A Great Business Plan: You'll Know It When You See It
Posted on 10/08/14 by Tara Palacios
A question I get asked most often by a large number of clients is, “What makes for a great business plan?” My answer is always the same. I tell them with a grin, “I know it when I see it.” At this point in my BizLaunch career, I’ve had the real pleasure of reviewing hundreds of business plans. It is true, I do know it when I see it; however, here are some of my recommendations to help you as you go through the process.
Great Business Plan Elements:
- Clarity, clarity, clarity. A great business plan includes very clear, concise information. If it’s not rocket science (literally), the reader should be able to easily grasp what you are trying to do. Tip: Think you are explaining to a young child the benefits as to why they should be eating vegetables.
- The devil is in the details. You need details, but only the pertinent details on the execution of your business. You need to convey that you know what you are talking about and have statistics to back it up…which leads us to the third element.
- You are the subject matter expert (SME). Yes, you are. Throughout your plan the information should highlight and reflect the fact that you are an SME. Brag, even if it feels uncomfortable. Tip: If this doesn’t come easily, watch a Shark Tank marathon. If there is no marathon – YouTube it.
- You wrote a business plan? Wow. Most entrepreneurs in this extremely competitive business environment do not write plans. Why? Mainly because the time it takes to write down a plan prohibits you from quickly launching your idea; however, the very fact you have written a plan will set you apart from everyone else.
- Clearly understand your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) of the Business, Target Market, Competition, etc. A key to understanding your business is to understand yourself and those around you. Tip: No rose colored glasses for this one. Once you completely understand who you are and who your clients are, you will be a success.
- Solid financials. If a number looks inconsistent you can explain why or can anticipate the question and be able to provide a logical answer.
- Feasible. This is taking your idea and building a foundation in order to execute the endeavor. If the plan is not feasible – there won’t be a return on investment. This is either a green or red light. Tip: after you’ve watched a Shark Tank marathon you will be able to tell if you would be willing to invest in an endeavor.
- Clearly Understand the Intended Audience/Reader/Investor etc. Who is the business plan for? If it’s to impress investors the business plan should reflect what they are looking for. The Executive Summary should clearly state how much investment you need and how you will be using those funds. If you are looking to secure a lease with your business plan, make sure you show in your financials that you have the capacity to afford the lease – even if the business does not succeed.