How to Write Business Plans That Really Guide You
If you write a business plan only as a sales document, using it to get buy-in from investors, you are missing a great opportunity to create a document which works both for these external parties and your own guidance. Follow these tips to make sure your plan serves both your needs and their needs. Don’t Keep Two Sets of Books When creating the pro forma financial statements and revenue projections for your business, you should be optimistic, but realistic. This allows you to use the same numbers for your business plan and your personal targets and goals. If you are truly planning for different targets than those you tell funders about, you run the risk of becoming confused between these different sets of expectations and even misspeaking during talks with potential funders. Address Risks By carefully addressing risks that your business will face in your plan, you serve the needs of both funders and your own planning down the road. Funders will be happy to see you acknowledge the potential downsides for the business as long as you think creatively about how to eliminate or decrease the risks wherever possible. Doing this work becomes part of your company’s risk management plan which you should regularly update going forward. If you ignore or downplay risks you do yourself no favors. You can actually begin to believe these risks don’t exist when you ignore them long enough, making you ill prepared to face them when they come up in reality.
Schedule Your Launch Phase By planning not just for the costs involved in the launch phase, but for the timing of when you must accomplish the many tasks of the business launch, you will serve an important management task while making your plan more impressive to readers. The operations plan should detail the major milestones of the launch phase, and if your schedule is more detailed than needed here, it can be included as an appendix to the plan. Funders will be glad to see an example of your ability to juggle the many tasks involved with launching. As months go by, you can use this document to check your own progress and make sure you are on track to keep the launch date you have scheduled.