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Business Surgery: Lucinda Soane, of Bird Media, explains the importance of a business plan and what it needs to contain

I recently attended a Women in Business event where, surrounded by a multitude of aspiring and inspiring entrepreneurs, a shared concern was being voiced: “Where do I begin?”.

My advice: You need a plan.

Lucinda Sloane of Bird Media
Lucinda Sloane of Bird Media

What is a business plan?

A business plan defines your business goals and outlines how you will achieve them – that is, your business purpose, mission, vision, operations, employees, marketing strategy and financial planning.

Do I need a business plan?

Yes. Yes, you do. Absolutely, yes. Writing a business plan is an opportunity to research, define, and refine your offering. But, most importantly, your business plan keeps your objectives in focus. It ensures every decision you make aligns with your business vision and values.

Plus, a business plan is a commitment. By committing pen to paper and outlining your goals, you’re more likely to achieve them.

What should I include in my business plan?

Your business plan outlines your product or service, the market in which you operate, the customer needs you will fulfil, and the ways in which your business will be funded.

Use the following headings as a template for writing your plan today. Go for it!

Executive summary – Your elevator pitch. Keep it short and concise, and write this last; the executive summary will become clear once you have completed the main body of the plan.

Business description – Your mission, vision, values and aims; that is, who you are, what you do and why you do it.

Customer research – Your target customers. Show you understand your customer demographics - what are their wants, needs, passions or pain points?

Competitor analysis – Who you’re up against. Determine the advantages and disadvantages of your business compared to your competitors – what sets your business apart?

Products and services – Your offering. Go into detail about the products and services your business will offer including key features and benefits, how they align with the wants/needs of your customers, and how what you offer is different to your competitors.

Marketing and sales strategy – Things just got real. Provide an overview of how you will bring your business to market; sales channels, pricing strategy, brand identity, and marketing strategy.

Business structure – Your team. Consider the person-power required to achieve your goals. Can you go it alone or will you need a team behind you?

Financial projections – No one likes this part. But this is where you determine if your business is financially viable. Detail your projected business income and outgoings, set up costs, any funding or investment requirements, and your predictions for the next three years of business growth.

Bird Media
Bird Media

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be an onerous task. And I’ll let you into a secret, you can hire content writers – like me – to do this for you. I’m also on hand as a sounding board for ideas or a listening ear for concerns so feel free to contact me at lucinda.sloane@thisisbirdmedia.com.