A well-written business plan is essential when starting a new business or seeking investment for an existing one. It outlines the company’s objectives, strategies, and projected financials, providing a roadmap for success. However, simply having a business plan is not enough. To secure funding from investors, your business plan needs to stand out from the crowd.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to ensure your business plan written gets noticed by investors.
We’ll cover key elements investors look for in a business plan, the option of writing a One-Page Business Plan, the vital importance of the Executive Summary, and the Benefits of Having Your Business Plan Written by Experts (like JTB Consulting). Business Planning for Small Businesses and Large corporations follows the same critical path.
By following these guidelines from the desk of Dr Thommie Burger (Founder of JTB Consulting), you’ll be well on your way to creating a business plan and implementing a business planning strategy that catches investors’ attention and helps you achieve your entrepreneurial goals.
15 Key Benefits of Having Your Business Plan Written by Business Plan Experts
Clear direction and focus: Experts can help you clearly define your business goals, target market, and key performance indicators, which can help you stay focused on what’s important.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without a clear direction, the business may lose focus and direction, leading to missed opportunities and decreased productivity.
Professional presentation: An expert can help you create a professional, polished business plan to impress investors and lenders.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: A poorly written or presented business plan can make it difficult to attract investors or secure funding and hurt your industry reputation.
Comprehensive market analysis: An expert can conduct thorough market research and analysis to help you understand your industry, competition, and potential customer base.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without a comprehensive market analysis, you may not clearly understand your competition or target market, which can lead to missed opportunities or wasted resources.
Financial planning and forecasting: Experts can help you create realistic financial projections and develop a solid financial plan to help you achieve your goals.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without a sound financial plan, the business may struggle to manage its finances, resulting in cash flow problems and missed opportunities.
Objective feedback and insights: Experts can provide unbiased feedback and insights to help you identify your business model’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without objective feedback, the business may overlook potential problems or miss out on valuable opportunities.
Accountability: Having an expert work on your business plan can help hold you accountable for meeting your goals and staying on track.
- Risk of not using a Business Planning Expert: Without accountability, the business may struggle to meet its goals or focus on important tasks.
Legal compliance: Experts can help ensure that your business plan complies with all relevant laws and regulations, reducing the risk of legal issues down the line.
- Risk of not using a Business Planning Expert: Without legal compliance, the business may face legal challenges that could damage its reputation or even result in legal action.
Improved communication: Working with an expert can improve communication within your team, helping you articulate your vision and goals more effectively.
- Risk of not using a Business Planning Expert: Without clear communication, the business may struggle to align its team and achieve its goals, leading to wasted resources and decreased productivity.
Competitive advantage: A well-written business plan can give you a competitive advantage in your industry, helping you stand out from the competition.
- Risk of not using a Business Planning Expert: Without a competitive advantage, the business may struggle to differentiate itself from competitors, decreasing market share and revenue.
Risk management: Experts can help you identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them, reducing the risk of unexpected setbacks.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without effective risk management, the business may be vulnerable to unexpected challenges that could derail its progress or even threaten its survival.
Scalability: An expert can help you create a scalable business model to grow and adapt as your business evolves.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without a scalable business model, the business may struggle to keep up with changing market conditions, leading to missed opportunities and decreased revenue.
Resource optimisation: An expert can help you optimise your resources, including your time, money, and personnel, to maximise your chances of success.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without resource optimisation, the business may waste resources on unproductive activities or miss out on opportunities due to lack of resources.
Strategic partnerships: An expert can help you identify and build strategic partnerships that can help you grow your business and increase revenue.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without strategic partnerships, the business may struggle to expand its reach or compete with larger competitors, leading to decreased market share and revenue.
Increased confidence and credibility: When you have a well-written business plan by experts, you gain more confidence in your business idea, which will translate to more confidence when presenting it to potential investors or partners. Additionally, having a professionally written business plan will lend more credibility to your business and make it easier to build trust with investors.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: If you don’t use an expert to write your business plan, it could lack the necessary professionalism and accuracy, which could hurt your credibility and make it harder to gain investor trust. It could also lead to a lack of confidence in your own abilities as a business owner, which could ultimately hold you back from achieving your goals.
