With 2010 drawing to a close, I'm busy writing a business plan for 2011.
Not all of our marketing speaks to our clients and prospects. This business plan will be a purely internal document; No client will ever see it. And yet, it may be the most important piece of marketing communications I'll write the whole year.
If you need help writing your business plan, here's the simple template that I'm using. I hope you find it helpful.
Business Plan Template
Cover page. Even though it's an internal document, it still needs to feel "official".
Vision Statement. Clarify why you're in business, what you offer, and to what, with a simple statement.
Business Environment Overview. Identify your target market, and explain their needs and problems.
Competitive Analysis. Identify your main competition and create a basic SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
- Competitor Strengths
- Competitor Weaknesses
- Opportunities for Your Success
- Threads to Your Success
Operating Plan. Explain what you do and how you do it. If you've been providing the same services for years and do not expect to change in 2011, this section could be short. If you're considering changing in 2011 the mix of services you offer, this is your opportunity to flesh out your plan.
Marketing Plan. Look at your marketing and sales at several levels:
- Value Proposition. What's unique about your company, and what benefits do you give your clients?
- Sales Goals. Set targets, both hard and soft.
- Sales Plan. Map out everything – your branding (New website content? Print ads?), Your marketing (Direct mail? Cold calls? Networking Events?), And your client-relationship building (Regular newsletters? Social media? Holiday cards?).
Management plan. Include your bio and the bios of any partners / associates.
Financial Plan. Include P & L statements from the last 2-3 years, as well as year-to-date, and identify the financial goals, beyond the sales goals from your marketing plan, that you'd like to achieve in 2011.
Following this template for writing a business plan will give you a sure, meaningful document that will guide you through the next twelve months.
If, however, you need more than an internal document – if you need a business plan suitable to share with your bank or investors, please consider hiring a professional. A writer with experience in business plans has the right skills and an impartial, arm's-length distance from your organization. This allows the writer to ask the tough but critical questions your plan needs to address – which can make all the difference in the success of your plan.