demographic’s buying habits and buying decisions.
Those are four brilliant ways of valuable market research we obtain to get our business a good start.
2. Know our potential consumers and audiences
This is an essential part of having a good business plan. We should know about the products or services we sell, the price, the target buyers, the durability, and the functionality in the future. Plus, are the products still on-trend or not? We must be critical in every single aspect.
Secondly, we also see the potential audiences we want to pitch. Who will see our brand? Is it the investors? Or bankers? Use those kinds of questions to anticipate the mistakes in doing analysis. For instance, if our audience is bankers, think like them and write what they need to support your business plan. A great business plan will show that we conceive our business idea clearly and develop it into a sustainable and successful business.
3. Define our target market to boost our business plan
Humans are difficult to please. Plus, we have no time to give a solution to match with everyone. When it comes to developing and offering our products, we must identify a particular group in the society who need our services and are willing to pay for them.
When a potential investor sees our investment in researching our target market, the funding is as adequate as yours. The next step in our business plan is to identify our market’s size and the changes that will affect the future scope. With it, our investors may want to see an opportunity for growth, transformation, and expandability.
4. Be aware of our competitors
Knowing our competitors is a crucial thing we do. It is not only from another business but also from new technology that can make us obsolete. We are in the middle of the global world right now, and we have no other options. To understand our competitors, the only thing is to do market research correctly to invest time and effort. Don’t hope to have a successful business if the owners don’t analyze their industry, target customers, or competitors.
5. Build a niche for business plan
Do you want to beat your competitors? Then, start to specialize the topics and a niche by analyzing certain companies. Get started by:
■ Describe your industry and the objectives.
■ Splitting a large market into a more specific niche.
■ Setting your specialty to the research using the SPAN(Subtopics, Pain, Attainable, Numbers) method.
■ Becoming an educator to support your niche within the content.
■ Publishing your products or services through an article or any creative approach publicly, like writing guest posts or making social media content.
Still, when we reach our goal, we will appreciate all the hard work we put in to make it real.
6. Write a comprehensive executive summary
Many would-be entrepreneurs fail to capture their potential investors’ attention as they mistake writing a shallow overview of the business. In contrast, others will see the summary as the description of the company. In this case, some experts suggest that the details in our executive summary should include;
■ The primary use of the business
■ Prospective outcome
■ Purpose of the business
■ Amount of the required capital
Incorporating the above particulars in the executive summary without being wordy also includes the essential elements to help the prospective investor decide in your favor.
7. A business plan is not a school examination
Improving our business plan is more than just the school examination, like filling in the blanks. It is more like we answer the essay section with an outside-the-box answer. A successful businessman thinks critically in a creative, realistic, and innovative way. We should be brave to think about groundbreaking things.
8. Be rational
It is okay for you to dream as the next tech billionaire, as long as you can consider these questions, how are you running to do it? What is the idea to get there? How does it drive you there? There is nothing sinful with audacious goals, but we need a sensible plan to accomplish them with a very technical action plan. Unrealistic financial steps without a logical action plan are a big fault.
9. Learn from the past
Reflect from your experience to your business to plan the process. We can’t get real entrepreneurial experience in school life, but we have to learn it the hard way independently. So, use it as guidance and adjust our continuing business plan into the lessons we learn through the knowledge.
10. List our hypothesis
It will be most important when we get to the financial prediction of our business plan. List what our assumptions are and then combine them into the action plan as target goals. That’s why, if the assumptions have been proven, then our financial predictions will be correct. By listing our hypotheses, we will bring reality to sharpen.
11. Develop our focus
We may have the courage to succeed in any business; however, it will automatically abandon if our company doesn’t focus. So, what should we do well? What is the product or service that we want to sell? What is our customer’s opinion? Pin it down before we launch.
