One of the most difficult parts of writing a business plan is simply getting started. In short, a business plan is a written description of the future of your business — a document that includes what your plans and goals are, and how you’ll go about accomplishing them.
No matter how big or small your business is, creating a business plan is a vital step for any entrepreneur to take. Think of it as a roadmap that you can use to chart the course of your business.
At the outset, it’s almost impossible to predict all of the changes and curveballs that the year will throw at you, as 2020 showed us. That’s why it’s important to periodically review and update your business plan. Here are a few tips for getting started.
1. Executive summary
It’s crucial to start with what you know. Starting with an executive summary will give you a head start on your business plan for 2021.
This section is one of the most important parts of your plan. Therefore, your summary should be convincing and brief (no more than a page), while attracting the reader’s attention. Include a clear description of exactly what services your team offers and what, if any, areas you specialize in.
The executive summary should hit the high points of the business plan, and that’s why you should write it last, after you have completed even the financial portion. It should point out section numbers or page numbers that indicate where to find more information. It should include, but is not limited to, the following items:
- Type of business
- Business structure
- Management and key employee background
- Type of service you offer and how (or if) it’s unique
- Target market and its size
- Marketing strategy (are you differentiating yourself from the competition?)
- Financing and financial structure
2. Mission statement
Business planning can be a daunting task, especially when preparing for 2021. As I mentioned above, the easiest thing you can do to get over the hump is by starting with what you know.
The main function of this portion is to clearly articulate in a written sentence or two what you are selling, what you might specialize in, who your clients are and why they buy and sell through you. It may also summarize your goals or objectives briefly.
Example: To build a profitable and respected real estate sales firm, as measured by the business’ bottom line and the number of referrals generated by past clients and word of mouth.
Post it on your wall and in as many places as you can possibly think of. Communicate it to as many people as you can. Remember — this is the reason why you leave the house every day.
3. S.W.O.T analysis
If you’re still struggling with your business plan for 2021, the best way to get over the hump and get inspired to map out your business for the upcoming year is a S.W.O.T analysis.
S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When you consider these sections, it’s important to factor in things like location, size of resources, reputation, services, personnel, etc.
Strengths and weaknesses refer to organizational attributes. These are internal in origin. Opportunities and threats are attributes of the businesses environment, so they are external in origin. Here’s an example of a general S.W.O.T analysis.
- Low salary and benefit overhead for unlicensed assistants
- Quick to respond to market changes
- Low hierarchy equals quick decisions
- Technology skills
- Existing workload too great
- Project planning nonexistent
- Missing expertise in some areas
- Increase market share
- Fewer agents to compete with
- Changing market
- Costs of doing business are increasing
- Poor perceptions of market
I hope these three sections have inspired you to craft your best business plan. Get started with what you know, and get over that inevitable hump.