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How to make a business plan with ease

Whether you are hoping to start a business or you are a student doing a Business degree, you will at some point be expected to demonstrate that you can make a business plan. If this fills you with dread or even boredom, then you do not need to worry as it is simply a matter of breaking it down into small doable chunks that you can methodically work through.


The simple truth is that many small businesses fail because a properly researched business plan has not been put into place. It is amazing how many people plan many aspects of their lives e.g. their weddings, the layout of their kitchen, their holidays and even their essays but fail to plan their business before they begin it. Maybe, it is because they do not know how to make a business plan. At this point, you can start to feel pleased with yourself because by the time you have read this article, you will have a good idea of what you need to do.

In this article you will learn:

If you ask ten people in a room running different types of businesses about their business plan, the chances are that you receive a huge variation of answers, particularly if the people are from a variety of businesses. For instance, you may get one person that has written his business plan on the back of his prescription from the chemist shop. Alternatively, you might get the woman that has an MBA that swears you need a forty-page document that details all aspects of the business. In this article, you will be learning about making a plan that falls somewhere in between those two examples.

Why do I need a business plan?

A business plan, basically, is a map both for yourself and for other people too, such as potential financers. It is there to give you clarity and to illuminate the pitfalls that might prevent you from being successful. For instance, if you decided to set up a business teaching young Chinese children living in China the English Language, you might initially think that this is a great service that you could offer. You may have heard that they have to be able to pass an examination in English to get into the best schools so, therefore, their parents are prepared to pay out for them to learn English. You may even have heard that native English speakers are preferred.


Using this information, you would think that you would be on to a winning business idea. If, instead of making a business plan, you went ahead and set the business up, you may a year later wonder why you didn’t have much business. The reason is that apart from the fact that similar Chinese companies have flooded the market and are highly competitive on their home ground, you also have the problem of intense internet censorship in China. In other words, if you add the fact that the Chinese companies will be at the top of the internet searches mixed with the fact that you might not even get through to the Chinese market, none of your potential customers will see your website. This is just an example but can you see why you could waste a vast amount of time and money if you did not make a business plan?

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As mentioned earlier, a business plan is a map. It highlights what you do in the form of a business summary, it describes the market that you operate in and also your competitors. It focuses on your business structure. If it is a larger business, then it will explain your management structure too. Your plan will explain if your business is service or product based and go into depth about what they are. A clear marketing strategy and promotional sales drive will also be explained in your plan. It will also cover the financial side of your business. For instance, how much money will you need to finance your business for up to five years ahead? Sales projections are also expected in a business plan; these can be written in the form of graphs or balance sheets. If all of that has given you a headache, it does not need to because once these steps are broken down, they are easier to comprehend.

  • Business summary. This does not have to be pages of text describing your business. In fact, it is imperative that you keep it concise. Explain exactly what you do or offer, maybe a little bit of the past history if there is any and what you hope to do to improve or expand. Imagine it as an advertisement.
  • Your business portrayal. This is where you describe what you do. This is a useful way of gaining clarity about your business. Often, because business owners have not actually spent the time writing a detailed description of their business, they cannot see how their lack of clarity is being passed on to potential customers or clients. For instance, how many times have you watched an advertisement and you are not sure what is being offered? If large advertising companies can make product and service clarity mistakes, anyone can. A good way to test if you have written your business description clearly is to ask a number of people to read it and then get then to tell you back in their own words what your business is comprised of. If there is any misunderstanding, you know that you now have to write the description again. If this scenario seems unlikely to you, it isn’t. The reason for this is that the constantly changing face of technology means that more people are often unaware of what new products have to offer. Never assume knowledge on the part of your potential customers, make sure that your explanations are clear enough for a baby to understand. Otherwise, you could be losing out.
  • Research. This is an imperative part of your business plan. All of this would have been done before you began your business and it must be an ongoing part of your business development plan. You need to supply relevant information on the industry that you are part of. Furthermore, you also have to understand what the state of the market is and how it is possibly going to change. Another important aspect of your business plan, in this section, must be who your competitors are, what they are doing and why they succeed or fail. If your business plan is a model one for academic purposes; this is a chance for you to shine when demonstrating your research skills. Try to include both quantitative research and qualitative research and explain why you have used them to formulate your business plan. This will demonstrate an understanding of business research and how to eradicate potential pitfalls before the business is started.
  • Business structure. The amount of information that you will put in this section will depend upon the size of your business. For instance, if you are a solo operator that mends vintage jewellery from your home, you will simply need to state those few facts. Whereas, if you are a medium sized company that employs sales people, warehouse staff and management, you will need to describe how all these people fit into the business hierarchy, what they do and why they are needed. If you are writing a model business plan for academic purposes, then it is better to have a medium sized company as opposed to a solo trader then you can demonstrate your knowledge of company structure.
  • Services that you offer or products that you sell. This is a straightforward part of the plan. It is essential to analyse the effectiveness of the services or products in your business. The reason for this is that sometimes a product that sells well suddenly becomes redundant because of a change in technology or fashion. If it takes up warehouse space or website space or even makes your company look dated then you need to take action. Often, writing a business plan highlights these flaws within your company. Displaying an understanding of this in a model business plan that is written for a course will highlight your analytical skills and get you better grades.
  • Marketing and Sales. This is as important as the research stage. Without a marketing strategy, even the best idea could fail. It is a good idea, therefore, to be able to attack the market in various ways. This could include: running a promotional campaign for a product; extending the market for that product or introducing it into new regions; improve upon the product; introduce a new product; cross sell a couple of products by offering a discount if more than one product is purchased or have a content marketing promotional drive. In this section, you need to make a list of marketing ideas and then go into detail with each one. Be specific so that if it is your business that you are developing, you can take action or if it is an academic model, the reader will be clear about what you propose.
  • Funding application. Funding is often the most difficult part to deal with. First of all, you need to work out approximately how much money your business will need for the next three or five years. This depends upon your lender. If you are doing the business plan because you are applying for funds, you will need to follow their criteria. If you are doing it as an academic exercise, then you may not have the same restrictions. However, that depends upon your university.
  • Balance sheets and financial projections. This again covers finances and is often the part that people struggle with most. If you have not made a business plan before, it can seem incredible to have to predict how much money you will take in sales or from the services you provide, especially for a couple of years ahead. The best way to tackle this is by trying to be balanced. If you over estimate your sales by suggesting massive figures, you will not get funding or, in the case of a business model for academic purposes, the examiner will believe you do not know what you are doing. Alternatively, if you suggest that you will have hardly any sales because you are just starting a business, the loan provider will think that you won’t be able to repay the loan. By the same rule, the person reading your business plan if you are doing it for university will think that you have created a business that is not viable and you will not get a very good grade.

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