12. Be specific on what we plan
We need to specify our continuity of plan from now on until the next few years, the priority, and where we want to focus our goal. Have a specific action plan that we want to track. We may feel so bored to hear it repeatedly, but many businesses collapse within the first year. Time is precious; we need to be as critical and prepared as possible. Set our plan based on “action targets.”
13. Cover all necessary components
Ensure that we don’t leave any crucial parts. If we can’t explain what we sell, how much you sell it for, how the process we sell it, how much it costs to produce, how we distribute and market it, who our competitors are, and what the risks we undertake, then we are ready to collapse.
14. Use our style to reflect the plan
Don’t copy someone else’s rules. If we feel uncomfortable using a particular type, then eliminate it. Our strategy should reflect on how we think and how we work. We want to have charismatic and well-known personalities. Well, just be ourselves that what our customers want. The only thing they want is someone who can connect and join with them because we are honest. Our truth, heart, values, and vision are the weapons we use to beat our competitors.
15. Make our business plan readable
A great business plan should be compelling, appealing, informative, and inspiring. We should include the details without overwhelming them. Use the attachments for the details, like resumes that block the body of the plan.
Be careful about spelling, grammar, punctuation, and part of speech. Secondly, get a second and third set of eyes to give us valuable feedback. Don’t be so miserly with charts, graphics, illustrations, and tables. They are helpful visual elements to perform our data more legibly.
16. Learn UI and UX concepts from basic
UX and UI design are a fundamental part of our brand’s closeness. Having a thoughtful and accessible design in both our visuals and functionality will help our company to succeed in our business plan increasingly.
We need to understand how to attract them to the most fantastic experience through capable web and mobile apps. Indeed, knowing the difference between UX and UI is a good start. What’s more, if you want to succeed in your product, you can learn how to include decals to boost your brand awareness.
17. Don’t make our business plan complicated
Imagine we are in the speech contest with one minute talk. What would we say? Or, if we had to summarize our business plan on one page, what would we write? Both illustrations are crucial questions for us.
Pages to pages of market analysis sometimes don’t create anything to clarify their strategy. Think about it carefully, especially when we will make a cash flow before running out the money.
18. Think about the essence of the business plan instead of the form
Instead of worrying about the form, what matters is the substance. For example, when we spend many hours looking for templates on the Internet, we have waste time. We don’t need a fancy template, and a simple document will satisfy. Besides, the essential things are a wholesale product, a logical and practical method to grow our business plan.
19. Break down our action plan
For example, we break down the marketing objective into a particular segment to know how it runs to be accomplished. This action is potent because it defines the focus and sets potential targets that we measure.
Besides, being organized can complete tasks effectively and stay on top of everything. The primary step to start is by creating a daily to-do list. Also, it is a simple and effective way to keep focus without forgetting anything quickly.
20. Point out our progress
After receiving the progress, we should keep it up by maintaining it to be a living document. Most importantly, keep it as a portfolio or wherever we take it around. If we have accomplished our excellent job, then our business plan will be achieved as an expanse. Plus, it will guide us on what we will invest the time in every single day.
21. Join with the community
The achievement of your small business is a part of joining the community. When we enter a new geographic market, we can win over by observing the firms in the area. On top of that, we also use strategic testimonials, certifications, and professional pitch decks to earn trustworthiness.
22. Don’t just gain customers. Hold them
However, our customers are part of our soul in our business; we hold them like our close friends. Indeed, we need to keep them by:
■ Selling our goods or services to potential audiences via mass media, online, or printed publications.
■ Setting promotions like a discount, free trials, or a bundle package of products.
■ Creating referral programs where others get an incentive for introducing our business to someone else.
■ Producing top-notch customer services.
■ Building a brand that buyers want to stay, think like Apple.
Those are five tips to get you started, but let us know if you have more ideas for keeping your customers.
23. Employees are first
“Building a solid team is like we continue to innovate our brand,” said Vaynerchuk. Our employees are essential because they have a skill-set to keep our business running. Giving our employees happiness and well-being can create a work-life balance to do their job more productively. Secondly, we can provide our employees with independence and flexibility. Lastly, we can motivate them by complimenting them on their progress and making a trust-building. With those actions, we can grow our business plan faster.
