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Business plan is generally the last thing on a creative person’s mind. My wife is a passionate entrepreneur, dedicated and hard-working. What I particularly like about her is her ability to think differently and see things that most of us do not. Like how to connect people. Or, better still, who to connect.

Like many other budding entrepreneurs though, she suffers from a writer’s block when it comes to putting together those basic business documents that many experienced corporate people take for granted. Sales plans, contracts, business and financial documents are nightmare material for her. Many hours later (and an argument or two too!) they resemble much more to a nice letter to a friend, or a collection of Christmas wishes and wows than to a business plan. So, when she asked me (again!) the other day to help her with it, I decided to put together a simple, step-by- step manual: “How to write a Business Plan”. Here are my thoughts.

Step-by-step manual “How to write a Business Plan”

STEP 1: FORMULATING BUSINESS PLAN

Firstly, you need to realize that you do have a business plan – in your head, that is. The issue is not to create it, but to formulate it so it reads easy and simple, consists of feasible and quantifiable units and steps and leads to the ultimate business objectives – growth, improvement and profit. So, where do you start?
Generally, a business plan should include at least three sections:
1. Market and business conditions
2. Sales plan that flows into a financial plan
3. Explanation how to achieve it
Start with things you are sure about – list the opportunities your business will have next year. Think why – which strengths will help it to capitalize, which weaknesses you need to take care of and what threats you may need to counter in that period. That is called SWOT analysis. Once that is done with, it usually becomes clearer what the business can achieve. Well, now translate that into a sales dollar (if possible, use a sales-per- product/service approach, starting from this year’s result and building up and down) and your sales plan is done! Hey- we are half way through – and it did not sound THAT nasty so far!

STEP 2: UNDERSTANDING COSTS

Now for costs – operational (cost of products and production, employees and contractors, typical utilities including computers and the rest.  And do not worry too much about those funny sounding categories – depreciation, overheads, etc. – leave those to your accountant to build in. Once again, deal with things you are familiar with. There are many reasonable templates online to plug the figures in and get the end and month-by- month result. One of more important spreadsheets is cash flow one. Starting bank balance plus account receivables (sales that gets paid that month) minus account payables (outgoings that need to be paid that month) equals bank balance at the month’s
end! If it shows red – you need to think how to bridge it over. Loan? Cash input? Grant? Investor
capital?

STEP 3: GROWING YOUR BUSINESS

Finally, a fun part! Marketing. Promotion. Product development. Refinement. Launch. Advertising… You get it. Sure, it is not THAT simple and you will get stuck somewhere. But, trust me, once 80% is done and you have but a few sticky points, you will find ways to work through them. Just, each time you are stuck start from revisiting those basic objectives: growth, sales and profit. How?

And, yes – good luck!