Article

Take the Pain Out Of Business Plan Writing

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

Download Now

Many entrepreneurs dread the thought of writing a business plan. It can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start. However, if you need traditional financing to get started, the business plan will be a necessary step for your business to get off the ground or grow. It doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it can be enjoyable and it can really help you evaluate the opportunity.  Your business plan can also act as a roadmap, helping you communicate to investors and partners, and build confidence that you are pursuing something worthwhile.

How Do You Make It Fun?

There are many ways to get information for your business plan that don’t involve Google, late nights, and too much caffeine. Be creative and get out from behind that desk.  For example:

Talk to your potential customers: Find out where they spend their time and get involved. Ask them questions, get to know what’s important to them, pre-sell them something, get a verbal commitment to purchase from you, or collect their email addresses before you launch. Your customers are the people that will make or break your business. Learn about them and learn to love them!

Be around fellow entrepreneurs: Attend business events, business plan working groups, get involved in community programs designed to support new entrepreneurs, find other entrepreneurs at meetups, or seek out any other events that will surround you with other people who are taking chances and pursuing their dreams. This is key!

How Do You Get Started?

You can download a business plan template and start populating it, use free online business plan writing tools like this one, or sign up for some seminars at Small Business BC. The most important thing is that you get started!

Once you have made the commitment to start your plan, you can make it easier on yourself by focusing on the three following areas: Product/Service Description; Sales Forecast; and your Promotional Strategy.

  • Know what you offer (Product/Service Description): Provide a clear, concise description of your main one to three products/services. If you have many different products/services, package them up and use an average price to make it easier to forecast your sales.

For example, if you are a renovation company, you might offer all kinds of renovations. In your plan, package it up into a service that you might ‘lead’ with and put an average price to it. E.g. ‘Bathroom Reno Package: $10,500’ or ‘Kitchen Reno Package: $22,000’. Then proceed to describe exactly what is included with each of these product/services and how you arrived at those average prices.

The purpose of this section is so that someone reading your plan can easily understand the details around what you are offering and what people are getting for their money.

  • Know how many you will sell (Sales Forecast): Forecast the number of each product/service that you will sell per month. To simplify the process, use the cashflow template that is recommended by the financial institution you are looking to borrow from. This will make it easier for the person evaluating your plan to understand and process your application.

One way to approach your sales forecast is to start with what you NEED to sell each month. Detail your business expenses, find out how much you personally need to draw from the business as a salary, then divide by the average cost per product to determine the number of units that you will need to sell each month to break even. Once you’ve done this you can start adjusting for seasonality, higher volume and appropriate growth. Finally, back your sales numbers up with a solid promotional strategy.

  • Know what you will DO to make those sales (Promotional Strategy): Detail the things you will do to get in front of your customers and help them make the decision to purchase from you.

List your top three or four main marketing strategies that you plan to perform. Include details like, type of interaction; steps involved; frequency; costs involved; materials used; how and why each strategy will convert to paying customers, and how many customers you can expect to gain from each strategy.

Make sure these strategies reasonably support your sales forecast numbers. Tip: ‘having a website’ is not a strategy. What you will do to get people to visit your website would be the strategy to describe.

Once you feel confident on these three key areas of your business plan, the other sections will fall into place much more easily. The most important thing is that you get started creating your future and begin realizing your dreams and fulfilling your passions through your own business.

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

Download Now