Search Results for: business plan

How to write a better business plan: 10 Quick Tips

There comes a time when most people starting or developing a business, even a small one, need to write a business plan to secure funding, to establish credibility with stakeholders, to guide the business along its journey, and more.

My own experience here is limited (although I often get asked to help clients write the marketing section for their plan) so here is a short curation of authoritative (free to view) pieces on how to do it properly … and get that beloved bank loan, kudos and structure that you need. [Read more…]

How to write a business plan

By Jeremy Dent

Several readers have asked me to do something about writing business plans, but this is not my area of expertise. So I asked my friend and digital marcoms mentor, Jeremy Dent, to share his advice with us. Here it is – I think it’s brilliant!

There are many contexts to writing a business plan but, in a post like this, I need to generalise: do not write a plan at all. Write a pitch…first. You should still write a business plan. Just do it from the inspiration you find in your pitch.

A business plan is the elaboration of a pitch; a pitch is not the distillation of business plan. Why? Because a pitch is short enough to encapsulate and express your creativity and enthusiasm and it’s much easier to revise a pitch than a plan.

A pitch is also your story – the ‘why’ of the enterprise. Why you, at this point in your life, have conceived this product or service and why customers will want to buy at the price level you are considering. It should involve your mojo – something you are passionate about and will bring something uniquely different to the marketplace.

Another meaning of the word ‘mojo’ is self-confidence: it also means a strong sense of purpose and a clear identity of who you are and what you, and your enterprise, stand for, not just ‘what’ you are proposing to do. This inner confidence and certainty helps leaders to win hearts and minds, sales people to get prospects excited about their product or service and companies to build loyalty and brand value.

A pitch is the language of your mojo and your creative side; the plan is the nitty gritty details that are best tackled by your analytical persona. You should be able, at the drop of a hat, to stand up and speak about your idea for two, ten or 30 minutes. This is your ‘pitch’.

Give the pitch a few times to friends and colleagues, get honest feedback, see what works and what doesn’t, change it and only then write the plan. Think of your pitch as your outline, and your plan as the full text.

You may not necessarily need to pitch to investors, your bank or even other stakeholders but you do need to pitch to yourself; convince yourself that what you are about to risk – cash, time, energy – are not only worth it but worth giving up alternative courses of action.

Most venture capitalists use gut feel to lead a decision during a pitch: receiving (and possibly even reading!) the full business plan is more about due diligence.

A more relevant and important reason to write a business plan, whether you are raising money or not, is to force yourself to crystallise the objectives (what), strategies (how), and tactics (when, where, who).

Here’s an example of what should be in both your pitch and plan, not necessarily as formally listed as this, but these points should be covered: Executive Summary, Problem, Solution, Business Model, Underlying Magic, Competitors, Marketing and Sales, Team, Projections, Timeline and Conclusions.

Finally, don’t treat a plan as inflexible: it should change to meet circumstances. “Write deliberately, act emergently”, a Clayton Christensen epithet, means that when you write your plan, you act as if you know exactly what you’re going to do. You are deliberate. You may turn out to be wrong but you gave it your best shot.

However, writing deliberately doesn’t mean that you adhere to the plan in the face of new information and new opportunities. As you execute the plan, you act emergently – that is, you are flexible and fast moving, changing as you learn more and more about the marketplace. The plan, after all, should not take on a life of its own.

Jeremy Dent has a self-employed, portfolio existence, acting as a digital marketing communications mentor, leader and supplier under the brand Digital Supremo. He also works part-time as an Emergency Medical Technician for a private ambulance provider to the NHS and private customers. Find him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

How to write more essential words for your business:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

How writing a business book leads to a priceless marketing tool

Having a book published” still holds a certain kudos and perhaps in Pavlov-dog fashion, people automatically associate someone who writes a book about something, with that someone being an expert on the subject.

The “$30 business card” gets people recognised as experts, even if they don’t deserve to be.

In the USA, one prolific speaker on business topics has been heard to describe his books – which he self-publishes – as “$30 business cards.” Cynical perhaps, but the folklore about the author of a book being an expert in his/her field is crystallised therein. However…..

article about writing business books

Business books: just $30 business cards?

[Read more…]

Does it matter who publishes your business or self-help book?

Let’s stop kidding ourselves: self-published books under a cool-sounding publishing company’s name probably do not fool anyone these days.

self-published books

Does the interior of the book look attractive and inviting to read?

Today what matters is that readers get full value for money with a book that looks, and is, professionally produced and published – not necessarily by whom.

Self-published books have come a long way since vanity publishing days

The last thing you want your book to be associated with is anything remotely connected with the vanity publishing ethos of print 5,000 copies of it as it came in unedited, send the books in boxes to the customer, bill them for a lot of money and disappear.’

But what about ‘confessing’ that your book is independently published, as Amazon now refers to it? [Read more…]

Q: Is it worth writing a business or self-help book? A: Yes, as long as it’s GOOD

The book publishing picture has evolved a lot in the last 30 years. With the advent of self and hybrid publishing in addition to the traditional types, today there are literally millions of books for sale out there, and not all of them are good.

Emoji used by Suzan St Maur

How will you benefit from writing and producing a business or self-help book?

Depending on your reasons for wanting to write a book, its concept and content don’t necessarily have to conform to traditional publishing values as they would have had to do 20 years ago.

Traditional publishers’ first criteria were, and still are, that any business book – or any book, for that matter – must be likely to do well out there in its market on its own, with some promotional help, perhaps, from the author and what frankly can be the publishers’ rather lame marketing efforts.

However as some of us already know, many of these books are published (usually self-published) as marketing tools as the means to a PR or promotional end … [Read more…]

Should we still “write” business presentations, or go more ad lib?

Have you ever been on a public speaking or presentation course? I just got back from “Dynamic Delivery” with the one and only Ali Moore, and what a fab day it was. Despite having written scripts for countless speakers over the years, when I get up there myself I can get a little tongue-tied. But not any more.

Article about making presentations

Whichever approach you choose, good preparation is key to a great presentation

There is no magic formula for good public speaking

One of the main takeout points of the day for me, is that there are far fewer rules and rigidly-followed customs in good public speaking now, than there were 20 years ago. In fact to get up and speak to an audience, these days, while seeming to be reading from a script, is often seen as an amateurish no-no. [Read more…]