Don’t Look To Templates For Your Business Plan

Don’t copy somebody else’s plan. Think original and reap the benefits of clarity.

I get a lot of people asking me where they can find a good template for a business plan. My answer over the years has become more and more firm. You can’t.

That’s not to say there aren’t good plans out there. Of course there are, but the reason they’re so good is because they are perfectly suited to the aims and needs of their particular company. They might give you an idea of a basic set-up and topics to cover, but your ideal plan will look nothing like it.

Your perfect business plan is not arranged for others to learn from. Yes, you may need to show it to the bank, but you should not write it to convince others that you know what you’re doing. You’re writing the thing so that you can convince yourself that you know what you’re doing.

How To Write It

If you know where you want to be, then start from there and write backwards. Working in this manner will leave you far more enlightened over the necessary courses of action you’re going to have to face.

Keep to your original purpose and you’ll all your decisions will become easier, from where to invest your profits, right down to whether your offices should listen to Radio 2 or the local commercial station.

Working on the plan through the group is a great way to make sure you’re all on the same page and can give a sense of ownership, which is invaluable for your staff’s sense of belonging and investment in the business.

Keep your plan simple and keep it as short as possible. Don’t worry if this means your scrambling for words after a single side of A4. One meaningful word is worth a thousand meaningless one and is far less likely to annoy or confuse its reader.

Your plan should:

  • Clarify the purpose of your business.
  • Describe the business’ vision for achieving this purpose.
  • Explain why your business can do this better than anyone else.

It should also include:

  • An introduction to your top-level team.
  • A solid marketing plan.
  • A schedule for product development.
  • A Financial forecast, including the investment needed.

Have No Fear

When starting a new business, it can be extremely easy to get bogged down in the desire to be perfect. Dismiss this notion instantly, because it just isn’t possible. No big business started smoothly and they all learned from their mistakes.

So long as you’re doing something that no one else does, you’ll be fine. If you are doing something that someone else does, ask yourself why you’re going to join them, then do it better.

Image courtesy of flickr.com/photos/7295874@N03

Mick Barnes works for business plan advice site www.teneric.co.uk, a leading specialist in corporate business plans and helping UK businesses to improve.

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