Top 10 Business Plan Tips
A business plan can not only help you find clarity in your small business but is essential to forming professional partnerships, securing a loan, or working with investors. Here are ten tips to writing a business plan that will be taken seriously.
- Find a Suitable Template. Buy a book, take a class, research online, check out the Small Business
Administration (Central Indiana Small Business Development Corporation) for guidance on drafting a
- Prepare a Complete Business Plan. Include all necessary elements in a compelling format that is enticing
to the reader. Your business plan should include sections for: Mission or Vision Statement, Target Audience, Business Profile, Economic Assessment, Feasibility, Cash Flow Projections, Marketing, and Expansion.
- Research Your Industry. Compare your industry to business plan templates you have found. What is special about your business? What element might require more focus? Do you provide a product or service? Know how a business plan will work with your business.
- Have a Clear Mission or Vision. Clearly, emphatically, and succinctly state your goals for your artwork and your business. Don’t make an investor hunt (or guess) at why you exist; they don’t care that much and will lose interest quickly.
- Be Realistic. Don’t overestimate income or underestimate expenses. Make sure your sales goals are achievable. Break down “sales units” into component parts. If it takes you 1 hour to book a session, 4 hours to shoot a session, and 12 hours to proof the session, what is the entire package worth?
- Give yourself time to succeed. Don’t expect profitability in the first few months (or years). Your business plan should reflect both a reasonable timeline to profit and a supporting cash inflow while you are waiting.
- Don’t undersell yourself. Be sure you understand – and charge – what your time is worth.
- Review and Change as Needed. A business plan is not a one-time document. As your business grows and evolves, your business plan (like your resume) will change. Review your business plan at least annually, so when you need to provide it to an investor or bank it will not require a lot of work and research.
- Be Professional. A well-drafted, appealing business plan says a lot about you and your business. It tells investors and bankers that you think about your art as a business and you have the data to prove it. Don’t forget punctuation and grammar! A professional-looking business plan can make the difference between a “maybe not,” and “YES.”
- Know your Plan. Be thoroughly familiar with your plan, and be able to summarize it into an elevator speech. If you can hook your audience in 60 seconds, you will have time to go into more detail later. If you can’t say it in 60 seconds, work on it until it is smooth, engaging, interesting, and SHORT.