Better understanding of business operations: A business plan written by experts will not only outline your goals and objectives but also detail how you plan to achieve them. This includes information on your target audience, marketing strategies, operational procedures, and financial projections. By having a comprehensive business plan, you will have a better understanding of all aspects of your business, which will make it easier to make informed decisions and identify potential areas for improvement.
- Risk of not using a Business Plan Expert: Without a well-written business plan, you may not have a clear understanding of your business operations, which could lead to poor decision-making and a lack of direction. This could result in missed opportunities, wasted resources, and ultimately, the failure of your business.
Streamline Your Business Strategy with a One-Page Business Plan: Our Top Tips
In this section, JTB Consulting (South Africa’s #1 Business Planners since 2006) takes a closer look at how to write a one-page business plan, what to include in it, and why it’s a useful tool for any business stage.
A one-page business plan is a condensed version of a traditional business plan that outlines the core aspects of your business. It includes all the essential components of a standard plan, but in a shorter and more focused format.
The goal of a one-page plan is to give you a quick, high-level overview of your business that you can use as a starting point. It’s a great way to get your ideas down on paper and start organising your thoughts.
What to include in your one-page plan
While a one-page plan is shorter than a traditional business plan, it still follows the same structure. Here are the eight necessary sections to include when developing your one-page business plan:
- The problem: A description of the problem or need your customers have and any relevant data that supports your claim.
- The solution: Your product or service and how it solves the problem.
- Business model: The business model refers to how you will make money, including the costs of production and selling, and the price that customers will pay.
- Target market: Who is your customer and how many of them are there? Define your ideal customer by starting with a broad audience and narrowing it down.
- Competitive advantage: What makes you different from the competition? Explain how this will lead to greater success, customer loyalty, etc.
- Management team: The management structure of your business, including currently filled roles, ideal candidates, and any management gaps.
- Financial summary: Key financial metrics include your profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet, and sales forecast.
- Funding required: Have what funding total you need front and center to clearly display what you are asking from investors.
Try to keep each section limited to 1-2 sentences or 3-4 bullet points to ensure that you stay within one page. It’s always easier to add more later rather than cutting back from lengthy sections.
Why you should start with a one-page plan
Here are some reasons why you should start with a one-page plan:
- It’s faster: A traditional business plan can be a lengthy, complex document that can take weeks to create. In contrast, a one-page plan is a concise document that can be completed in a matter of hours or even minutes. It allows entrepreneurs to quickly get their ideas down on paper and move on to the next steps in their business development.
- It’s a great format for feedback: Providing a lengthy, detailed business plan can overwhelm potential partners, investors, or customers. A one-page plan is an easy-to-read document that can be shared with anyone who needs to know about the business. It’s a great format for gathering feedback, as it allows others to quickly grasp the key concepts of the business and offer their opinions.
- It’s easy to update: As a business evolves, its plan must evolve with it. Updating a traditional business plan can be a daunting task, but a one-page plan can be quickly and easily revised as needed.
- It’s direct and to-the-point: The best business ideas are often the simplest ones. Writing a one-page plan forces entrepreneurs to focus on the core elements of their business and communicate them in a clear and concise manner.
- It works as an idea validation tool: A one-page plan is a useful tool for testing and validating business ideas. As the business owner gathers more information about their target market and their competition, they can refine their plan and adjust their strategy accordingly.
- It becomes an outline for a detailed plan: If a more detailed plan is required later on, the one-page plan can serve as a starting point. It provides a framework for a more in-depth document, which can be expanded and fleshed out as needed.
- Very few investors will initially read a long business plan: Traditional business plans can be too long and too complex to be useful. Investors and partners are often more interested in the key elements of a business and less concerned with every detail. A one-page plan provides a clear and concise overview of the business without overwhelming the reader with unnecessary information.
- It’s useful for any business stage: Whether an entrepreneur is just starting out or looking to grow their business, a one-page plan is a useful tool. It can serve as an internal strategy document, a pitch to potential investors, or a flexible management tool that can be adapted over time.
How to Write an Executive Summary: A Comprehensive Guide
An executive summary is a brief introduction and summary of your business plan. It introduces your business, the problem you solve, and what you’re asking from your readers. Anyone should be able to understand your business by simply reading this section of your plan.
