The business plan: content, use and model
What is a business plan? How does one establish a convincing business plan? What should a business plan contain? Where can you find a model or an example of a free business plan?
Definition: A business plan is a written document that presents a business project that will be created or a taken-over, rolling out all aspects of the project.
A business plan is not only a financial plan: the financial aspects are not the only elements that should be presented.
The business plan is often developed in Word or Powerpoint, or any software of this type. There is no standard format and no particular length to which you must adhere.
How is a business plan useful?
The business plan has one main objective: TO CONVINCE.
The business plan is drafted for presentations to third parties, who may be future partners, suppliers, customers, members, or financers: banks, relatives, venture capitalists, or the donors of a crowdfunding operation.
When reading the business plan, these people:
- must understand the idea and the concept
- should be reassured of the adequacy of the project leaders and the project itself
- need to be convinced by the potential of the market
- must be satisfied by the planned marketing and sales strategy
- will have to be persuaded by the imagined economic and organizational model
- should be reassured about all the risks likely to weigh on the company
A business plan may also be necessary when selling a company to determine the valuation of the business.
The business plan can also be written on your own, that is to say, remaining internal in the company: the idea is to ask questions in order to decipher the direction of the company. Writing a business plan allows you to formulate your ideas, to approach all aspects without forgetting anything, and to ask the right questions. It is also a good working tool between partners, allowing for agreement on a common vision.
In the same way that it is wise to have an updated CV at all times, it is wise to have a business plan on Word kept up to date in order to be able to present your project at any time, to anyone interested, on any occasion.
A business plan is simultaneously the summary of a market study, the presentation of the offer, a financial plan and an important step in the life of the entrepreneur. This is a real test of the project owner’s ability to be lucid, realistic, and convincing.
What does a business plan contain?
The business plan consists of several parts (the number and the order are given as indicated):
- an introduction of the project leaders: CV (skills, experience, diplomas …)
- the history of the project and the idea
- the presentation of the product or service
- the presentation of the market: the market study
- the description of the marketing and marketing strategy
- the technical means provided for
- the human resources and the target organization
- the choice of legal status and the reasons for this choice
- financial aspects, i.e. financing, profitability and cash flow (See our article on the financial plan)
- Annexes: additional documents or details concerning the above points
What are the keys to designing a quality business plan?
As we have seen above, the # 1 objective of the business plan is to convince.
To write a quality business plan, you must first be convinced by what you write!
- Write simple sentences, get straight to the point.
- Present data as dots or tables rather than as long paragraphs.
- Highlight important data.
- Reinforce your arguments with factual, concrete, verifiable elements.
- Show that you have identified all the risks and that you have a response for each one.
- Seduce the reader by allowing him to project himself using concrete elements: sketches of the product, illustrations, scenarios, examples.
- Use colour to increase enthusiasm.
- Have your document re-read by outsiders.