If you have just launched a business or are planning for an upcoming campaign, a meticulous business plan can help ensure your organization hits the ground running from the start. Thoroughly considering each step can help attract investors and ensure you identify key goals and that stakeholders have clarity around critical objectives. A business plan can help you stay on track to meet your targets while planning for anticipated periods of stagnation and growth.

Setting Goals and Objectives

The first step in any business plan is to set measurable and attainable goals—also known as SMART goals (sustainable, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). You can start small by plotting out monthly goals with the final objective of developing an annual plan. Setting these goals will help you think big picture about your business while ensuring that each goal and the path to get there are feasible for your team.

Ask yourself the “five W’s” – what you want to accomplish, why you want to achieve your goal, who will be involved, where this goal will happen, and when – or a timeline for it. Consider how you will track progress and who needs to be involved in finalizing each SMART goal. Remember: these goals are meant to keep you on track to achieve your business goals and should be realistic.

Understand your Market & Customers

Part of your business plan should include a deep understanding of your market and customers. Before building your plan, complete this step to ensure you have a strong sense of your target audience. Consider things like how your business differs from competitors. How does your product or service offer customers a unique investment? If you haven’t already, research industry dynamics, such as changes to consumer behaviour, technological advancements, and market trends that might impact your business.

Create customer profiles specific to your business by considering your average customer’s age, location, hobbies, income, job title, purchasing habits, and purchasing motivations. These important details will help you decide how to market and promote your product(s).

Implementing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of your competitors can help you better understand how your business might fare. Is there something that sets your company apart? Take note of what makes your organization stand out.

Structuring your Business Plan

It’s time to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard. To start with, create an executive summary and introduction (one to two pages) designed to capture your readers’ attention upfront and provide them with critical details about your business goals. Aim to be succinct by outlining your business’ primary objectives. Your summary should be a synopsis of what readers can expect from your business plan. If you need help getting started, here’s a 7-step breakdown of how to structure your executive summary from Forbes.

Next, include your company description, such as your organizational structure, as part of your business plan. Make it clear to readers, who could consist of potential investors who play decision-making roles within your organization.

As discussed earlier, briefly describing your products, including what makes them stand out against the competition, is an essential step in your business plan. Take time to explain what differentiates your product, using key market trends and industry reports as references.

Consider how you plan to market and promote your business and products. Is a specific timeline involved? Will you implement an approved budget? What are the inherent risks associated with your product and industry, and how will you mitigate these speedbumps? Remember: although it may seem counterintuitive, highlighting risks is a strength for your business, as you can get ahead of any perceived limitations by having a well-thought-out solution. This will only make your organization seem stronger in the eyes of potential investors.

Expert review

Now that your plan is in place, gathering feedback from trusted industry experts is essential. Use your network to find peers who will evaluate your business plan and provide comments on its strengths and weaknesses. Create a timeline for review to help keep you on track to finalize your plan. Once feedback has been gathered, use it to make updates accordingly. After this step, you should be ready to circulate your plan and take action on it.

A concrete business plan is crucial to launching any new business or campaign. By looking ahead and preparing for the natural ebbs and flows that all industries experience, you can ensure that your organization puts its best foot forward and is well-prepared for growth and success.

Contact Glenn Graydon Wright LLP if you Need Expert Advice on Tackling your Business Plan

Our business consultants can help your organization reach the next level by helping create, draft, and/or review your business plan. Our vetted team has years of experience providing consulting and financial advice to organizations, whether just getting started or launching a new campaign. Give us a call today at 905-845-6633, or connect with us online to schedule an online consultation.