It can be overwhelming to put pen to paper and come up with a workable, detailed and water-tight business plan. You know it's important because without a plan you have no direction, and in addition to that, you've been told by every business guru around that without a plan you are doomed to fail.
It’s important to have a business plan, but writing one doesn’t have to be daunting. If you’re lacking motivation, here are some ways you can make the process fun and rewarding:
If you’re procrastinating, change the way you’re setting your goals. Instead of, “I’ll write my business plan this week”, break down your big scary goal into a process. James Clear has some great advice on how to change your thinking and achieve more in the long run.
For example, “Every Monday and Friday, I will complete a section of my business plan.” So rather than having a goal to simply complete your plan, think of carving out time during the week to work on it. Before you know it, your business plan will be written! It may not be as fast as you had initially hoped, but by committing to writing on certain days, you’ll feel more satisfied and successful.
Coming up with ways to make writing less overwhelming will inspire you to write your plan sooner rather than later. You could try a combination of these ideas:
- Write from the first person. Throw in a lot of “I will sell…” “It is my belief…” etc.
- Don’t call it planning. Call it something else, mind-mapping, soul-searching, brain storming… whatever makes it more palatable.
- Not a writer? Use your smartphone and voice to record your plan and get someone else to type it up if need be.
- Incentivise the process (or call it what it is – bribery). Every section complete means you reward yourself with something.
- ‘Not specified or TBC’. Don’t be afraid to use these phrases and come back to it later.
- Just write it. Don’t worry about the structure and making sure you fill in all the blanks, just go for it.
- Use a variety of media. A business plan doesn’t have to be a 20-page block of text. Use video, audio, graphs, notes and diagrams to lay out your content.
- Use a variety of apps. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to online business tools. Consider an app such as Evernote or iMindMap to keep your plan visual, mobile, easy to access and add to.
- Done is good enough. Just get it done, don’t go for perfect… this document will always be a work in progress.
A really fun way of getting a complete business plan is the: “Your business plan in 10 tweets” method.
Since we live in the social media age you probably think and write in 140 characters anyway - use this to your advantage. Think of these categories as a tweet which you can come back to and flesh out where needed. Here are 10 categories that you can fill in - a total of 1400 words.
- Describe your business. (Value Proposition)
- What 'problem' are you solving in the market? (Market Need)
- Describe your product and since visuals sell, include an image. (Your Solution)
- Who is your competition and why is your product better than your competitors? (Competition)
- Who is going to buy your product? (Target Market)
- What's it going to cost? i.e. How much to produce the items, and how much are you going to charge your customer? Go for gold and decide how many you are going to sell and what profit you are going to make. (Financials: Budgeting & Forecasting)
- How are you going to market your product? (Sales Channels & Marketing Activities)
- What have you already achieved and what do you want to achieve? (Milestones)
- Time to introduce yourself - why are you the right person to lead the team? (Management Team)
- How much money do you need to launch the business and how are you going to spend the money? (Funding Needs & Use of Funds)
This method is a great way of getting at least a first draft. Once things are clear in your mind and on paper, it’s much easier to take each of these sections and dig deeper to make it more palatable for your potential investor.
If you look at writing your business plan from a different perspective, you’ll have fun, be inspired to write and have a clear direction for you and your business. It’ll be a win-win.
The Icehouse is all about practical and actionable learning: there’s no point writing a plan if you’re not going to do anything with it. If you’re in need of someone to help you build your business plan, or build a strategy to action it, we’ve got a catalogue of business coaches that have learnt through experience.