How to write a Smart Business Plan

How to write a Smart Business Plan

Quite often business ideas can seem revolutionary and without an iota of doubt, accomplishable—until of course they get printed on a page and meet the cold light of day.

erThis is what separates a successful business plan from the exhausting pile of failed aspirations: Their ability to translate a visionary business into Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound goals.

SMART goals are the bedrock of successful business plans. They do not only help investors gain concrete insights into your business but alsoguide you in making your business dream a reality.

Importance of a Business Plan

Think of your business plan as a roadmap outlining:

  • What you need to achieve
  • How are you going to achieve it
  • How do you know you’ve achieved it
  • When are you going to review progress and the overall plan

When you’re thinking about each component, remember the SMART factor—specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Of course, this isn’t easy. How do you decide what to keep and what to leave out?

To help you gain a sense of what investors will expect, let us apply SMART goals to a standard business plan comprising of three sections: market research, financials, and launch schedule.

Our application will also provide a general template into writing a business plan. Before we apply SMART goals to a business plan, let’s look at the different types.

Types of Business Plans

  1. Start-up Business Plan

A start-up business plan emphasizes on the detailed steps to begin a new enterprise.

  1. Internal Business Plan

An internal business plan targets a specific component of a business, for example a marketing proposal for a new innovative idea.

  1. Strategic Business Plan

A strategic business plan is meant to circulate at the high-end table: It explores potential avenues for growth. An important element in this plan is a holistic approach, connecting the long-term goal to the foundational vision of the business.

  1. Growth Business Plan

A growth plan can be written for both internal and external purposes. It should include financial analysis for growth like extrapolations. Furthermore, the rate of growth should be offset by potential costs.

Aspects of a Business Plan

  1. Market Research Section

The market research section simply probes into the opportunities available in the market. The success of your business heavily relies on the market conditions the business will face. And within those conditions, how do you see your business rising to the top? From the bat, it is evident this question is quite broad. This is where SMART plays a role.

Thinking in terms of SMART, identify what agencies you want to target to secure projects. How will your approach be tailored to captivate their interest?

These are the questions you must answer in light of the data you have collected. Bonus tip: Show how this component interacts with other aspects of your business plan. Despite having different sections, a business plan is one document.

Finally, end this section with listing two or three goals that can be easily accomplished to create a sense of direction.

  1. Financial Section

Don’t fixate on perfecting your financials. You can never get them exactly as you want. But you can create SMART financials.

In terms of revenue, try to highlight the specific revenue streams capable of generating income for your business. Don’t fret over the size of revenue; list all the options available but be honest about the percentage each stream contributes. In the end, reconcile the revenue streams with the major goals mentioned earlier in the plan.

In terms of costs, apply the same reasoning as revenue. What are the main sources of costs? What realistically can you project these costs? It hard not be emphasize this enough: Be HONEST with the way you present data. This won’t merely help you develop a deeper sincere relationship with your investors but also with yourself.

Honesty doesn’t undermine the big picture your plan alludes to. In fact, it makes it more realistic.

  1. Launch Schedule

A launch schedule should be divided quarterly: List all the actions your business needs to complete every 3 months.

To incorporate the SMART factor, list one prime factor that can be easily accomplished within the quarter. For example, the first goal could be setting up a website on social media and aiming to reach a certain number of followers. Your consequent goals can build upon the first achievable one.

The Way Forward: Review and Evolve

A business plan isn’t static; it is alive and continuous. The best way to update your business plan is by setting review dates based on your goals. This enables you to take action when the direction of your business slips away from the intended path.

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