When it comes to writing a business plan, many people think of it as a chore a necessary evil they have to do before they can get on with the fun stuff. They see it as an obligation that ties their hands and limits their creativity.
But there’s another way of looking at this process: Treating your business plan like fiction will help you understand what needs to happen next for your company to succeed.
|1. Approach business plans with a creative and flexible mindset.|
|2. Emphasize adaptability over rigid adherence to initial plans.|
|3. Use business plans as guiding narratives, not inflexible rules.|
|4. Embrace the possibility of rewriting and adjusting plans.|
|5. Allow room for improvisation and creative problem-solving.|
Think Of It As A Story
Think of a business plan as a story. It should have a beginning, middle, and end. It should be exciting. You want to keep your reader engaged from start to finish, so you should make sure the story is interesting to read.
You also want it to be easy for anyone who reads it to understand what you’re trying to say. This means that the sentences are clear and concise, not overly complicated or convoluted by industry jargon (which will make them boring).
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It’s Not Your Vision Our Mission Statement
When people think of a business plan, they often think of its vision or mission statement. They may have taken some time to write something and then get it tattooed on their body. But writing a business plan and having an ancient-style tattoo are two different things.
Business plans are not personal statements of faith, values, and beliefs. They’re designed to communicate facts about your company what you do, who your customers are, how much money you make, and so forth to other people who want to know information about you so they can decide whether or not to give you money (and if so how much).
If those other people don’t trust the information in your plan enough for them to give themselves over 1 million dollars worth of risk on your behalf, then why would they be willing to give even one dollar? If someone did give me a million bucks right now I would probably buy myself some new clothes, but only because none of my old ones fit anymore!
Personal visions and mission statements aren’t suited for this purpose because they tend towards being either vague platitudes (“We will always do what’s best for our customers”) or details that are specific only within the context where they were created (“Our product launch strategy is focused around big data analytics.”).
Neither one provides any insight into how well those strategies translate into revenue generation or profit margins; thus neither one tells anyone else anything useful about what kind of deal maker/business person/strategic thinker/etc.
Look Forward To The Future
When you think about the future, try to do so with a sense of optimism and purpose. Instead of seeing challenges as obstacles, look at them as opportunities to grow.
Think about where your business could be in a year or five years what kind of impact would you like it to have? If you can learn how to think this way, then writing a business plan will be easier because it becomes more personal.
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Consider The Details Later
Let’s say you’re writing a novel about a detective. You’ve created the character, and set up their backstory and motivation, but you don’t yet know who killed whom or why. This is where you let your imagination run wild. You have your central plot idea in mind, but none of the details are locked down yet; they’re still possibilities that exist in the realm of imagination.
How do we apply this method to business plans? We need to start with what we know: our goal and our resources (money). Then we make assumptions about how much time it will take us to achieve those goals (we might say 3–6 months) and how much money it will cost us ($5K–$10K).
As we proceed with this new direction in mind, some details may come into focus while others remain blurry but if they don’t become clear soon enough, we needn’t worry about them until later on.
Leave Your Projections Loose
The first thing to remember about business plans is that you’re not alone in this exercise. You don’t need to be a numbers guru or have a degree in finance you just need the right tools and a willingness to learn. That’s what we’re here for!
We’ll walk through how to use our software, but the main takeaway should be this: don’t get too caught up in the details at this point.
The most important thing is that you’re comfortable with your assumptions and that they make sense given your company’s industry, size, and goals. Don’t overthink the numbers; they can always change later once you’ve gotten feedback on your plan from others within your organization or outside of it (more on that later).
Will there still be some projections? Absolutely but don’t try predicting exactly what will happen next quarter or next year when it comes down to it. Remember: these are only estimates based on best guesses about things like consumer behavior, and competition trends, so leave yourself room for error!
Don’t Make Your Plan Too Rigid
Business plans, like fiction, are fluid. They change over time. By their nature, they’re a snapshot of the current state of your business and they’re not meant to be a roadmap for future success that’s why you want to read them with an open mind and keep in mind that they’re always evolving with your business.
Business plans are also supposed to be flexible; it’s okay if you don’t get every detail right on the first try. The point is that everyone involved in your company understands where you need to go from here and what kind of steps will get us there.
The best way to think about business plans is as guides; they help you make decisions and communicate clearly with investors, partners, and employees (or whoever else is involved).
