A solid business plan will help you identify the goals you have for your business and make it easier to make decisions about which path to take when there are multiple options ahead of you.
If you’re new to the concept, here are four essential areas you need to cover to help you take your first steps towards success.
1. Cover all the bases.
The best plan covers a wide range of areas – not just those where your personal strengths lie. If, for example, you are a phenomenal coder, that’s great, but that doesn’t mean you can run a business of your own. Showing that you have a clear understanding of areas you might know little about, such as marketing, sales and accounting, is essential if you want investors to have the confidence to back you.
You don’t need to master all or even any of those skills yourself. You can either hire those with more expertise in those areas or simply outsource until your business is big enough to hire staff of its own. The important thing is to show that you are aware those parts of the business exist and that they won’t be magically taken care of by someone else.
2. Present a Detailed strategy.
Showing that you know the exact steps you need to take in order to achieve success, as well as being able to explain why your firm will succeed where others might have failed or might not venture, is essential if you want your business plan to get potential investors excited.
If your product or service outperforms others on the market, show why your ideas are better both in those contexts and in the context of running a business as a whole. Demonstrate the many ways in which your business is sustainable, your plans for growth and how you expect the business to look a year or two years down the line.
3. Security protocols.
The rise of cybercrime means that security has become a board-level consideration. Jobs can be lost, or business shutdown if security isn’t taken seriously. It is now no longer a case of wondering if your company might be the victim of an attack, but rather planning how to deal with the fallout when the inevitable attack comes. This is known as “assume breach” where you assume a breach has already occurred and it’s a matter of time before you find out about it.
Showing that you are aware of the threat by including a rudimentary strategy in your business plan will show potential investors that you are being wholly realistic about the level of threat and not simply burying your head in the sand.
Practical steps you can take to mitigate the threat include stating your intention to hire a chief security officer as soon as it becomes practical, and detailing the precautions you are taking with your hardware/software systems.
If you plan to utilize cloud services for your IT needs, then make sure you have a plan to address the security issues that come with using the cloud. While your existing firewall and proxy will help protect your network, securing your cloud usage requires additional security technology. Make sure you understand all the security controls applicable to cloud services, such as single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, or security controls offered by cloud access security brokers (CASB). CASBs protect both the data that’s in the cloud and the users that access that data.
4. An exit strategy.
Your exit strategy need not form part of your formal business plan, but it is something you need to have in mind for the earliest possible stage. The reason is that the way you run your business on a day-to-day basis will be very different if you have a clear end in mind, rather than just assuming the business will run on and on forever. It is quite likely – in fact almost guaranteed – that the exit strategy will change as your business grows, but having one in place means it can be easily adapted to keep you on track with your long-term goals.