Crafting a winning Business Plan
Crafting suggests a skill in doing or making something and require knowledge. Crafting a meaningful and winning business plan hence takes thought, time and resources, and craves both business knowledge and market intelligence to do the job right.
In short, a business plan should outline the market opportunity as well as your goals, size up the competition, clarify your proposed actions and outline the business case.
The difference between a Strategic Plan and a Business Plan?
OnStrategy is an online strategic planning tool. An article in their blog suggests that a strategic plan is primarily used for implementing and managing the long term strategic direction of an existing organization while the business plan is more operational. We find their reasoning helpful to quickly outline the difference:
A business plan is normally used to initially start a business or new business within an existing organization. The two plans cover different timeframes as well. A strategic plan generally covers a period of 3 to 5+ years, whereas a business plan is normally no more than one year.
A strategic plan is used to provide focus, direction and action in order to move the organization from where they are now to where they want to go. Whereas a business plan is used to provide a structure for ideas in order to initially define the business.
A strategic plan is critical to prioritizing resources (time, money and people) to grow the revenue and increase the return on investment. Whereas a business plan is critical if the business is seeking funding, internally or externally.
A strategic plan focuses on building a sustainable competitive advantage and is futuristic in nature. Whereas a business plan is used to assess the viability of a business opportunity, and is more tactical in nature.
More about strategy and strategic planning can be found in an earlier article (in Swedish): Vad är Strategi?
The structure of a winning business plan
Want to create your own business plan and don’t know how to structure it? Good news is that there is help to get. There are several templates as well as DIY online tools for creating your own business plan. One example is the Palo Alto based Bplans.com, which is actually a great tool for entrepreneurs. Bplans.com also have 500 free business plan examples to inspire your thinking.
Bplan.com outlines the following content in a winning business plan:
1. Executive Summary
This is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only 1-2 pages. Read more »
2. Company Overview
The company overview provides a quick review of the company’s legal structure and location, as well as some background on the company’s history if you’re writing the plan for an existing business. Read more »
3. Products and Services
What are you actually selling and how are you solving a problem (or “need”) for your market? Read more »
4. Target Market
Who are you selling to? If there are multiple market segments for your business, this is where you flesh out the details. Read more »
5. Marketing and Sales Plan
How are you going to reach your target market? What marketing and sales tactics will you be using? Read more »
6. Milestones and Metrics
If you’ve accomplished some key milestones in the process of building your business, detail them here. This chapter also defines how you measure success. Read more »
7. Management Team
Investors look for great teams in addition to great ideas. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire. Read more »
8. Financial Plan
Your business plan isn’t complete without a financial forecast. We’ll tell you what to include in your financial plan. Read more »
If you need more space for product images or additional information, use the appendix for those details. Read more »
A structured template can be very helpful in structuring and well as sharing your message. Coming back to the where we started, truly crafting a meaningful business plan however takes thought, time and resources and craves both business knowledge and market intelligence to do the job right from the beginning.
Need guidance or help in developing insights and skills for strategy development and business planning? We can help our team on the way. Contact us to learn more.