Writing a business plan is one of the first steps towards starting a business. These plans are essential even if you intend to start a micro or small business.
Although the emphasis on writing a business is usually at the start of a business, it is however not meant to be a static, one-time endeavor.
Your plan is expected to be updated as you grow and make big adjustments in your business. So, even if you wrote a business plan in 2021, maybe it’s time to update it for 2022.
Having worked closely with investors and written hundreds of successful business plans for clients, we’ll be sharing 20 insider’s tips to help you write a winning 2022 business plan.
1. Research the Basics
First, you need to research and be clear on how the business will operate and generate revenue in the short-term, mid-term and long-term scenarios of the business
2. Conduct Detailed Evaluation
Make detailed evaluation of your strengths (and how you can capitalize on them) as well as your weaknesses (and how you to manage or circumvent them).
Ultimately, you should be able to come up with a convincing Unique Selling Proposition that is built on your understanding of the dynamics of your strengths and weaknesses.
3. Write your Mission Statement
Your mission statement should express the purpose of your business, the core values that the business is founded on, and the corporate goals of the organization.
4. Include the Management Section
Here, you showcase your management team, their credentials or qualifications, position in the business, and responsibilities.
If you’ll be the only one running the business, you should make a detailed effort in discussing your key leadership, business, and technical experiences, and how these credentials will contribute towards helping you lead a team and run a successful business.
5. Conduct Thorough Market Research
Your market research shows investors or money lenders that you’ve done your homework. Your business plan should less of ordinary opinions, assumptions, and beliefs, and more on published data, survey analysis, and expert forecasts.
6. Distribution of Product & Service
Your business plan must not only provide a detailed explanation of the products/services that will be distributed but also how they will be distributed.
It’s important to provide thoughtful analysis of how they will reach the end users and your growth plan for reaching more audiences.
As a rule of thumb, the word “growth” is a buzzword that gets the attention of investors who are on the lookout for how they will profit from their investments.
7. Include a Proper Cashflow Analysis
Neglecting your cash flow could quickly land your business in financial troubles. It’s crucial to analyze your cash flow as it predicts the viability of your business growth plan and reveals ways to inject more funds into the growth of the business.
8. Add More Market insights
Include information on your target customers and how to reach them. Also include insights on the existing supply and demand, prevailing market conditions, and your top competitors.
9. Showcase the Budget
A business plan will be incomplete without including a budget. This is true for whether you’re just writing a business plan for a new business, or you’re updating an old business plan.
A budget provides you with a guide on what it will cost to operate your business.
10. Include the Management Process
In planning out your management process, you’ll need to include the include the size of your team amongst other details.
If you don’t have a team yet, you should include details on the size of the proposed team and how you intend on finding those talents.
11. Upgrade your knowledge with books
There are several great books on business planning that will educate you on not only business planning but also business modelling, business strategy, and innovative thinking.
Some of our favorites are The innovator’s dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen, Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim, and The plan-as-you-go business plan by Tim Berry.
12. Utilize Graphs & Charts
Adding graphs and charts in your market analysis can add some overall spark to your business plan and present your data more effectively, and interestingly, makes investors see your data as credible. Whenever you include a string of hard data in your business plan, always add a graph or chart.
13. Add Peculiar Information about your Products / Services (If applicable)
In cases where you might have a patent, award, certification, test result and other peculiar information about your product, ensure you include them.
14. Provide a Detailed Marketing Plan
A vital aspect of your business planning success is analyzing how to create awareness for price your products and delivering it in the hands of your ideal customers. Note that your marketing plan should include both strategy and tactics.
The latter involves step by step actions in achieving your marketing plan while the former details a general plan of action that aligns with your overall marketing objectives.
15. Conduct a Competitor Analysis
It’s good practice to dedicate a section of your business plan in analyzing your direct and indirect competitors, and highlight how your business is uniquely different from them.
16. Analyze your Operational Plan
In creating your operational plan, you will need to specify different units of your operations that affect the day to day running of the business – such as product sourcing, hiring employees, managing inventory, fulfilling orders, handling bookkeeping/finances, and so on.
17. Don’t Leave Out Risk Management
No business endeavor is without its risks no matter how lucrative the opportunity is. Highlighting the key aspects of your business that can expose you to risk, and how you plan to mitigate these risks makes it easier for investors and money lenders to approve your funding request.
18. Include your Exit Strategy
In business planning, an exit strategy is strategically planning how you will leave or sell the business in the future either to realize investment gains or to limit investment losses.
If you are seeking external funding for your business, it’s inevitable that you include a strong exit strategy to help investors and lenders know that their money is protected if your business fails
19. Critique your Business Plan
Don’t show your business plan to investors or money lenders until you’ve passed it around to team members and advisors – who should critique every aspect of the business plan repeatedly.
This practice prepares you to answer challenging questions that will be thrown at you when you are ready to pitch to investors. But beyond impressing investors, a well critiqued business plan gives you more confidence that your business will become successful.
20. Put your Best Foot Forward with your Executive Summary
Sometimes, the only section of your business plan that’s read by investors before making an investment decision is your executive summary.
Although it’s the first section of your business plan, you should complete it only after you’ve written other sections of the plan. And more importantly, you should ensure it captures all the key details about your business that could win the hearts of investors.
If you’ve new to writing a business plan, the process may seem daunting. But like most new challenges, writing your plan isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Recommended reading: How to write a business plan step-by-step.