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Common Business Plan Errors, And How to Fix Them

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Throughout my career, I have been on both sides of the business planning process – as a writer and as a reviewer.

As a writer, I know it’s hard to edit your own plan. Your business is your baby. You are too close to it and cannot be truly objective. Also, what makes perfect sense to you, may not make sense to potential investors, lenders, or partners.

As a reviewer, I have provided feedback to hundreds of clients and I have witnessed some common errors. Here are some tips to correct them:

Don’t underestimate your competition. 

Every business has competition. Don’t just consider direct competitors, but also identify indirect competitors. Think about the needs that your product and/or service fulfills and then think about any other ways that your customers could fulfill those needs.

Don’t just be like everyone else.

Clearly differentiate yourself from your competition. What is your Unique Selling Proposition or competitive advantage? How exactly is your business unique – in ways that matter to your target market? Why would people buy from you instead of from someone else?

Don’t think you’re selling to everyone. 

Segment your market into primary and secondary target markets. Define who your one primary target market is. Then define your secondary target market(s), but be precise and don’t fall into the trap of saying it’s whoever is left over.

Don’t make assumptions. 

Do your homework to determine the viability of your business concept. Use secondary research first by accessing published sources and then supplement your findings with primary “getting-out-there-and-talking-to-people” research such as interviews, surveys, and focus groups.

Don’t just quote a bunch of high-level stats.

Apply your research to your marketing plan. Once you’ve thoroughly researched your market, be sure to show how your findings will support your business. Based on your knowledge of your industry, target market and competition, what marketing strategy would most effectively lead to sales?

You want to determine that there really is an adequate market for your products and/or services and that your business will make money. You don’t want to jump into the deep end and hope you’ll be able to swim.

Get Started on your business plan by downloading Small Business BC’s Business Plan Template and Cashflow Forecasting Tool.

Download Now

About Cerina Wheatland

As a seminar speaker, writer and advisor, Cerina is passionate about guiding entrepreneurs through the exciting and challenging process of creating, growing and succeeding in their business.