Lesson 1: Find your passion and expertise through skills, abilities and knowledge
In today’s lesson, we’ll lay the foundations for writing a business plan, so you can start creating your very own.
Part art, part science, mixed with a dash of love and loads of revision, this lesson asks you to move beyond the business development phase and into the specifics. A plan that stays in your head is going to be full of unrealistic assumptions and biases, whereas writing down your plan forces you to get real–fast!
While gut feelings and spur of the moment ideas are full of passion and energy, when you get them down on paper they’ll probably need a bit of tweaking.
And that’s okay!
Take this example:
Throughout this lesson, we'll check in with Kelly as she progresses on her business journey. We met Kelly in the previous course. If you haven’t got a solid business idea down pat, we'd recommend our Develop a Business Idea course as a great place to start.
By the end of this lesson, you’ll have a good sense of what a business plan looks like, why it’s useful to create it with both an investor (or partner) in mind, and of course, what information to include.
Whether you’re a florist, vet, psychologist, personal trainer or web developer your business plan generally addresses the same things.
Main sections of a business plan
- A compelling and engaging executive statement
- Your mission statement
- A marketing and industry section
- A clear and concise products and services section
- An operations plan segment
- A financial section
- An appendix (this is where you put all the important documents).
Let’s dive into the course by working together to answer these questions:
- What problem does your business’s product or service solve?
- What niche could it fill?
- What is your business’s solution to the problem?
- Who are your ideal customers, and how will you market and sell your products or services to them?
These questions, and the answers you give, will all lead back to why you want to create your business in the first place.
You don’t have to know all the answers straight away. But it might be a good idea to have these questions in the back of your mind throughout the next few lessons.
Activity 1: Take 20 minutes to find your flow
Brainstorm before you write your plan
It's tough to write a whole business plan from scratch, so take 20 minutes right now to brainstorm your ideas on the business plan template.
Each section has prompts to help switch your brain into creative mode. Set a timer for 3 minutes and brainstorm general notes and questions for each section. Remember: there are no right or wrong answers; it’s simply the act of getting your ideas out and onto paper, which will help you see your plan in a more realistic way.
How long should your business plan be?
While there’s no stock standard design for creating your business plan, we recommend keeping your plan between 20-40 pages. If you can condense it down to an eight page spread without losing key information–do that! Aim for clear and concise sections with spelling and grammar check on at all times. It needs to look good - but not perfect.
How should it be presented?
Writing a lean plan vs a comprehensive plan
Knowing what type of plan works for your unique business is the next step. Both have pros and cons but generally, a lean plan is great for presenting to partners, while a more comprehensive plan is important for raising capital from banks. A good rule of thumb is to have a few adaptable versions of your business plan ready for presenting to different people. Think one for potential business partners, one for showcasing to customers, one for seeking strategic alliances and one for presenting to lenders.
Looking for a partner?
Thinking of bringing on a business partner? Want to make a big impression to a potential buyer? Know your way around PowerPoint? Why not make a lean business plan that’s so impressive that you can whiz your potential partner through it in no time.
Let’s take Kelly, for example. She’s decided she wants to bring on a partner. Someone who has experience in sales and marketing so her business, Scakes, can grow quickly. She’ll also be looking for lending from a bank. This means it’s essential for Kelly to have two versions of the plan. A more comprehensive one with a detailed financial section (more of this in Lesson 6), and a leaner plan to show her potential business partners.
Downloaded our handy business plan template yet? If not, stop and do it now. Then come back to this lesson. We’re going to be working with this template throughout the course, so make sure you keep it close by saving it in G drive or any other storage on your device.
Where to go for help or more info
Business Enterprise Centres, business advisors, accountants, and fellow business owners are the people you can call on for more help with writing your business plan. MYOB also has a list of business advisors who can give you feedback, and as always, you can reply to this email and we’ll help you out!
Another great resource is the Australian Government's Business website.
In the next lesson
We'll take you through writing your business overview, and what to say about your products and services. By the end of the next lesson, you’ll be able to clearly outline what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, what problem your business solves and how it will compete with other businesses selling the same or similar products and services.