Starting a business without a plan is about as prudent as driving through a busy street at 100 miles an hour with your eyes shut.
A business plan isn’t just a fancy document to show possible investors. It’s also to keep you from hurting yourself and other people – your employees and customers.
The business plan identifies your goals and doubles as your blueprint to success. It helps you anticipate and prepare for fundamental changes in your model or the context in which you operate.
Without it, you are blinded to changes in some core parts of your business such as customer expectations, employee morale, regulatory requirements, competitive pressures, and economic changes, operating expenses etc. A good business plan will help you stay focused when any of these factors raise their head.
Below are steps a to help you write a watertight plan for your Nigerian business.
1. Start with the Executive Summary
You should introduce your company here by explaining what you. This segment should cover the highlights of your detailed plan.
In most cases, investors will ask for only the executive summary when they want to evaluate your business. That’s why you need to make sure that it’s as clear and concise as possible. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll follow up with a request for the complete business plan.
2. Write your company overview
In this section, you should include your mission statement, a review of your company legal structure and ownership, a brief history of the company (for existing company), and a summary of the business location.
3. Add your products and services.
What value are you providing?
This is the section where you need to sell yourself as a business to people reading your business plan. You should describe in detail the problem that you’re solving, your solution, and how your product or service fits into the existing competitive market.
You will also use this section of your business plan to reveal what distinguishes your solution from others, and how you plan to expand your offerings in the future.
4. Add a description of your target market
Now that you have detailed your product and service offering in your business plan, it’s time to define your target market. Which set of people are you going to be selling to?
It is advisable for you to do a bit of research, first to identify your market segments and then to determine how big each segment is.
5. Lay out a marketing and sales plan
You will have to design how you plan to reach your target market. How do you plan on selling to those target market? What is your pricing plan? And what types of activities and partnerships would you need to make your business a success? All these questions are to be answered in this segment.
6. Share your milestones
If you’ve accomplished some key milestones while building your business, detail them here. While milestones look forward, you will also want to take a look back at major accomplishments that you’ve had. This is an important section that can woo Investors. What this means is that your company has shown some evidence of early success.
Early success could be some initial sales, a successful pilot program, or a significant partnership. Sharing this proof that your company is more than just an idea is an evidence to show that it is going to be a success.
7. Share details of your team members
This section of your business plan is where you make your best case that you have the right team in place to execute your idea. This should show that you have thought about the important roles and responsibilities your business needs in order to grow and be successful.
This section should include a brief bio of each team member with their relevant experience and education highlighted. It’s important here to make the case for why the team is the right team to turn an idea into reality. Some investors like to bet on people rather than an idea in itself.
8. Spell out your financial plan
A business plan without a financial plan is like a soup without salt. Your financial plan should have monthly projections for the first 12 months and then annual projections for the remaining three to five years.
Your financial statements should show your projections of how much you expect to make in sales over the next few years. A personnel plan that will show how much you plan on paying your employees. The section should also show your total operating expenses, interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
9. Share more useful details in your appendix
This is a useful place to put any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes or other critical information that were too long or too out-of-place to include elsewhere in your business plan. If you have a patent or a patent pending, or illustrations of your product, this is where you should include the details.
Do you have other tips on ways to create a good business plan? Tell us in the comments.
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