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9 steps for writing a strategic business development plan

Developing a business plan can mark the start of an exciting phase, as you start charting future growth. This document serves as the roadmap for your business development strategy as you take your business to new heights.

Creating an effective business development plan can be a tough task. It requires you to think through several aspects of your business that you may not consider on a day-to-day basis.

Don’t worry — we’re here to help. This article will walk you through how to write a business development plan, so you can grow your business in the most effective way possible. 

What's a business development plan?

A business development plan is the growth roadmap for your business. It’s a strategy document that lays out where you want to take your business and how you intend to get there. 

A thorough and carefully crafted business development plan lays out your growth targets, financial projections and the tools and resources your company needs. It may also define your marketing and efforts that support your goals.

A business development plan provides clarity and helps you keep your objectives in focus during the day-to-day grind. It also provides a strong foundation for making business decisions — if you’re not sure whether a move makes sense, you can always consult your plan.

Why do you need a business development plan?

Creating a proper business development strategy can be a lot of work. But it pays dividends by providing clarity and focus. It also helps when trying to secure funding, as it shows you've thought through all the possibilities. 

A business development plan helps you:

Get clarity

A strong business development plan helps you get clear about priorities during the hectic launch phase of your business. It helps you define your goals and objectives, as well as chart out how you’ll reach them. 

Stay focused

As you dive into the day-to-day running of your business, it can be easy to get bogged down in details and lose sight of your larger goals. Your business plan provides an anchor that keeps you in place. And if you’re already in business, it can help you take a step back and refocus on the fundamentals.

Secure funding

A detailed business plan is one of the most effective ways to show investors that you can be trusted. This is especially important when you’re just starting out and have no track record of performance. Your business plan shows that you’ve thought about how your business will fare in the long run, not just in the short term.

Achieve growth

A proper business development plan should include a roadmap. This is your high-level strategy document that serves as the map to your company’s growth. It lays out how you’ll measure success, provides targets to aim for and defines your plans for hitting them.

How to write a business development plan

If you’re convinced that you need to write your own business development plan (or update the one you have), you might be wondering where to start. Let’s walk through the process. 

1. Set clear financial goals

Your business development strategy should include clear financial goals. For example, every business wants to increase sales; however, that’s not a specific goal. Instead, set a target for your sales figures within a certain timeframe, and keep it realistic by using your current numbers as a baseline.

To do this, project your revenue, profit and expenses if business were to stay the same. Then consider what a realistic target might be and include that. This number may be lower than you'd expect, but it’s more important that it’s actually achievable.

2. Refine customer profiles

Detailed customer and audience profiles help your business effectively target its marketing efforts. Your business might already have customer profiles — updating your business plan is a perfect time to update these profiles, as well. And if you don’t have profiles yet, there’s no time like the present.

You can start refining your customer profiles by examining your current customer base. Look at their demographics and habits. Then use a similar strategy to create profiles of your ideal customers.

3. Identify key growth opportunities

Next, identify your key growth opportunities. These could be new products or services, an expansion into a new market, or even a complete rebuild of your current offerings.

Whatever these opportunities are, include them in your business development plan. Articulate how and why these opportunities will help grow the business. 

4. List funding sources

Your plan should include not just the amount of funding you’ll need, but how you plan to get it — loans, equity investors or crowdfunding, for example. Now is the time to come up with an in-depth funding strategy. Doing this legwork on the front end, while developing your plan, makes it easier to focus on execution when stress inevitably creeps in. 

This part of your plan should include the sources you’ve secured, as well as those you’d like to seek funds from. It should also include how much you’ll seek from each source, what form those funds will take, and any obstacles you might encounter.

5. Determine operational needs

You’ve laid out your goals, growth opportunities and potential funding sources. Now, look over these items and determine how to make all this happen. 

Be aware that as your operational needs expand, your business expenses will also increase. For example, you may require additional equipment, a new warehouse to enable expanded logistics, or more employees to help serve customers. Whatever it is, build it into your business development plan.

6. Develop a sales and marketing strategy

Your business development plan is the perfect place to include sales and marketing strategies. Ultimately, these will be some of the key drivers for leveraging your growth opportunities and hitting your financial goals.

As you draft these ideas, run them through this simple test: Will they still hold up if you reach your growth targets, or will you need to rework them? Ideally, you want sales and marketing strategies that can grow along with your business.

7. Create your elevator pitch

Your elevator pitch is the short-and-sweet version of your company’s mission. The premise is simple: If you were to meet someone on an elevator and only had that brief ride to pitch your company, what would you say?

Some people adopt arbitrary rules on their elevator pitch, such as limiting it to a Twitter-length 280 characters. While this limitation isn’t necessary, it should give you a good idea of the brevity of an elevator pitch and the impact you’ll need to make. 

8. Identify your resource needs

You’ve identified your broad operational needs — equipment, facilities and employees. You’ll also want to identify your resource needs. These include how you might manage your technology and team members in a more specific way.

For example, if your marketing plan involves creating video content, you’ll need the proper equipment and software to create it. Your sales strategy might involve retooling your CRM or migrating to a new system. Or, your growth targets might mean that you need to move to a new accounting platform. 

9. Determine how you'll measure success

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to decide how you’ll measure progress towards your goals. How will you know when you’ve hit that ambitious sales target or grown your business in that new market? 

You need to be able to measure your business performance and progress. Setting targets and KPIs for your employees may be good ways to keep things on track.

Business Development Plan Template

If you need a business development plan example, we’ve put together this template. It’ll help you shape your own business plan and outline the key sections. 

Stay productive and profitable with MYOB

A strong business development plan is a powerful asset for driving growth. It helps you outline your plans and stay on course, even when you’re overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks. 

Achieving your business goals is much easier when you have help — and that doesn’t mean you need to hire more people. MYOB accounting software automates business operations like invoicing, payroll, and tax reporting, so you can spend more time focusing on strategic growth.

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