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Top Tips for Tackling Your Business Plan
If you’re starting, or have just started a business, a well thought out business plan is one of the most critical tools you need to help you succeed. A business plan will give you direction, outline clear goals to achieve in the short and long-term, make your company more attractive to investors, and will help you measure and benchmark your progress as you build the business. So, what are the ingredients that make up a good business plan? We’ve provided some top tips below.
Pay Attention to Structure
All business plans should follow a broadly similar structure, beginning with an Executive Summary which condenses the plan in summary form and ending with the financial details of your company. You can download a simple, straight-forward 3-year business plan template on the AIB website that clearly sets out the relevant sections with guideline word counts for each.
Be Clear and Concise
It’s easy to get bogged down in business speak when writing your plan, but remember, clarity should be your main aim here. A potential investor is not going to spend hours slogging through a bloated and confusing document. Keep things brief, to the point and factual. When outlined in clear, uncluttered prose, the specifics of the plan should speak for themselves.
Ok, so you might daydream about running a global company but is that achievable for your first business? Any goals you set down in the plan should be realistic and consider potential challenges and obstacles that may arise. There’s certainly no harm in aiming high, but by setting genuinely achievable goals, you’ll have a much more realistic picture of how you business will grow in the years ahead.
Know Your Competition
One of the most critical elements of a successful plan is demonstrating that you understand the market you’re going to be operating in and have an extensive knowledge of your competitors. After all, you might have a great product, but if there’s someone else out there doing it cheaper that’s going to seriously affect your chances of success. Do your research, get to know your competitors, and you’ll be in a much better place to reach your goals.
Define Your Unique Selling Proposition
Building on your competitor analysis, you’ll also need to show what differentiates you from them. What does your product or service do that’s unique? Is it cheaper? More efficient? Does it satisfy a currently unfulfilled need? By clearly defining your USP, you’ll provide investors with a much more attractive business proposition.
Crunch the Numbers
Last, but certainly not least, any sales projections, financial forecasts and details of investment required provided in your business plan must be airtight. An investor’s final decision is always going to be based on the numbers, and if they don’t make sense, are unrealistic or inaccurate, all the work you’ve done creating your plan will be undone. Take your time over the financial details of your plan, check and recheck, and, if necessary, get a financial professional to review them.
Planning for the Future of Your Business?
If you need help with any aspect of your business, from planning to investment, make an appointment to speak an AIB Business Customer Advisor.
Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.
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