I have seen many business plans for many different industries over the years. Without a doubt, it is an essential exercise and one that, all too often, entrepreneurs skip over in their rush to get to work on their new idea. Hand on heart, me too. I admit it – I’ve leapt with both feet into a few projects in my time without planning them out first.
When you do take the time to sit down and write a plan, avoid these common mistakes.
- Don’t ignore your competition. It exists whether you admit it or not. Even the most disruptive ideas on the planet face competition from the old guard or from imitators that will start up as soon as you make a splash. Uber, for example, is competing against the Taxi drivers and Lyft.
- Keep Optimism away from your finances. It’s great that you are enthusiastic and optimistic. We love that and it’s what will make your business succeed in the long run but keep your numbers conservative.
- Don’t forget to define your target market. Someone once told me that you should know your target customer so well that you could sit down and have dinner with him like old friends. This is not the time for generalizations. This is the era of big data and there are statistics out there for everything. Use them to pinpoint exactly your target market by location, demographics, psychology, spending habits, education and any other metric you can find. It will help streamline your marketing efforts and increase your conversions.
- Don’t forget your target audience for the plan. If this is just for your eyes only, that’s fine. Usually though, business plans will be sent to banks, investors, suppliers and other business contacts so make sure it is professional. Use decent font and grammar, and add visual detail to maintain their attention.