24. Avoid business plan mistakes
People always make a mistake, and it is pretty okay. But it is fatal when it still makes the same error without repairing it better and is afraid to grow. So, here are five common mistakes small business owners make:
■ We overvalue our product or service
■ Entering our competitor without observing and planning
■ Not considering overlooked costs
■ Not preparing for profitability
Apart from those points, don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Think of our mistakes or bad experiences as part of the learning process and maturity, immensely to improve our business plan for the future.
25. Create a financial model
Secondly, a potential investor will look out for our projected numbers after going through our executive summary. Many entrepreneurs in the early stages of the business may refrain from setting long-term projections, which hardly works in their favor.
It may often come off as guesswork; however, the investors see the effort of planning for:
■ An increase in the size of the market
■ The appreciation in the production and operational costs
■ Fluctuation in prices of products and services
■ The profit margins
From popular television shows like Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den, entrepreneurs learn that investors need a concrete spending plan of the money they invest. Indeed, our numbers help investors and potential partners, such as a qualified business coach, to understand our ambition, idea, and rationalism in the business field.
26. Protect our cash flow
According to In Search of Solid Ground: Understanding the Financial Vulnerabilities of Microbusiness Owners, the key to successful small business is “a discipline in controlling our finances and business cash flow.” Take a look at the following points to ensure that our company has a good cash flow:
■ Improve our values.
■ Stimulate receivable models.
■ Enlarge receivable schedule.
■ Set inventory levels.
■ Get a loan when we need instant cash flow.
Besides, produce a cash flow plan for the next six-to-eight weeks to address any cash flow problems.
27. Control credit availability and authority
There will be moments when we need to secure our credit, like when we face a gap among receivables because of seasonality, inventory expansion, and business growth. Those issues can ruin our business growth, and we don’t have the cash in hand to return it. To overcome it, we should take control of credit for an emergency.
28. Use SWOT analysis for a better business plan
Conducting a SWOT analysis of our business is a lot more fun than it sounds. It won’t need much time, and doing it pushes us to reflect on our business in a whole new way.
SWOT analysis can develop a strong business strategy by ensuring we have considered the strengths and weaknesses, along with the opportunities and threats encountered in the marketplace.
29. Talk about our team
The best businesses that make it past the ten-year mark have one thing in common. They have a business plan, a good team, and a capable business leader. In investor circles, it is a common saying that they do not finance a business but invest in the people running it. Having the idea without a team will turn it into a reality that comes off as a business that will hardly get off the ground.
In addition to that, a team with strong relationships is vital to a business’s success, and investors push this point for startups and emerging companies. Including our team’s aspects in our business plan, we will have a high chance of getting funding from investors and attracting potential partners.
30. Upgrade our business plan
Everything has changed. We can’t predict what will happen later on. Our product or service may be outdated soon, making our financial situation lower than we expect. To anticipate it, we need to create new goals by moving forward in an organized and efficient way. These procedures can inspire us to forecast that possible thing:
■ Make a blueprint of our business to describe the concept, philosophy, and purpose.
■ Job responsibilities and discipline improvement
■ Scheduling meetings or tracking cash flow.
Hopefully, the three factors above will provide you with a clear explanation of your company’s processes to place you in the right policies.
What else do you need to improve your business plan?
Briefly, the best way to improve our business plan is to have an open and positive mindset. Most entrepreneurs write business plans to get funding, while others use them to run their businesses. Similarly, some areas will need some additions in generating your business plan, while others will require tweaks. Hopefully, those guidelines above will help us in improving our business plan.
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Lauren Clarke writes this article. Lauren writes guest posts for several innovative brands and media outlets around the world. Lauren loves red wine, and bush walks, and meditating. You can find Lauren on Twitter.