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Bring In An Industry Expert To Edit It
You’ll want to bring in an industry expert someone who’s been there, done that, and has the scars to show for it. They’ll be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t, or whether your plan is even viable.
If you’re starting a new business, consider hiring a specialized editor who can help with all aspects of the business plan from writing style to content flow and design. This kind of professional will have experience working with startups and small businesses, so they know exactly what questions need to be asked when it comes to getting started on the right foot.
Get Your Financials Right, Even If They Aren’t 100% Accurate
It’s important to get your financials right, even if they aren’t 100% accurate. Be conservative when estimating your growth and realistic about your projections. Don’t make them too conservative, don’t make them too aggressive, don’t make them too precise (unless you have historical data), and don’t make them too vague.
You can look at other companies in the same industry as yours for guidance on what might be reasonable pricing or sales estimates are given their revenue numbers but don’t base all of your projections on one company’s numbers, especially if that company has done something unique that has contributed to its success that may not happen again.
When it comes to setting costs for services or products, try to use actual quotes from vendors as much as possible instead of just making up numbers out of thin air (and then trying not to blink when someone asks how much it costs).
Remember That You’re Painting A Picture Of A Business
A business plan is not a business plan. It is a picture of your business or a plan for your business. True, you have to have some of the details filled in before you can begin painting this picture, which is why they call it “planning” (get it?).
But there’s more to it than just numbers and projections. You need to do some serious thinking about how things will work at every step along the way from start-up through exit strategy before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
This isn’t something that happens overnight; it takes time for creative people like you and me to get into our heads about what we want our businesses to look like when we’re done building them up from scratch.
So be sure not only that each section of your document has something meaningful behind it but also that there are enough subheadings within those sections so that readers can find their way around easily without having too much information thrown at them all at once!
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It Can Be More Exciting Than You Think
Business plans are often depicted as a tedious necessity, but they can be more exciting than the worst movie you’ve ever seen. The reason? It’s because business plans are a way of seeing the future.
They’re an exercise in imagination a chance to see what could be rather than what is. And while it’s easy to dismiss this as theoretical thinking or “predictive analytics,” it’s also true that if you don’t imagine a future where your business is thriving, who will?
Treating Your Business Plan Like A Work Of Fiction Will Help You Understand What You Need To Do And Where You Need To Go
Treating your business plan like a work of fiction will help you understand what you need to do and where you need to go.
A plan is something that is designed, not written down. In other words, it’s the result of thinking through all the possible scenarios that could happen in the future. It’s not something that was written down before they happened (like a history book).
A history book tells us what happened, but a business plan tells us what might happen and how we should react if things don’t go according to plan. That’s why we call our business plans “works of fiction.” They’re just a story about how things could play out!
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So, treat your business plan like a work of fiction. It’s not the story of how you got here, but it is the story of where you want to go. The details can come later.
You don’t have to outline everything in black and white right now in fact, it’s better if you don’t! Instead, focus on painting an exciting picture for yourself and others who may want to join you on this journey. And remember that just like any good novel or screenplay ends with “the end,” your business plan should leave its readers wanting more too.
How to Write a Business Plan: Learn the essential steps and best practices for crafting an effective business plan that sets your venture up for success.
The Purpose of a Business Plan: Discover the key reasons why a well-crafted business plan is crucial for guiding your business towards its goals and attracting investors.
Sample Business Plans: Explore a collection of sample business plans to gain insights and inspiration for creating your own customized and professional plan.
What are the essential components of a business plan?
A business plan typically includes components such as an executive summary, company description, market analysis, product/service details, marketing and sales strategies, financial projections, and a comprehensive appendix.
How do I create financial projections for my business plan?
To create financial projections, gather historical financial data (if available), estimate future sales and expenses, calculate profit margins, and analyze industry benchmarks. Utilize financial software or seek professional assistance for accurate projections.
How long should a business plan be?
The length of a business plan can vary depending on the complexity of the venture and the intended audience. Generally, it is advisable to keep the plan concise and focused, aiming for around 20 to 40 pages.
What is the role of market analysis in a business plan?
Market analysis helps identify target customers, assess competitors, and understand industry trends. It provides valuable insights to tailor your product or service offerings, develop effective marketing strategies, and establish a competitive edge.
How often should I review and update my business plan?
Regularly reviewing and updating your business plan is essential to keep it relevant and aligned with your business’s progress. Aim for at least an annual review, or when significant changes in the market or your business occur.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.