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How to build a business plan: 13 insights from entrepreneurs
In this article, we delve into the experiences and lessons learned from thirteen founders and co-founders in creating a business plan. From embracing flexibility in business planning to having patience in business plan development, these leaders share their invaluable insights. Read on to discover their unique perspectives on this critical business process. Here's how to build a business plan through 13 insights from entrepreneurs.
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- Embracing Flexibility in Business Planning
- Prioritizing Customer Needs in Planning
- Staying Adaptable and Having a Living Plan
- Striking a Balance in Business Plan Creation
- Keeping Business Plans Lean and Adjustable
- Planning Ahead for Risks and Failures
- Conducting Market Research Thoroughly
- Using Realistic Projections and Market Analysis
- Seeking Assistance in Business Plan Creation
- Maintaining Simplicity and Clarity While Planning
- Conducting Fieldwork Over Market Research
- Standing Out in the Market Through Innovation
- Having Patience in Business Plan Development
Embracing Flexibility in Business Planning
Creating a business plan was an exhilarating journey for me, filled with both challenges and rewarding moments. It felt like charting a course for a grand adventure. One lesson that stood out from this process was the importance of flexibility.
Initially, I approached the business plan with a rigid mindset, meticulously detailing every aspect of the business. However, as I dove deeper into market research, sought investor feedback, and explored potential partnerships, I realized that adaptability was key.
The lesson here is that while a business plan provides a roadmap, it shouldn't be etched in stone. Markets change, customer preferences evolve, and unexpected opportunities arise. Being open to adjustments allowed me to pivot when necessary, seize unforeseen opportunities, and stay ahead of competitors.
Embrace change, be open to new ideas, and don't be afraid to change your plan as circumstances dictate.
Prioritizing Customer Needs in Planning
Creating a business plan is nothing short of an educational and eye-opening experience. My co-founder (also my wife) and I learned an invaluable lesson during this process: having a central objective.
Ours was to prioritize our customers' needs. From conducting market analysis to developing a marketing strategy, we kept gravitating back to how we could make our customers’ lives easier.
For us, it was not just about closing deals; it was about understanding our customers' financial goals, fears, and dreams. Twenty years later, our customers are still at the heart of everything we do, and our current business plan still reflects this commitment to their well-being.
Staying Adaptable and Having a Living Plan
Crafting a business plan was a transformative journey, blending vision with pragmatism. While I initially focused on broad objectives and market potentials, I soon realized the importance of meticulous research and detailed financial projections.
One pivotal lesson I derived was the significance of "adaptability." A business plan, while comprehensive, isn't set in stone. As I ventured into the market, unforeseen challenges and opportunities emerged.
Hence, it's crucial to treat the plan as a living document, revisiting and revising it considering real-world experiences. This ensures that the plan remains relevant and actionable and serves as a reliable compass in the dynamic business landscape.
Striking a Balance in Business Plan Creation
Creating a business plan is far more complex than you think, and for someone like me, who created it for the first time when my company was being established, it was extremely challenging.
However, I learned that a great business plan must have balance in every area. In a business plan, several factors interact, and they aren't always complementary. What separates a good plan from a great one is the writer’s ability to strike this delicate balance in a way that speaks most truthfully to the company's mission and goals.
Depending on the company's current location, the nature of its business, and the goals it hopes to achieve with the strategy, the ideal balance will look very different for each product. A business plan for a fully developed corporate business unit will look very different from one for a startup seeking seed or angel funding.
Jeff Clark, Founder and CEO, AI Tool Mall
Keeping Business Plans Lean and Adjustable
With creating a business plan, I've been on both ends of the spectrum. I've crafted elaborate 50-page blueprints and streamlined, lean business plans. I favor the lean plan because business plans are never set in stone; they're fluid and ever-changing.
Of course, there's value in the nitty-gritty details. But my one key takeaway is to keep it lean, keep it flexible, and expect to make regular updates. Most crucially, know that investors always zero in on your key assumptions.
If those aren't realistic or well-justified, you're just spinning a fairy tale. As entrepreneurs, we dream big, and that's a good thing. I think it's just important to always be realistic, and lean more on the conservative side with our key assumptions.
Planning Ahead for Risks and Failures
While creating our business plan, I learned an early lesson: It was essential to accept the possibility of risks and failures and work on a contingency plan. Even today, I pay due attention to this lesson when making a decision.
