How to write a business plan. The simple structure.

Updated October 2021.

Before you invest so much effort and resources into your idea, you might want to be able to see the potential of your idea. Right? For many, financial resources are very limited, so who wants to start off investing so much money without any hope of making some of it back? Nobody! That is why you should take time to develop a business plan or a strategy document. I like to call it a “fluid roadmap”. The core purpose of this business plan is for you to be able to transform your “plentiful” ideas into a structure that can develop. 

3 reasons why you need  a business plan

Sometimes you might even need this document to relate with other potential investors, fundiers, partners and so on. But I know that many people are scared about developing a business plan.The process is a very technical one and if you are a creative person, then it might even be your worst nightmare. But relax. That is why we are here. In this blog, I will explain how you can easily develop your own business plan. I will also share the standard structure with you, but before here are 3 reasons why you have to engage in creating your business plan now. 

  1. A business plan allows you the time to think through as many steps as possible. From your idea to actually making your first sale, launching or scaling. 
  2. There is no failure, there is only feedback. However, you will reduce the risk of making massive setbacks and mistakes. I do not want you to lose money. So you will need to sit down and think through what you want to do. This way, you get to discover even more areas that need some more thought from you. 
  3. While you craft out your business plan, you get to develop a budget too for your idea. This allows you to know roughly how much money, resources and capital you will need. 
Watch this video on why you need a business plan.

Every business idea must solve a problem and/or give extremely important value to a target audience. No matter how small or huge. So if you have started already, this is excellent! However, it is never too late to do this part. 

Can I hire someone to write my business plan for me?

Many people want to know if they should/can write their plan themselves or hire someone to do it. My advice is that you should try to write your plan yourself. Because that is a great avenue to think of the most important parts of your idea. You only need to hire someone to write a business plan for you if 1.) You intend to show someone important the plan, 2.) and you do not have good writing skills. In this case, you can record an audio version for someone to put down in good writing.

No luxury of time to read a long business plan

Many people would not have the luxury of time to read through your complete business plan. So they will want a quick overview to understand the idea and see if they will support it. There are some easy formats to present this. Either you develop a 2 pager or a 5 slide deck of your business plan to show people. I have included links to our business tool that will help you create  these formats. Now, let’s take a short look at 2 very important parts of your business plan. After that, I will list the items that need to be in your plan in a structured way. 

The opener and problem

Remember the saying that the first impression matters. Same goes for a business plan. The executive summary opens the door for you. It is your first impression. An executive summary is a short summary of your idea or business plan. This means you actually write it after you have finished your plan. Meanwhile you can write anything you believe is a summary of your ideas first and come back later to upgrade it after you have thought through the questions and points we explore beneath. Start your business plan with a clear and precise problem statement.

A problem is always the driver of a business case. 

A problem is basically something that causes discomfort to either people, animals, things, structures or our environment. Defining the problem you are solving for your customers is far and away the most critical element of your business plan. It is crucial for your business success. When we talk about a problem in a business plan,  it is actually viewed from a positive perspective. Problem as an opportunity. A perspective of how it can be solved. A solution based view. 

To find out if your idea has a demand, let’s dwell on the problem your idea would solve for the specific customer. Ask yourself these questions and if your answer is yes, you can happily move on. If your answer is no, then you need to do more thinking in depth to analyze your business idea.  

  1. Would your idea solve a specific problem for a customer?
  2. Would your idea be more efficient for the customer?
  3. Is your idea better than the way the customer is already solving the specific problem?

Simple standard structure of a business plan

  1. Executive summary – basically summary the whole business. 
  2. Problem statement – this highlights the situation your product or service will solve. Apart from what I have explained above, here is a blog where you can get to read more on developing a problem statement
  3. Solution – product/service you intend to offer. Here you get to highlight key research information that you have carried out. Research is so important. When you research you want to know more about the market, the potential customers, your competitors. 
  4. Marketing – product, price, promotion & placement. Identify your unique selling value. 
  5. Finance plan – this will include your budget of expenses you estimate to spend, the income streams and how much you forecast to make. Also you can include how you intend to start financing the business for the first 6 months. 
  6. Operations – this is a part of a business plan that many people forget. Operations refer to what you will do daily to make the business work. I advise you to actually develop a kind of milestone with a work plan about your major and sub activities of the next 6 months. 
  7. Scalability – this simply means that you think about the potential opportunity your business can have and how you will expand. It might mean that you open up new locations, sell to new audiences, launch new products etc.
  8. Team – the uniqueness of your team. This is all about competence. Why they or if it is just you, why you are the best person to carry out this business. 
  9. Contact details are self explanatory if you want to show someone the plan. 

Some more tips for your business plan

Make sure to add a picture in the executive summary, but the picture must show the solution you are creating. If you will show someone else the business plan, then write the plan in a reader friendly manner. Do not use industrial buzzwords or technical jargons.

3 take away from this blog – business plan creation
  1. Brush Up your executive summary after you have developed your business plan. 
  2. Establish a good problem statement.
  3. Take time to think through each point and write the plan yourself. 

Hey, thank you so much for stopping by and reading through to the end. I really appreciate it, because it takes so much to put this together. Hope you liked it. If you did, remember to share this blog on social media. 

Meanwhile, we have developed a unique app to bring together on one platform,  both international partners/investors and Nigerian entrepreneurs to share business data intelligence and connect both to the market. The App is going through the test stage and you can be a part of the testers by downloading right here. Want to stay connected to know when we have opportunities, kindly sign up to our newsletter. For more content, check our YouTube channel. If you need to book a FREE  Q&A with Joadr, then make reservations here

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I am Joana, a Nigerian-born Austrian-based entrepreneur and activist. Founded Joadre in 2012 and continue to develop content to engage and empower African SMEs.

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