In this post, we’ll show you how to write an executive summary that is effective, concise, and easy to understand. We’ll cover what to include, why you should write it, how long it should be, and provide some tips to help you create an SEO-friendly executive summary that stands out.
What to Include in Your Executive Summary
- Business Overview or Mission Statement: Start with a one-sentence description that explains what you do, why you do it, and how you do it. You can also include your mission statement here.
- Problem: Summarise the problem you’re solving in the market and reference any data that solidifies that there is a need.
- Solution: Describe your product or service and how it addresses the problem you identified.
- Target Market: Who is your ideal customer? Describe who they are, how they’ll benefit, and why they’re an attainable customer base.
- Competition: Who are your competitors? List out any primary competition as well as alternatives that your customers may consider. Include key details about their current offerings, promotions, and business strategy.
- Your Team: Outline your organisational structure and current team. List out brief explanations of who you and your team are, your qualifications, and what your function will be within the business. It may be valuable to also highlight any gaps in your team and how you intend to fill them. If you have potential partners or candidates in mind, briefly mention them and expand on their qualifications within your full business plan.
- Financial Summary: Highlight key aspects of your financial plan that address sales, expenses, and profitability. Try to keep these in chart or graph form to ensure the information is easy to consume and resonates visually. You can always reference that additional information is available in your full financial plan.
- Funding Requirements: This section is only necessary if you’re seeking out funding or pitching to investors. Be sure to throw out your financing number and reasoning upfront, rather than hiding it later on in your plan. It helps investors understand your position, what you’re asking for, and how you’ll use it.
- Milestones and Traction: Add initial sales, pre-sales, newsletter sign-ups, or anything else that showcases customer interest. Outline what steps you’ve already taken to launch your business, the milestones you’ve hit, and your goals and milestones for the next month, six months, year, etc.
Why Write an Executive Summary?
The executive summary provides quick access to critical information from your more detailed business plan. It is essential for informing anyone outside of your business. Many people – including investors and bankers – will only read your summary. Others will use it to decide if they should read the rest. For you, it is a snapshot of your business to reference when planning or revising your strategy.
Now if you’re writing a business plan solely for internal use you may not need an executive summary. However, some internal plans – such as an annual operations plan or a strategic plan – benefit from having a summary. Executive summaries should be as short as possible. Your audience has limited time and attention and they want to quickly get the details of your business plan. Try to keep your executive summary under two pages if possible, although it can be longer if absolutely necessary.
Here are some additional tips for writing an effective executive summary:
- Start with a strong hook: Grab the reader’s attention with an interesting fact or statistic that sets the stage for the rest of the summary.
- Keep it concise: Stick to the most important information and avoid going into too much detail.
- Use simple language: Write in a way that is easy to understand, avoiding technical jargon or buzzwords. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that your audience may not be familiar with. Use simple, clear language that anyone can understand. If you must use technical terms, be sure to define them clearly.
- Highlight the key points: Make sure to include the main ideas and conclusions of the report, focusing on what is most important.
- Be specific: Provide specific examples or data to support your conclusions and make your summary more convincing.
- Know your audience: Tailor your summary to the needs and interests of the people who will be reading it.
- Use bullet points and headings: This can help break up the text and make it easier to read.
- Use a consistent tone: Make sure your summary has a consistent tone and style throughout.
- Edit and proofread: Be sure to revise and edit your summary carefully to ensure that it is error-free.
- Consider hiring a professional: If you are not confident in your writing skills, consider hiring a professional writer or editor to help you create an effective executive summary.
- Be specific: While your summary should be short, it should also be specific. Avoid vague or general statements and focus on providing concrete details that give readers a clear understanding of your business and its potential. Use numbers, data, and specific examples to support your claims.
- Highlight your unique value proposition: What sets your business apart from the competition? Be sure to highlight your unique value proposition in your executive summary. This is the key selling point that makes your business stand out and should be a central focus of your summary.
- Edit, edit, edit: Once you’ve written your executive summary, go back and edit it carefully. Cut out any unnecessary information and make sure your writing is clear, concise, and easy to read. Ask someone else to read it over and give you feedback, and make any necessary revisions.