Executive Education

Key Points to Writing a Successful Business Plan

Take the first step

You are not the first prospective business owner who feels inadequate for the task of producing a killer business plan. Millions of other entrepreneurs have once found themselves in the same seemingly hopeless situation, but guess what, with the help of family, friends and business professionals they have come through that ordeal, and today they have successful enterprises that are earning them a lot of money.

Research has indicated that the existence of a well-devised business plan can significantly increase the chances of a business owner to succeed with their business.

New business owners have an advantage over their predecessors because today there is an extraordinary amount of information available online which can be extremely helpful to prospective business owners as they set out to create their business plan.

Focus on your customer

It does not matter how good your product or service is unless you can successfully interact with your customer it is unlikely that the business will get anywhere. You should also carefully consider the reasons why a business plan is necessary. One reason is that it should provide the business owner with a concrete plan for the future of that business. The intensive research will be required to ensure that the product or service will be of value to potential customers in your chosen area of operations. When used to obtain funding the business plan should indicate why the business is expected to succeed. The market should address the needs of the various types of customers within the target area of the company and how their needs will meet the industry. Investors in the new production will be eager to learn what the chances are for a speedy return on their investment and they will have to convince that the new company will indeed meet their expectations.

Knowing your market

Assumptions are not sufficient when writing a business plan and neither can you base your business plan on the success of similar businesses because even though the products or services may be very identical, that does not automatically secure the victory of your activities. Each company differs in dozens of little ways, and every one of those differences will have an impact on the success of that specific business. That is why your target market has to research adequately, and you need to have data which can be substantiated so that there will be no doubt in the mind of potential investors that your business has the potential to succeed. You will have to accurately determine the size of your target market as well as the expected future growth of that market and how the market share of the business is likely to respond to market fluctuations. Whatever your intended industry will seek to accomplish, it will be essential to ensure that the company will be able to attract sufficient customers to provide a profitable business.

Dealing with fierce competition

Statistics show that over 50% of new businesses will fail within the first two years and your business plan needs to indicate why your business will succeed. Competition in every segment of the market is brutal, and you need to have a plan to deal successfully with this threat to your new business. How does the business model of the competition differ from your own business and what can be done to provide your business with an advantage? You may be in the fortunate position that there is little or no competition in your area but that situation may change, and you need to prepare if you want to keep your business profitable. What exactly is the game doing or are they able to provide the service or product at a low price maybe through favorable imports. You need to devise a solid strategy to successfully deal with all of these issues because only then will you be able to compete successfully in that market.

Minor details are important

The difference between a successful business and one that struggles is very often because minor issues overlooked. However, many small problems collectively become significant problems, which if not attended to can sink just about any business and this is why no detail is too unimportant to consider. Likewise, when it comes to your business plan, it is essential to find all angles and to be thorough in planning for all eventualities. The more details which cover in the business plan, the more comfortable will it be for investors to make speedy decisions regarding a possible investment and those details will also help the business owner to deal with future issues successfully. A well-devised business plan indicates to investors that they are dealing with a business owner who is competent and well prepared to run that business and to deal with all obstacles which may encounter. Do not make the mistake of making empty and foolish claims because investors will quickly find you out and this why all projections have to be realistic and should substantiate by solid market research.

Why is your business a viable investment?

This point is especially important when attempting to convince investors to take a chance on your business. Your business plan has to showcase the tremendous opportunities which are going to be exploited and also the potential profits which are going to generate. Your business opportunity has to be sufficiently attractive to ensure that the investor will choose to back your business rather than any of the other ventures seeking financial assistance. There are many investment opportunities for the wealthy today, and many of them provide safe, steady and long-term rewards, and unless your business can do better than these current opportunities, it is unlikely that you will receive the financial backing which your start-up business will require. You need to clarify the USP or unique selling proposition of your company which deals mainly with the reasons why your business with its unique products and services will be attractive to the consumer. Your personal custom business plan should provide compelling reasons why consumers would choose your company to do business with instead of your competition.

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Megan Batchelor
Executive features editor at The CEOWORLD magazine and lover of reality TV. I eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.