You shouldn't write a business plan without advice from the pros. Entrepreneurs who have been in your shoes know what it takes to write a winning plan and what mistakes to avoid so that you don't produce a worthless document. Before you begin writing, you should consider the following advice:
Learn from Your Competitors
Learning from your competitors tops the list of any business plan advice. There are some things that your competitors do well, and other things that they fail at miserably. You should learn both, and decide how the knowledge you gain might impact your business plan. For example, your competitors' weaknesses may be the basis for how your market or deliver products and services. You may even improve or alter your products and services in order to meet a need that they've missed. New entrepreneurs make the mistake of not studying their competitors. Don't make the mistake of thinking you're so unique that you can skip this step.
Start Your Plan with Customer "A"
Your business shouldn't be about you, and your business plan shouldn't be about you either. It's about customer "A." What are your customers' needs? How will you meet them? Who else wants to meet their needs? What will set you apart from that business? If your plan reads like a 30 page resume, then you've missed the point and you'll won't engage investors, partners or yourself in the long run. Keep customer "A" in front of you at all times when writing your business plan, and you'll produce a much better plan.
Get Reviews from Everyday People
Don't share you plan with only consultants or experts. Share it with your mom or dad, a former co-worker you trust, a friend or a family member. See whether they understand your business based on reading the plan. You'll see common sections of the plan that don't make sense to anyone, and you should rewrite those sections. You'll also see the sections that appeal to everyone, and you can strengthen them. Don't disregard the comments you get because you think that an investor or potential partner is more "sophisticated" and will understand the sections that everyone missed. The best business plan advice for new entrepreneurs is to keep it simple. Anyone, no matter their education or experience, will appreciate a simple to read business plan.
Don't Ignore History
You may have a brand new product on your hands, but nothing is new under the sun. Someone somewhere had a similar idea, solution or business model, and you need to find out what went wrong or what went right. Learn the history of your industry, especially as it relates to your business. Get statistics concerning profits, market analysis, growth and other factors that you'll discuss in your business plan. The advice here is simple: don't treat your business as if it exists in a vacuum, by ignoring history. You'll avoid the mistakes and learn from the success of others gone before you.
These are among the top business plan advice for new entrepreneurs, that you need to pay serious attention to.
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.