5 Best Tips to Write a Successful Business Plan

Executive Summary

This article discusses how important it is to have a business plan and offers tips on writing one. This article stresses the importance of thinking about the bigger picture, understanding your business’s worth, and identifying action steps. The article also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a balance between your personal and business lives, as well as suggesting that you prioritize non-negotiables. It is suggested that you dedicate a week to writing your business plan or start with a simple list of bullet points. The article also recommends embracing the concept of a “living business plan” that can adapt and evolve as your business or market changes. The article also suggests that you can use your busy season as a time to collect data about your company and update your plan.

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tips to write a business plan

1. Take a look at the big picture

Oren Shani is a certified business adviser at Accion Opportunity, a nonprofit financial institution for community development based in California. He recommends that you start by conceptualizing the business before diving into a template of 60 pages.

Shani says that for new businesses, it means figuring out what value you can bring to the marketplace and how to convert that into revenue. Langton says that for operating businesses, it’s about understanding what has worked and what hasn’t.

Shani says that once you have a “bird’s-eye view” of your business, you can narrow down the action steps. These will differ depending on your company. He says that many businesses don’t require a 60-page plan. Instead, they may only need a “lean” or one-page plan.

2. Consider your lifestyle

Langton’s main advice for her clients is to balance their business with their personal lives. Outlining and understanding your priorities outside the business will help you spend more time on it. This can make you an efficient and effective owner. She asks clients, “As you create a living, are you also enjoying the lifestyle that it provides, or are you just so focused on revenue?”

She recommends that to create clarity, you start with the “nonnegotiables,” which are things that you won’t sacrifice to run your business. You can then create your ideal week and plan your business around it.

3. Make the Time

When it comes to writing your business plan, consider your schedule as well as how you prefer to work. Langton recommends setting aside one week for those who like to work on a single task. You can even block the time in your calendar if it’s difficult. Change your surroundings to help you clear mental blocks and get more inspiration.

Shani warns against compartmentalizing if you’ve been putting off starting because of being overwhelmed. He says that putting something down on paper is better than waiting until you have a day free with no distractions. Working on your plan while you run your business has its benefits, too. Real-time analysis will help improve your strategy.

Langton says that business plans and perfectionism don’t mix, especially with new business owners.

4. Living business plans: Embrace them

According to Shani and Langton, whether you are a first-time business owner or a 20-year veteran of the business world, a plan for your business is never really done. Your business plan should change as you adapt to your changing understanding of your company, your market, and your customers.

Shani says that the longest part of a business plan is learning, rather than putting it down on paper. A business owner, for example, should try to determine why a particular sale was made or not. It will allow them to identify the buying behaviors of their customers and how they interact with their brands and products.

Some business owners may find it most beneficial to have a quarterly or monthly cadence for checking in, reprioritizing, and letting go of the things that don’t work. Shani says that some people may prefer to review their plans when they have new insights or there are significant changes in the market. For example, new regulations, new real estate developments, or new competitors.

5. Take advantage of your busy season

This can also be a good thing for business owners who are expecting a holiday rush. Langton says that leveraging your busy season to gather data can help you prepare for the future.

She says that not everything needs to be done by January 1, but taking mental notes and making observations now will help you to update your business plan meaningfully in January.

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Creating a successful business strategy involves understanding the value of your business, maintaining work-life harmony, and committing focused time. It is important to have a “living” business plan, which requires regular review and adaptation. Oren Shani, Langton, and others advocate flexibility in planning. They emphasize that it is not a single-time task but a continuous process. Data collection during busy seasons can enhance plan updates. A dynamic approach to planning will ensure resilience and success despite market fluctuations.

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