In a sense, ‘best practices’ is a euphemism for business plans. Developing business plans is critical to success because it is focused on what makes a business successful. The term best practices is tossed about quite a bit, but what does it specifically mean for a business plan?
The business plan best practices means building a convincing case that your company is an excellent proposition that efficiently and effectively serves the market by providing products and services that the market will embrace. The primary way the business case is built is by differentiating the business in some manner. The business plan must leave no doubt as to why the company is selling particular items and how those items will appeal to the target market.
To determine the best practices for marketing, the competition must be thoroughly analyzed. The analysis is not just a case of listing competitors selling similar products or services. The competition must be assessed as to what it is doing now to succeed and how it plans on succeeding in the future. In other words, best practices are forward thinking, and the plan preparer does not get mired down by focusing only on the past. In addition, businesses that can easily become competitors need to be considered also.
A best practice in business plan development is to develop a thorough understanding of competitor specifics. Exactly what sets your competitors apart? Each company has something unique about its products, marketing strategies, management, customer service practices, or product and service delivery. You need to understand these differences in detail to position your company correctly.
It can be fatal to underestimate the competition as many businesses have learned. Even seasoned companies like RIM and Blockbuster found themselves struggling to survive because they failed to understand what the competition was offering the niche market. Your goal in the business plan is prove the competition is not addressing a problem you are able to solve, and then develop a strategic marketing plan to implement your particular solution.
In addition, best practices in business plans dictates establishing realistic financial goals. A new business will need to make a profit with a couple of years in most cases in order to remain viable. Projecting unreasonable sales or underestimating expenses will be detected by experienced angel investors, banks, venture capitalists and equity funders. There must be evidence or documentation that the business plan marketing and financial goals make sense based on industry performance. You can project sales and expenses for brand new products and services, but they still need to be based on market research.
There are many other best practices that include developing a flexible business plan and analyzing best case/worst case scenarios. Ultimately, the business plan is about honesty – honest descriptions, honest research, honest analysis and honest assumptions.
Browse www.funded.com for more advice about getting your business funded.