Business Plan Help
Starting your business plan. If you need business plan help then have a look through this page to help you develop great business plans with ease.
Before you even begin drafting your business plan just take a step back to think about why you are planning at all.
A lot of people will say they are develop their business plan for their bank. This is a fatal mistake for most business owners because the reason you plan at all .. is for you and your business.
Business planning help
So where on earth do you start? Firstly have a look at our online business plan structure to see what a good business plan consists of. This is all a business plan has and there is really no need to develop a 200 page tomb because no one will ever read it and it will be a complete waste of your time in writing at all.
Starting off, try thinking about marketing. Although marketing is extremely difficult to understand for most people it is actually the driver of any successful business.
Marketing is simply to "identify and satisfy customer needs".
Simple really !
So think about who you believe your customers are, what need they really have and what you are offering to satisfy that need. This is the basis for any successful business whether small or large. Those companies have researched and really understood who their customers really are (including age, location, gender etc), what they are REALLY looking for (not just a product, but the benefits in that product or service) and what offers they are providing so that they satisfy those needs 100%
If you can solve the above for your business then you are 50% towards completing not only a business plan but your business strategy.
Now you will have your customer profiles, their needs and the products to target. That's easy-ish to undertake. But take a look at your competitors.
You really can learn a lot about why they are successful.
List out your 3 or 4 main competitors and write down 4 or 5 strengths that they have and why you believe they have these strenghts at all. This is what they are doing best and it can range from excellent location, cheapest prices in the market place, great customer services, lowest cost, great brand name etc etc..
Now also do the reverse and list out their weaknesses. What do they do badly (or not so well).
From the above you'll have completed 50% of your SWOT analysis!. Not only that, but you'll be able to see how you can offer services to exploit your competitor weaknesses and if you want to improve upon your competitor strengths.
Sometimes a strength is not required by customers at all - or it may be too much of a strength. So have a look at everything and see where you can improve.
Do lots of research. Look at their websites, visit their premises, take all their literature, call their customer services. Find out everything there is to know. In larger companies they have a competitor intelligence unit - so obviously it's an important area to cover.
Completing your SWOT analysis
If you have your competitor strengths and weaknesses I am sure you'll be able to write down your own. If you are in business already this should be easy as you WILL be selling something so you must be doing something right!.
Next you'll need to highlight any opportunities and threats there are in your market place. These are outside of your control (whereas strengths and weaknesses are completely inside your control) so what customer groups can you go after? By analysing your customers in section 1 above you will have seen if there are any gaps — ie: customer groups with needs but are not being serviced at the moment.
Business Plan Finances
This can be mostly difficult if you have never produced any finances before. There are some excellent spreadsheets on the market these days (none are free unfortunately) and we can recommend Teneric sample business planning spreadsheets - you'll be able to produce 3 years finances with these.
Other business plan elements
In this article we have only covered the essentials but you'll also need to put together the following in your plan (see the business plan template highlighted above):
- 6 or 7 action plans for this year (no more)
- A marketing plan - how will customers hear about you?
And that's about it. Remember however to be realistic. Don't over do things with your forecasting.