Understand your industry
If you plan to open an ecommerce store or a monthly wine service it can help your business and planning in many ways to start researching and studying the competition. While you may not find a verbatim business plan that they made, either because they got lucky and didn’t make one or didn’t publish it to the public, your studying will help you capture all aspects of your industry without leaving a stone unturned. The challenges, supplier issues, definition of target customer, headwinds, tailwinds–all these things become more apparent, clear, and will make writing your business plan much easier.
Once you know the challenges you are likely to face, your business plan can establish how you plan to tackle those and what resources you need to allocate to that task. Of course, there will be a myriad of unexpected challenges along the way that you did not plan for, but your business plan could even address how you will respond to those in a general way.
Maybe your plan states you will use a line of credit or debt to handle situations like that or there is a lever on capital expenditures you can pull to reduce cash burn and shore up the balance sheet if an unforeseen event happens.
Look at templates or sample business plans
While every business plan will be different, utilizing a template or an existing plan as a reference can help you focus your plan to what really matters. Often small business owners or budding entrepreneurs can romanticize or neglect certain areas of the business, such as less glamorous things like taxes or legal fees, to the detriment of their business. While a business plan is a high-level view of your business as well as how it will operate, it is not uncommon for these plans to be tens of pages, often close to a hundred for very complex enterprises.
Don’t neglect the mission statement
Many businesses neglect their mission statement or hire it out to a freelance writer to produce in fancy, lofty language. A mission statement is not an archaic concept that no longer applies to fast moving, bootstrapped technology startups, but is the foundation of your business identity and culture.
If you want to start a business in a saturated industry but plan to stand out because of x, then your mission statement should be focused around x. There is a reason you think this venture is a good idea, and that is what the mission statement reflects.
That way, when looking back on your enterprise in the future or faced with a tough decision about the direction you should take; referring back to your mission statement can remind you of your original goals, intents, and help to refocus the company.
That is not to say a mission statement can’t be revised–it can and should, but a powerful, well thought out statement can do wonders for a company. Johnson and Johnson has one of the best etched in stone at their headquarters, and as a result have become one of the most successful companies in the world.