How to write a business plan to align your business model

Are you an entrepreneur who needs to learn how to write a business plan? Maybe you have a product that you believe will “go big” but you are not sure how to properly get it “out there” or “to market”.

A key element when writing a business plan is to begin with the need and not necessarily the product or service. What are people missing in their daily lives that could make it that much better?

Your business plan begins with a vision statement and everything that proceeds is how you will achieve that vision on a high level. Your team aligns to this vision by providing details on how they will achieve certain goals on a macro and micro level.


Elements on how to write a business plan

There are nine elements to consider when writing your business plan. These include:

  1. Assessment of Market
  2. Identification of Customer Segments
  3. Description of Key Buyer Values
  4. Assessment of Strengths and Weaknesses of Competitive Alternatives
  5. Clear Distribution Strategy
  6. Assessment of Risks
  7. 5 year Pro-forma financial statements including Cash Flow Model, Income Statement and Balance Sheet
  8. Detailed description of management team
  9. Clear Exit Strategy with potential buyers identified


A viable business model

The biggest thing to remember when building a business plan is that it’s always about the customer and how you will meet their needs. Developing a business model means you are describing how your business will operate in order to meet those needs and generate revenue.

When deciding on a viable business model for your product or service, the golden rule is to ask yourself, “does this story makes sense?”

A business model should include the roles and responsibilities of each employee, answer questions about your product and your customer, and proposed marketing and distribution strategies.

Remember, creating a business plan or model should never be done alone and should be a group activity with different departments in your company. This ensures everyone has a voice and common understanding in the process.  It is also great to receive feedback on whether the business model will be viable across a number of channels.


Your ‘Go-to-Market’ Plan

This helps you plan everything from ensuring you are building the right product for the right customers, to product support after it has launched. Market strategies are the result of a meticulous and well-researched analysis of your proposed market.

This allows you to define and segment your target market and become familiar with their habits and beliefs. Market research also allows the company to position itself in order to pick up its share of sales.

If you are looking at more specific areas of expertise, there are numerous business plan templates available online that isolate certain areas.


Business Plan example templates:

  • Target market segments – does your product have segmented target markets? You may find your target market is broken up into groups (i.e. kids under the age of 5, the elderly or the most popular group 18-35).
  • Key customer attributes – how does your key customer shop and live their life?
  • Value proposition – how would you like to be identified in the market?
  • Offering – where will they go to purchase your offering and also receive product support?
  • Sales and customer service channels – what are the procedures for customer service and sales?
  • Financial model and budgeting – what mathematical model will you use to reflect the finances and activities of your business?
  • Marketing – how will you market your product or service? There are three key parts to marketing; creating brand awareness, building a marketing calendar and developing a sales kit so that all employees can use a consistent message when approaching a customer.


Don’t forget about your team

A common mistake amongst start-ups and new businesses is not taking the time to align your vision with your team. This includes discussing plans with your team and receiving feedback. This feedback can become invaluable in reaching your company’s goals.

Take the time to build a strong business, an effective go-to-market plan and most importantly, team alignment in order to achieve both the long term and short term goals of your company.