A business plan is an essential part of any company. It serves as the launch pad where you can flesh out your vision and mission statements, house enterprising ideas, and lay the plans for short- and long-term growth.
While the business plan creation process is often focused on details, the larger messaging of your plan is also worth considering. Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind to ensure that you write your business plan with a strong, clear message throughout.
1. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is often connected to a brand messaging strategy. Yes, it’s a marketing and sales element that helps guide your promotional efforts. However, that doesn’t mean it should only impact your marketing strategy.
On the contrary, the idea of “getting to know your audience” is one of the first things that should take place when starting a business. Create buyer personas that identify your ideal customer. Plot out how to offer a deep, meaningful customer journey that converts consumers with a problem into paying customers with your solution.
Your audience includes those reading your business plan
The idea of an “audience” goes beyond your future customers, too. You also want to consider the audience that will be reading your business plan. Who will you be showing the plan to? Potential investors? Future business partners? Contractors?
By identifying the audience that you’ll be catering to, you can fashion your business plan to speak to them directly. When discussing user intent and how to tailor content to the reader, digital marketing agency Hennessey Digital explains that “Your content needs to be front-loaded with the kind of information that signals to the user that you have the information or services they need.” In other words, make sure you know who will be reading your business plan and then tailor the information to proactively answer their queries and concerns.
2. Use strong, concise wording
You don’t want to spend time providing unnecessary explanations or going off on rabbit trails. That’s why, as you demonstrate your knowledge, you should try to do so succinctly. Being selective with your wording is the best way to communicate a clear, confident message. If you’re wordy or verbose, your bigger point can often become watered down and confused.
As you define your audiences (both your target customers and those who are reading your business plan) and work out specific market and financial data (more on that in a bit) consider what to include. Weigh each fact and figure and decide if it adds to the greater message of your plan or if it just muddies up the message.
Is the information vital to your plan?
This can be more complicated than it sounds. A statistic might be important for your business decisions but not critical for your business plan. For instance, you might need to know what it costs to rent a warehouse. But that specific piece of information may not be needed on your plan, where larger financial figures and projections are more impactful. Make sure that each fact, each sentence, each phrase, and even each word is in your business plan for a reason.
If you’re ever unsure if something is important to your plan, it may be best to have someone review your plan. Ask them if that detail, chart, or piece of information helps sell the idea or just distracts from your core message. Remember, you can always include extra, non-essential information in your appendix.
3. Take time with your vision
If you want to make an impact on your readers, reflect a passionate and clear vision throughout your business plan. As you write executive summaries and describe goals and objectives, always connect them to the greater purpose of your organization.
If you haven’t defined your company’s vision yet, take the time to write out a mission statement before you compose your larger business plan. According to eCommerce giant Big Commerce, a mission statement “should tell others why the business exists and what makes it different.”
For instance, simply “making a profit” isn’t a good mission statement on its own. Neither is “operating at peak efficiency” or “hiring the best talent.” Instead, you want your mission statement to explain why you’re doing what you do and how you plan to do it better than the competition.
Identifying your USP (unique selling proposition) is a great way to start this process. Consider what it is that uniquely sets your company apart from the competition. Do you offer better customer service? Is your product made with superior materials? Do you have more experience?
Once you know your USP, you can weave it into your mission statement. Then use that statement to inform each aspect of your business plan and give it a clear, well-communicated direction.
4. Demonstrate detailed knowledge
Thus far we’ve talked about knowing your audience, using the right verbiage, and fleshing out a clear vision for your business. All of these are important tools, but none of them will hold water without strong facts to support them. That’s where detailed information comes into the picture.
If you want to create a powerful business plan that sells your ideas, you need to infuse it with the right information. Now, as already discussed above, the need for detailed knowledge does not equate to information overload.
Instead, take the time to consider what data is worth including in your business plan. This can consist of several things, such as:
- SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
- The metrics that can be used to gauge your success or failure over time.
- Financial aspects of your company that potential investors might want to see.
- Relevant market research from your industry, supply chains, target audience, and so on.
- Examples and case studies that you’ve gathered in the run-up to launching your business.
Relevant information that speaks to your target readers serves as the glue that holds your business plan together. It reinforces sentiment, defines how you’ll reach goals, and adds weight and authority to your case.
Define the purpose of your business plan
A business plan is a key part of any business. It provides purpose and direction for your initial team. It can also be an instrumental tool to get funding. Even when your business is off the ground, a competent business plan can continue to guide your decisions as you go along.
So consider what elements of your business plan are lacking. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you writing for your target audience?
- Have you used short but powerful wording?
- Is your vision reflected throughout the document?
- What details have you included to reinforce your case?
If you can answer these four questions with confidence, you can win individuals over to your vision, pursue funding with confidence, and operate with a business plan that is worthy of the best of enterprises.