A good business plan needs certain elements to ensure the growth of and enthusiasm of your business. You may be the only one who ever sees it, but a good business plan is your blueprint for success. Without one, your business could flounder and fail eventually. Avoid that by making sure your plan includes these elements:
1. Thorough Market Analysis
Know your competition, your niche and how your product or services will make a difference in the market. You're not working in a vacuum, although it feels that way sometimes when you're working from home. You have competitors, and some of them have a full staff and the marketing dollars behind them that you don't have. Don't get discouraged by this realization. A good business plan will address the issue head on with a thorough market analysis. You'll have to spend time on this portion of your business plan. Don't throw together numbers or rely on quick Google searches.
2. Precise Customer Profile
Your customers will make or break your business venture. It's important to know as much as possible about the customers you want to serve. One aspect of a not-so-good business plan is one that casts a wide net. It contains broad statements about customers, such as "females, ages 18 to 35." That doesn't mean much to you when you market your business. Be as detailed as possible when writing the customer profile, and go beyond artificial demographic information.
3. Financial Statements Based on Solid Research
When you haven't started your business yet, the financial statements you produce are pure conjecture. That's understandable, but a good business plan incorporates figures based on solid research. Some entrepreneurs don't rely on research, and shoot straight in the dark. Don't make up numbers for the sake of making up numbers. It will be your downfall, and wise investors and business partners will catch on to it and avoid the risk of giving you money.
4. Accurate Business Description
Forcing yourself to write an accurate business description will do wonders for your productivity and profitability. It's a mission statement that spells out what your business is and what it's not. In many ways, it's preferable to an executive summary, because it cuts right to the chase and lets everyone know your business identity. A good business plan will have a description of the business that could be given to someone outside your business to read, and that person would understand what your aims are. You know you've missed the mark when you give it to a friend or family member, and they can't tell you what your business is supposed to be about.
It's rare that your first draft will be a good business plan. Get to work on it early, especially if you're planning to share it with others in order to capitalize your business. Hire freelance editors or business plan writers if you need help, or to ensure that you've incorporated each of these elements effectively.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.