In this article, we’ll discuss seven important steps you should take when building a business plan.
Building a business plan can feel like a monumental endeavor if you’ve never done so before–especially if you’re developing it for an audience. A well-considered, well-written sales business plan can make the difference between pipe dream and reality, especially if you’re using it to attract investors. Whether you’re building a business plan for yourself or for an audience, however, the parts and methods remain the same: in this article, we’ll discuss seven important steps you should take when building a business plan.
An executive summary provides a quick glimpse into your overall business plan, company profile, and future goals. In a formal business plan, it should be the first thing a potential investor or other interested party reads, but you should wait to write it until you have all the facts at hand to make it accurate and compelling.
Exactly what it says–a description of your company including information on what your business does, how it stands out from competitors in the industry, what markets and audiences you intend to service, and any names of note involved in the company. Like the executive summary, this can be written in advance and tweaked as you gather more information, or saved as one of the last things you write.
When building a business plan, understanding the market you’re entering is first, most vital step. You need to research what competitors are doing, what buyers are doing, and what changes are on the horizon that will shift everything. Knowledge is power in sales, and to build a plan for a thriving sales business you want as much as you can get.
When you write up this section of your plan, or any other, remember to consider the audience; you write differently for yourself than you do for small investors than you do for major finance gurus. Be detailed and positive in language your audience can understand.
How you structure your business can have a major impact on your outcomes. Investigate how others in your industry have arranged themselves, see what those businesses have excelled at or failed at, and adapt appropriately. Sometimes, how you organize your business can be what differentiates you from the competition and establishes your market, so think carefully on this.
There’s more to product considerations than ‘what is the product, who is it for’. You need to understand your product on a deep level, including unexpected uses and what it does differently from the competition. You also need a good idea of what goes into producing the product and moving it–product life cycle, production costs, etc.
There are countless ways for a business to market itself in the modern world. As a sales business, you’ll probably end up leveraging most of them to some degree. Investigate the competition, read up on new ideas, and determine how to advance. A clever marketing scheme or a sales team approaching a new audience can be the core differentiation when building a business plan, if you’re innovative enough.
Your plan doesn’t go anywhere if you can’t make the money work. That means sitting down after you’ve done all your research and figuring out what you can afford to do, what you can expect your returns to look like, and trying to polish and trim fat as best you can. If you’re seeking funding from investors, this needs to be as detailed and accurate as possible–and it needs to be worth the attention.
Know what returns typically look like in your industry and figure out how to reach that point. It takes something special to get investors to even consider funding a business plan that’s below industry standard for returns (if you have something like that, you probably already know you have it).
Claire is a Western University graduate with a background in recruiting, sales and customer service. As a Recruitment Consultant, her goals are to place the best people in the right roles resulting in satisfaction for both the candidate and client.