Every business needs a solid tag line. Writing your business plan will make you think objectively about your business, and you may even come up with new business strategies in the process. A well-written business plan will increase your chances of success within the business arena. The plan will also serve as a record that you can revisit over time to remain on target or reassess your direction. The following are a few of the most common pitfalls of writing a business plan, and some tips on how to avoid them.
Create a Vision:
The idea of a business plan is very comforting. It makes people feel safe and secure to know that there is a plan guiding business activities in the “right” way. Your vision is your dream for the future of the business and the path you will take to make it a reality. No matter what stage of the business development cycle your business is in, as the leader of the organization, your vision should be absolutely clear, it should describe where you are going and what the destination will be like.
Know That a Budget Isn’t the Same Thing as a Plan:
A budget isn’t the same thing as a plan. You can’t create a solid business plan without a budget and a financial forecast. But a budget should be the product of all the other elements in your plan. If you don’t have a clear picture of your industry, customers, competitors, and market conditions before you develop a budget, your numbers aren’t likely to reflect reality.
Don’t Ignore Your Customers:
Your business won’t succeed if you don’t understand the people who will buy your product or service. A good business plan explains exactly who your customers are, why they want your product or service, and how you plan to convince them to patronize your business. Your plan should address each segment, what makes it unique, and how you plan to adjust your business to win different groups of customers.
Don’t Underestimate Competitors:
Every business has competition. Don’t just consider direct competitors, but also identify indirect competitors. Think about the needs that your product and/or service fulfills and then think about any other ways that your customers could fulfill those needs. Your business plan must frankly analyze the competitive landscape. “Don’t lull yourself into believing the product or service you’re offering is unique.
Be Prepared to Take Risks:
The entrepreneur of a new business needs to be prepared to take risks. Successful business proposals do not avoid risk but instead propose a strategy to meet and tackle the challenges. In fact, sound business proposals of new business ventures anticipate possible challenges and include a variety of scenarios for meeting those challenges.
Get a Second (and Third) Opinion:
Getting a second or even third opinion is a way of ensuring that you are planning properly. The most experienced entrepreneur can still benefit from a different point of view. Even if you’re the only person involved in your business, find someone who can study your plan objectively and point out possible weaknesses you might have missed.
Expect the Unexpected:
Every business plan needs some wiggle room to allow for unexpected changes. In business you have to be cautious & ready to expect the unexpected. The business world just won’t be smooth sailing all the time and things won’t always be just business as usual.