Key Steps for Writing a Competitive Business Plan

Every business starts with a clear vision of what they want to achieve. But it’s easy to get lost along the way in getting to your business goals. This is where you need a business plan. You need to learn how to write your own business plan that will guide your business efforts toward success.

By creating this comprehensive plan, businesses can reduce uncertainty, anticipate market shifts, and better prepare for the future. And in this article, we will guide you through all the steps to write a winning plan.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document created to outline an organization’s objectives, strategies and direction. It serves as a blueprint for how the company will operate and covers topics such as marketing plans, financials, and operational processes.

Your business plan can also serve as a proposal when trying to get investors on board. Investors usually want to know if your business has the following:

  • Product-market fit: Has your research determined the level of demand for the product or service you will offer?
  • A solid team: Do you have the necessary team to support your business goals and objectives?
  • Scalability: Can you grow your sales without proportional growth in the workforce and fixed costs?

Your business plan should provide them with answers to these questions.

Why You Need a Business Plan

Not all successful businesses start with a formal business plan. But many founders have found it beneficial to step back, research their idea and understand their market.

Business plans can help companies grow, remain competitive and launch new products or services successfully. Whether you’re a big or small enterprise, you will benefit from a business plan.

A business plan can help you to:

Establish Direction

A business plan provides a clear direction for your venture, helping you focus on your goals. It enables you to identify what needs to be done and when setting out milestones so you can measure progress. 

Identify Opportunities

Business plans are essential for identifying new opportunities or taking advantage of existing ones. They’re also a way to monitor competition and analyze changes in customer demand or market conditions.

Secure Funding

A detailed business plan is often required to secure funding from investors or lenders. By clearly laying out your vision and objectives, potential financiers will better understand how their money would be used. They’ll also be aware of the risks involved. 

Plan Resources

One of the most important roles of business plans is to help you plan the resources required to achieve each objective. This includes both financial resources, such as capital investments and operational resources.

Knowing what you’ll need before starting any project ensures that costs are controlled, and projects remain profitable. 

Enhance Communication

Creating a business plan encourages dialogue between all stakeholders in your business. And this enhances communication throughout the organization.

Additionally, a written document allows everyone to refer to it quickly and easily whenever questions arise.

A person using their laptop and phone at the same time.
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

What to Include in Your Business Plan

You want your business plan to be as comprehensive as possible. Don’t leave any questions hanging.

A business plan is usually 20-30 pages long, not including your appendices. You’ll need to include all the necessary information on these pages. And while not all business plans are the same, they share similar elements.

  • Executive Summary: A brief overview of the business plan that outlines key points, such as goals, target market and competitive advantages. 
  • Product and Services: Detailed description of products or services offered by the company. This can also include potential markets for these products/services and how they compare to those of competitors. 
  • Market Analysis: An assessment of a particular market in terms of size, trends and other factors relevant to the success of a new venture. 
  • Marketing Strategy: Plans on how to position, price, promote and distribute products or services to reach target customers most effectively. 
  • Financial Planning: Forecasts of expected income and expenses and assumptions regarding financial variables such as interest rates and inflation. 
  • Budget: A detailed budget reflects estimated costs for launching and running the business.

Key Steps on How to Write Your Own Business Plan

Draft an executive summary.

This is a summary of the entire business plan that describes your company, its goals and how you plan to achieve them. It should be concise yet include enough detail to explain what makes your business unique and compelling.

Be sure to include key details such as your products or services, the target market, estimated growth rate, financials, etc.

Describe your company.

Here you want to provide more in-depth information on the company’s history, purpose, and mission statement. Use this section to demonstrate why customers should choose your business over others.

Explain to the management team and describe any competitive advantages. You should also discuss the potential risks of launching the venture.

Perform a market analysis.

Investigate your industry’s current market conditions, including competitor analysis and customer behaviour. Consider conducting surveys and focus groups if applicable.

You may also research industry trends and project future market sizes for your product or service.

Outline management and organization.

Detail who will manage the business’s daily operations and how they will do so. Include job descriptions and decision-making processes used by management personnel. Identify employees needed and explain how the organization structure supports reaching your goals.

List your products and services.

Make a comprehensive list of all the products or services you offer customers. This should include any new ideas that are in development, as well as existing ones.

Include pricing, product descriptions, target audience(s) for each item and how they fit into your overall business strategy.

Perform customer segmentation.

Identify your ideal customers and research their buying habits, preferences and needs. This will help inform how you tailor your products or services and market them to these customers.

Define a marketing plan.

Develop a strategy for introducing your products and services to the public. This could involve utilizing multiple channels such as social media, traditional advertising and PR campaigns.

Provide a logistics and operations plan.

Lay out the processes for developing, producing, delivering and managing your products or services. Consider what resources, technology and personnel you need to manage your business operations successfully.

Make a financial plan.

Estimate start-up costs, set sales targets, and project cash flow over a period. You should also start considering whether additional funding is needed and, if so, explore different financing options available.

Wrapping Up

Having a business plan is essential for entrepreneurs who want to establish and grow their businesses. It provides clarity, direction, and an actionable roadmap for success. Follow these key steps on how to write your own business plan, and you’ll be well on your way to writing a winning plan.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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