Finally building your own business and really taking off - that's the dream of many, but not everyone makes it. Why? Because they proceed haphazardly, in the truest sense of the word. If you want to aim high, you need structures and clear goals. Writing a business plan is the first big and important step towards success.
Now, countless questions are bound to pop up in your head. How do you write such a plan and what belongs in it? How can it help me with my Business to go through the ceiling and who even reads it except myself? Don't panic, we have all the answers for you!
What is a business plan?
First things first: What exactly is a business plan anyway? If we translate the term into German, it means "business plan". In other words, you forge a plan for how you want to move your business forward and turn your ideas into reality. It's a kind of roadmap that guides you from the first stop - your business idea - to the final stop - the successfully built company - and helps you stay on course on this journey.
Why do I need a business plan?
On your way to the top, in addition to an idea and hard work, you need one thing above all: capital. Not every founder can raise enough of it out of his or her own pocket. If you also need some financial support from the bank or from investors, you first have to convince them. And you can do that if you have thought about writing a business plan - but more detailed information on this topic can be found later.
First of all, it should be noted that you are not only writing your plan for yourself, because the banks, possible investors and potential business partners will also read it. Who buys a pig in a poke?
Make your mark in the industry
Do you create a Business planthe chances of success are also significantly greater - and that's not just a figure of speech. There are risks lurking everywhere in the market, no matter what industry you're in. Probably one of the biggest risks is that you have not optimally adapted your offer to your target group. This is exactly what you can avoid with business plan writing.
Thanks to your plan, you know exactly what your customers want and can adapt your products accordingly. The same applies to your marketing, since it should address exactly the group of buyers who might actually be interested in your goods. Thanks to your business plan, you'll also be able to keep an eye on your competitors and come up with ideas on how best to overtake them.
Jumpstart your business
Did you know that potential founders are much more likely to start their own business if they have written a business plan? That's logical, because plans offer security and, to a certain extent, provide a path. If, on the other hand, you act on the spur of the moment, you're more likely to throw in the towel. Uncertainty is never a good partner, especially not in this type of venture.
Writing a business plan not only increases the probability that you will become a founder. According to studies, companies that rely on it grow around 30 % faster! Of course, a business plan is not a guarantee for great success. But it is always a very valuable help.
What are the concrete advantages of business plan writing?
We have already mentioned a few reasons why writing a business plan is really beneficial. Now let's take a closer look at the benefits, starting with money. Your business plan is not only your ticket to banks and investors, it's also the foundation you need to get your head around how much capital you actually need in the first place. Finances are one of the most common factors why startups fail.
Writing a business plan as a "dry run
Do you still remember how you learned to swim? Surely your swimming instructor didn't just throw you into the water, but first showed you on the dry edge of the pool which movements you have to make in order to stay afloat. Writing a business plan works in a similar way. You first put your plans down on paper and can then check whether they are realistic at all. In this way, you discover gross errors before they become serious and can correct them in time.
Do not waste time
Sometimes time really is money. Especially when you're starting a business, you don't have time to waste. Erroneous paths also cost money and nerves. With business plan writing you create a guide for yourself, thanks to which you always have all the steps in front of you and can accordingly take concrete measures that you have already planned in advance.
Of course, you can't plan everything perfectly in advance, because sometimes things just turn out differently than you thought at the beginning. Your business plan helps you even then, because it enables you to intervene early on if you notice that everything is moving in a different direction.
Writing a business plan: What is the perfect structure?
A good and coherent business plan consists of four parts. You first start with a summary and then move on to the text part including your idea. This is followed by the figures section, which deals with your finances, and finally it's the turn of the appendix, including your CV and the like. We will now take a detailed look at the whole thing.
1. business plan writing with a short and crisp summary.
In the summary, you briefly introduce your plan and outline the key points of your plan. This part provides a good overview of what is to come and helps the reader to better understand what you will say later. So explain roughly what you have in mind and don't forget the first important figures. State how much equity capital you are bringing in and how much debt capital you need. It is also important at this point how much turnover and how much profit you have in prospect.
2. the text part with all important explanations
Now you go into more detail about your business idea and explain to the reader what benefits you offer to your potential customers. Why exactly are you the person who can turn this vision into reality? What special skills do you possess that will make the project a success?
The next section is about sales and competition, and you explain which target group you are addressing. Why should they buy from you and what features make you stand out from the competition? Present strategies on how to inspire your customers and retain their loyalty in the long term. It is also important which sales channels you want to use to position yourself in the market.
