Business ideas are only as good as the Strategic Business Plan behind them. Often, entrepreneurs are caught in the excitement of a new business venture but fail to follow through because of a lack of direction. A Strategic Business Plan outlines goals and timelines to make an idea thought up a reality.
Here are my 7 Tips for Writing a Strategic Business Plan you’ll not only find invaluable, but will actually use and not put in “File 13”.
Tip 1: Get Precise on Your Answers
When writing a Strategic Business Plan, you should be able to answer these questions:
- Who is your target market?
- What need do they have that you are trying to serve?
- Why will your product/service have a competitive advantage for that need in your target market?
Answering these questions will put you on the path to writing and completing your Strategic Business Plan. If you don’t have these answers defined, then writing the rest of the plan will be hard, and you will hit roadblocks along the way. Start with the basics and build on that!
Tip 2: Remember why You Started
Starting a business is stressful and painful enough. When you have to think through a formal Strategic Business Plan, it might seem tedious and uninspired. A vital tip for crafting a Strategic Business Plan is to remember why you started. What problem are you passionate about solving? What is the driver behind the need to see this business be a success? For me, getting my business off the ground was no easy task, but every time I wanted to give up, I thought about all the would-be entrepreneurs I would be helping and the SME problems I would be solving with my service. I kept that thought at the forefront of my Strategic Business Planning.
Tip 3: Get things Going!
Every Strategic Business Plan should be customised depending on what industry you are in! And please, oh please, forget about all the Business Plan Templates and Software out there or the so-called consultants that use them. If this is the route you want to take because you don’t want to hire an experienced Business Plan Consultant, then rather write the business plan yourself.
Some major elements you should account for are the business idea, market research, and finances (yes, a detailed Financial Projections Model that comply with Local and International GAAP). It may seem like a lot of question marks in the beginning but getting started is always the hardest part. Once you get the ball rolling, the rest of the plan will fall into place.
Tip 4: Start with the Executive Summary
The executive summary goes at the beginning of your Strategic Business Plan. It’s designed to hook readers with your idea, giving an overview of your plan. Here you explain industry trends and the competitors you’re up against. Who are your potential customers, and what are their characteristics? How will you target them? How many customers are you targeting? Will that number grow? Where do those customers shop at the moment?
Do you have any existing customers or confirmed orders? Market trends, i.e., how is the market changing? Is it growing? Talk about your pricing strategy and how you’ll promote your product and service. Which channels will you use, i.e., is it direct to the customer, online, or through other retailers? You might also want to include any outside advisors and experts you’re using, like accountants and consultants.
Tip 5: Use the Business Model Canvas (BMC)
I’m a huge fan of one-page Strategic Business Plans because every business idea needs validation and flexibility to evolve. My favourite one-page framework that captures Strategic Business Planning is the Business Model Canvas. From value proposition to finding product-market fit with a minimum viable product, the Business Model Canvas challenges business owners to validate their plan by speaking with actual customers before attempting to build the business. By learning first instead of jumping right into building a business, entrepreneurs can avoid wasting time and investment by focusing on the right things.
Another alternative to the BMC is an Investor Pitch Deck, that summarises your Business Plan in a short, concise presentation format. See one of our examples hereafter:
Tip 6: Review (and Revise) your BMC once a Quarter
Before spending countless hours and frustration writing a Strategic Business Plan, you need to know what you will use it for. There are many types of Strategic Business Plans, i.e., executive, managerial and operational. Are you looking to obtain funding for your business? What is the goal you want to achieve from your Strategic Business Plan? I believe all businesses should create a Strategic Business Plan. That will help you get focused on your business and purpose.
If you are not seeking funding, you can create a business model canvas (BMC). A full-blown Strategic Business Plan or even a BMC will really hone in on who you serve, how you serve them, and lay out a roadmap for your business. Don’t spend all those hours creating a Strategic Business Plan, then put it in a drawer. It is a working document that should be reviewed at least once a quarter to make sure you are on track to grow your business.
Tip 7: Focus on Revenue and Traction
The first goal for any business is to generate revenue. Giving enough attention to the analysis of product or service scope, sales projections, and pricing strategies is an acid test for any business.
It allows us to align expectations and stay reasonable with planning expenses. Now go out and start selling!