• Business planning and strategy

Advice on creating a solid business plan

Guest Blogger | September 11, 2012

Shauna Madsen, Madsen Ave, Edmonton, AB, CYBF Mentor

Business Plan

Tucked between the pages of your business plan resides ten components that define who you are, what you do, who you do it for, how much money you plan on generating in your business and where you see your company going.

Your plan also offers a glimpse into your thoughts and intentions as a business leader. It is a reflection of your ability to put thoughts to paper; your commitment to researching your market and your competition. The plan is also a reflection of how well you are able to define your target market and develop a marketing plan that speaks to potential clients.

Stepping back and objectively presenting your strengths is challenging and may require the help from your circle of influence.  When I review a plan, this is what I look for, first and foremost.

If you can define your strengths and the motivation behind the business concept, you will be able to draw on those qualities if the business is struggling. Starting a business is like caring for a newborn child; during the infancy stage is when they both need the most attention. A well-written plan will reveal your strengths and demonstrate how you will compensate in areas of weakness.

Business plan templates are available online and I have seen entrepreneurs type up a plan in a couple of days using a template, and it shows. I can spot one of these by flipping through a plan within five minutes. Regardless of your reasons for writing a business plan, there is no substitute for quality content – period! If you haven’t done your homework, it will show.

Additionally, I cannot stress enough the quality of your writing. Double and triple checking your spelling and grammar, reviewing your sentence structure and having it proofread before submitting cannot be understated. One of the entrepreneur classes I taught in 2010 had 16 student entrepreneurs and more than half spelled stationery as stationary. As I reviewed their business plans each week, I would circle the word in bold red pen for correction. By week eight, I was known as the “stationary” instructor.

You may also need a plan for funding purposes, but I encourage you to write your plan as a blueprint for your business, reviewing it every three months and updating it regularly.

So if you’re looking for help during the creation stage, I recommend the Government of Alberta’s Business Link which is a fabulous business resource, they have all of the information you will need for writing an EFFECTIVE business plan. Happy Planning!

About: Shauna Madsen teaches entrepreneurs how to develop marketing plans and formal business plans. She is the designer for Womanition and Vavasaur magazines and provides communication support to businesses. She has been an entrepreneur since 1988.