About team, company structure and risks
The focus now shifts from your customers to your team. Introduce your team members, explain what experience, talents and qualifications they bring with them and what tasks they will take on. If you have business partners, present them as well and explain why working with them makes sense for your company. What tasks will you leave to them? When writing a business plan, it is also important at this point what values you stand for with your company.
Speaking of the company: How is it actually structured? It's best to start with a very simple presentation of your production processes. Here, you can go into detail about your central core activities and which services you use externally. Your legal form is also relevant at this point. Show why you have chosen this legal form.
The conclusion of the text section is marked by an analysis of the risks. What can you do to minimize them or even avert them completely? You can find out here when writing your business plan.
3. the numbers part: now it's time for the financial part of business plan writing
The numbers part is actually the most stressful part for most people. At the same time, however, it is also the most important, because banks, investors and potential business partners are particularly interested in it. That is why it is often referred to as the heart of the business plan. This is where your revenue sources and sales belong, as well as your operating costs.
Also relevant are the amount of taxes and information regarding the liquidity and profitability of your company. When writing your business plan, be particularly thorough in the figures section, because this will show whether an investment in your company or a collaboration is actually worthwhile.
4. the appendix together with your documents
Probably the most important attachment is your resume. It should clearly show what experience you have already gained and what skills you possess that will help you move your business forward. Copies of expert opinions, partnership agreements or technical documents are also interesting.
Writing a business plan: What are the bank's requirements?
Writing a business plan is an indispensable task when it comes to attracting investors. Of course, this also applies to banks. If you want to take out a loan to start your business, no bank will grant it to you just like that. You first have to prove that your idea is actually feasible and will be profitable. The bank wants to be sure that it will see its money again at some point.
It is important, however, that you do not talk too big and throw utopian profit prospects into the room. Banks, of course, have experience with loans for start-ups and can well assess whether you are making realistic statements or deliberately exaggerating in order to look better. Much more convincing than big numbers is a sophisticated plan that solidly justifies how and why your sales will increase and over what period of time.
Have you already had your first customer meetings or even landed orders? The more plausible your financial forecasts are, the more likely it is that your bank will grant you the loan.
A trustworthy impression
Don't worry, you don't have to be in the black from day one. Every bank knows that this is quite unrealistic and that it may well take a while for newly founded companies to actually make a profit. It may well take some time before the infamous break-even point is reached. As long as you can plausibly justify why it is delayed, your bank will usually not cause you any problems.
In any case, you'll have a solid foundation if you invest as much equity capital as possible in your company. This doesn't mean that you have to live on bread and water from now on. Of course, your investment should not drive you to financial ruin. But with equity capital you show the bank that you believe in your idea and are convinced that success will come. They will then be more willing to grant you the loan.
Typical mistakes in business plan writing
Every day, countless founders devote themselves to the task of writing a business plan. In the process, no one is spared from mistakes. Some of them occur quite frequently and we have compiled a list of them for you. Of course, we will also show you how you can avoid them.
You adopt business plan templates
Writing a business plan is a big task that takes a lot of time and sometimes also nerves. Any support comes in handy, e.g. in the form of templates. You can use these, no question, but only for orientation. Feel free to follow them, but don't copy the content one-to-one.
Every person is individual, so is every company and therefore its business plan. What you can definitely use is the Business Model Canvas. It consists of nine elements that combine to form your personal business model.
You focus on the idea and not on the people
Of course, it is basically the idea on which a company is built. But it's actually the people who drive it forward, and that includes employees and customers alike. The team implements the ideas, while the customers keep the business alive thanks to their purchases. No matter how good the idea is, it would be worth nothing without the people.
You do too little market research
As a founder, you are naturally convinced of your idea. But that doesn't necessarily mean that your company will shoot through the roof. In addition to your optimism, you need customers. To do this, you need to know their needs and offer appropriate products. That's where market research can help you, so it's better to invest more time than too little.
You don't have business terms up your sleeve
As a founder, you need to be trustworthy in order to attract investors and impress customers. This includes knowing exactly what you are talking about and the meaning of the most important business terms. You should know about financial planning, taxes, liquidity and legal forms.
You plan too little capital
Money is always a tricky business and countless founders strive to invest as little as possible, believing, "This will work out somehow." But this is very rarely the case. Most of the time it is actually the case that even significantly more capital is required than originally assumed. In addition, it often takes longer to reach the break-even point.
Don't forget that as a startup, you'll have a hard time holding your own in the marketplace. You first have to draw attention to yourself in order to attract customers and then assert yourself among all the competition. This doesn't happen overnight, so always plan enough buffer. How annoying would it be if it ultimately failed because the budget was too tight?
You ignore valuable tools
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