Let’s be honest – it’s pretty easy to get a business plan wrong, and very few entrepreneurs get theirs right with the first draft.
What’s more, a business plan should be a living, breathing document; it shouldn’t stand still as your industry evolves. Despite this, too many business plans end up being consigned to digital vaults, never to be recovered, reviewed or iterated.
If you’ve already written a business plan, there’ll almost certainly be elements within it that need to be addressed. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed – it just means you could do with a helping hand in making it even better than it already is.
Consider this blog that helping hand!
1. You’re looking way too far ahead
The point of a business plan is to look towards the future and strategically plan how your business will turn a profit, grow and meet its goals.
However, it is possible to look too far ahead. By instead making the planning period shorter, you’ll be able to focus on more attainable goals. Predicting your turnover and profit figures for year nine simply isn’t worth your time when there are so many variables to take into account.
Investors will want to see around three years’ financial projects, so use that as your benchmark; it’ll help focus your mind on a far more realistic planning period.
2. You’ve written the plan for someone else
Business plans should be written for you, the entrepreneur. After all, you’re the person who had the idea in the first place, and this business is something about which you feel very passionate.
A classic trap people fall into is to write the business plan for someone else – for instance, an investor. And, while it’s important to include the stuff investors want to see, tuning your idea, approach and marketing plans to make them smile will almost certainly leave you with a document to which you feel rather indifferent.
This is your plan, no one else’s, so pour as much of your own passion into it as possible.
3. There’s no narrative
Every business and social enterprise should tell its own story. This is how you create a recognisable brand, and the method by which you draw people towards it.
Have a read of your business plan. Is there a clear thread? Does it read like an exciting novel, or is the plot all over the place?
For your business plan to have a solid narrative, it needs clear, attainable goals and a reason for being that fulfils a specific need of your audience.
4. Responsibilities are unclear
Who’s responsible for undertaking the marketing strategy? What about the finance arm of the business? And who will be able to bring the social media plan to life?
A great business plan will have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Does yours? Your plans might be ambitious and in keeping with the original idea for the business, but if you don’t have the resources, talent and people to deliver on your promises, it’s unlikely to flourish.
Clearly, you need to walk before you can run, and with start-up budgets typically very low, you can use the business plan to attack each element of the operation in bite-sized chunks that won’t break the bank. Just make sure you allocate the correct resources and people to each area (and don’t attempt to do it all yourself!).
5. It has been filed away for good
We touched on this at the start, but it bears repeating.
The world isn’t static. Markets evolve and consumer buying habits change. If your business plan hasn’t been reviewed for at least six months, it’s probably already lagging behind the competition.
Keep it by your side (even if that means retaining a printed copy on your desk) and review it at least every three months.
Business plans should be fun and inspiring to create, so use our tips above to create something that will ensure your social enterprise can grow and thrive.