Creating our first business plan taught me you have to be prepared for risks and failures and to have a backup plan. This lesson still guides my decision-making today.
In the early days of a business, there's a lot of enthusiasm and confidence. But as we worked on our business plan, we realized that expecting a smooth ride was a mistake. So, we identified potential risks and developed solutions.
I recognized the importance of being realistic about business challenges and committed to applying this lesson throughout our journey.
Neil Platt, Director, Emerald Home Improvements
Conducting Market Research Thoroughly
Creating a business plan was an important step in setting up my venture. One valuable lesson learned from this process is the importance of thorough market research. It helped me understand the target audience, competitors, and industry trends.
After this, the business strategy could be tailored for success. It also highlighted potential challenges and opportunities. Investing time in research is very important. It ensures the business plan is flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances in the market.
Using Realistic Projections and Market Analysis
Creating a business plan for my real estate brokerage was a vital step in setting a clear direction for my venture. One significant lesson I learned from the process was the importance of thorough market research and realistic financial projections.
While drafting the plan, I realized that it's essential to dig deep into market analysis, understanding not only the current conditions but also the long-term trends. It's not just about knowing the market; it's about anticipating how it might change. This knowledge helped me to make informed decisions and set achievable goals.
I discovered that creating detailed financial projections helped me better understand the financial health of my business and its potential growth. It allowed me to allocate resources more effectively and set realistic expectations for revenue and expenses.
Seeking Assistance in Business Plan Creation
Creating a business plan was a challenging task for me, especially since it was my first business and I had no prior experience. I was working alone, with no help, which made the process even more difficult.
One of the most challenging aspects was creating a buyer persona for my business. I had a vague idea of my ideal buyer, but defining the details and presenting them that would appeal to investors was a struggle.
The experience taught me the importance of seeking help before undertaking such tasks alone. Having assistance with your plan can guide you on the right path and help you avoid potential mistakes.
Maintaining Simplicity and Clarity While Planning
Creating a business plan for Steambase taught me the essence of simplicity. In my experience, a business plan's clarity is crucial. If I can't convey in one sentence how I'll generate revenue, it's likely I haven't fully grasped the concept, and profitability could be elusive.
For Steambase, I merged my development expertise with my gaming enthusiasm, aiming to provide users with comprehensive game insights.
The straightforward strategy: attract thousands of daily visitors and monetize through display ads and affiliate deals. I have a clear path and purpose, keeping it simple yet specific.
Conducting Fieldwork Over Market Research
When creating a business plan, most entrepreneurs spend 80% of their time evaluating a market from the top down: TAM analysis, industry growth, and key ecosystem dynamics. What actually helped us build a successful plan for Truckbase was inverting that.
We spent about 20% of our time on market research, and 80% out in the field with customers. We serve trucking companies and want to deeply understand how their business works, what key pain points they have, what systems and tools they use today, how they make money, and what each member of their team does.
Our business plan was then filled with rich customer quotes and data points that made it far more tangible and powerful for our investors. You will not build a substantial business from 10,000 feet up. You have to "get out of the building," so to speak.
Standing Out in the Market Through Innovation
Embarking on developing a business plan centered around eco-friendly products, I gleaned a valuable lesson: Innovation is key to standing out in the market. As I delved into the process, I realized that a unique approach is crucial to capture consumers' attention amidst the growing sustainability trend.
Through thorough research and creative brainstorming, I devised an inventive concept—crafting "Nature's Harmony Creations," a line of products that seamlessly integrated eco-friendliness with elegance. This lesson illuminated the significance of pushing boundaries and thinking beyond conventional solutions.
By infusing innovation into every aspect, from sourcing materials to packaging, I ensured my offerings were environmentally responsible and visually captivating. The journey taught me that embracing ingenuity is paramount, as it attracts eco-conscious consumers and fosters ongoing business growth in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Having Patience in Business Plan Development
Creating my business plan, I was initially driven by eagerness and ready to set everything in motion from the start. But I quickly realized that haste could be detrimental.
Each part, from market analysis to financial forecasts, demanded careful consideration and thorough research. This process taught me a deep appreciation for patience.
I learned that rushing, driven by impatience, might lead to significant oversights, potentially jeopardizing the entire venture. In my experience, the planning phase was a lesson in the value of taking one's time, ensuring every decision was well-informed and deliberate.