What is it for and how to make a business plan

Business Plan what is it for and how to do it

The Business Plan is a tool that allows entrepreneurs to plan the future of their company. Defining some goals and objectives not only allows you to clarify the situation in which your entrepreneurial project is positioned in the competitive market, but also to prepare alternatives that fit better and face any difficulties that arise. The Business Plan project is a reference that, during the company's operation, will also allow checking how the objectives and goals set are being met and how the strategy can be adapted to improve performance. Let's see what it is, how to do it and what the Business Plan is for.

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

What is a Business Plan

The business plan is a document that describes the enterprise and allows the entrepreneur and his team to guide, over time, setting objectives, anticipating situations, evaluating potential risks and creating the strategy and paths to achieve them.

To achieve this, it must include an analysis of the market, competitors, target audience, as well as the strategy for the operation.

It is with this analysis that it will be possible to have a more complete vision and understanding of reality, allowing us to find better solutions for the challenges that arise and increasing the probability of business success.

Another aspect of what a business plan is for is from the perspective of investors, partners and other “stackeholders”, it allows a clear vision of the company's viability. 

Being able to present an integrated view of the context is what the Business Plan is for.

What is a Business Plan for?

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When the project is in the start-up phase, this plan serves to show the challenges that arise, helping to find appropriate strategies to overcome them and showing the viability of each alternative that is foreseen.

It shows the positioning of the company within the market, what distinguishes it from the competition, what are the characteristics of the target audience and how the company can be balanced to overcome the challenges of starting up.

If the company is in operation, the Business Plan allows you to find strategies for expanding the company, for launching new products and, above all, it is a guide that allows you to know, at any time, how the objectives are being achieved. fulfilled.

Planning activities is an important step towards success.

The Business Plan is an important tool because it allows you to avoid making some less accurate decisions.

First you have to check the impact of these decisions on the company's various plans and then the economic and financial impact, allowing you to adjust the decision in order to maximize the positive impact and minimize or eliminate the negative impact.

With this plan it is possible to demonstrate the feasibility of the enterprise, from the various points of view, whether strategic, operational, technical, market or economic and financial.

Advantages of the Business Plan

In addition to allowing you to plan the company's activities, this document gives a vision of how it will work, how its products and services adapt to the needs of future customers, how the competition will react and how we propose to overcome difficulties.

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Entrepreneurs' overconfidence often leads them to not draft a business plan. This is the main cause of business failure.

Another reason why a business plan is useful is the preparation process itself, as it helps to study the market, customers, suppliers and competitors in greater depth and translate the idea into values ​​that will ultimately be a preview of the company's results.

It allows you to visualize the economic and financial results that are foreseen, facilitating communication with partners, financiers or possible loans.

The Business Plan project allows, among other advantages:

  • Better organize ideas;
  • Provide management with the economic and financial results of each planned action;
  • Improve communication between the team and reinforce their confidence and commitment;
  • Help with any request for credit or in obtaining a difficult resource;
  • Help with management transparency;
  • Align the expectations of all stakeholders, partners and investors.

How to make a Business Plan

Although with some variations, most publications and existing literature indicate that a company's Business Plan has the following chapters:

  • Executive summary
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing plan
  • Operations Plan
  • Financial plan
  • Strategic Analysis
  • Scenario Assessment
business plan
business plan

Executive summary

This is the most important chapter of the business plan, as it summarizes the main goals and strategies for achieving them, detailed in the following chapters.

Being the first to be read is what will make a good first impression, whether on future partners or on potential investors or business partners.

The executive summary should detail the following aspects:

  • description of the enterprise;
  • what is the company's mission;
  • impact it may have on the market;
  • description of the entrepreneurial team profile;
  • description of the employees' profile and what specific training will be required for employees;
  • products and services offered and differentiation from the competition, with the main benefits they bring;
  • profile of potential customers;
  • location, in the case of a physical company;
  • investment to be made;
  • legal nature.

While this is the first chapter to be presented, as it reflects the rest of the business plan, it also has to be the last to be updated with data and conclusions from the various components of the plan.

Market analysis

This chapter encompasses the most complete possible analyzes or market research on customers, competitors and suppliers.

Customer Study

In this chapter we aim to get to know potential customers well.

What can we do to attract them and then to retain them.

Without forgetting that it is more difficult and more expensive to attract than to retain customers, the strategy to be developed must take this into account.

In order to characterize potential customers, some points must be considered:

  • What kind of customers will you have? People or companies?
  • What is the age group, gender, education, among others, that will be predominant in the business?
  • How often do they consume the product or service we offer?
  • Where do you usually buy?
  • Where would you like to buy?
  • Which competing companies do potential customers most admire? It's because?
  • What do you value most in a company?
  • What drives them to look for this product or service?
  • How often do they buy these products or services again?
  • What media do you normally use to stay informed?
  • What criteria do you consider when making the purchase decision?

Collecting this information does not fall from the sky and you cannot assume that you already know everything about this subject.

You should collect information using surveys, interviews, meetings with hypothetical clients or even, if your budget allows, using specialized services.

Competition Analysis

Identify which are the most relevant competitors in the market in which it proposes to participate.

Check the strengths and weaknesses of each of them.

With this knowledge you will be able to find ways to better differentiate and make products or services more competitive.

Know good practices that can also serve as guidance and, instead, behaviors or actions that should be avoided.

Some points to consider to obtain a complete analysis:

  • What is the quality of the product or service offered by the competitor?
  • What are the prices charged?
  • Are there new sales techniques used by competitors?
  • Is the audience the same that we are addressing?
  • What drives a customer to choose the company in question?
  • What makes a customer give up doing business with this company?
  • What publicity and promotion actions does the competitor do?
  • What features does customer service have?
  • What are the payment terms you offer?
  • What time does the physical space open and close?
  • What extra services do you offer, for example home delivery?
  • What can we offer that competitors don't?
  • What are the business process support information systems used by competitors?
  • What is the most used distribution logistics in the market?
  • What types of promotion are used by the competition?

Another important point to consider is how each competitor can react to the opening of your company!

Supplier Analysis

The suppliers will be the business partners that will provide the raw materials, equipment, systems and other goods and services necessary for the proper functioning of the company.

To better plan the opening of the company we need to know them and choose the ones that best suit your particular needs. It is during the Business Plan project phase that these issues must be reflected and analyzed.

Here are some points to consider when analyzing suppliers:

  • What do I need to buy?
  • Which companies supply each necessary item?
  • What are the prices charged by each of them?
  • What are the payment terms?
  • What are the delivery times?
  • How is support offered?
  • What are the minimum order quantities?
  • Where are the suppliers located?

It is good policy to have more than one supplier, particularly for products or services that are most critical to the business.

Thus, it only has a greater negotiating capacity but, above all, it reduces the risk of the business stopping if that single supplier fails to deliver.

Marketing plan

It is in the marketing plan that the characteristics of each product or service that is intended to be offered must be described in detail.

Characteristics such as colors, flavors and aromas, packaging, quality, certifications that may exist, labels, brands, logos, environmental footprint and everything that applies to each product or service produced.

Some issues that must be addressed:

  • How can you describe the product or service we offer?
  • At what price will it be sold and what is the profit margin?
  • Is the price comparable to the market?
  • How does the product stand out from the competition?
  • What will be the customer's behavior in relation to this product/service?
  • Is it a product for a local or comprehensive market? National or international?
  • How should the product be advertised?
  • Will sales take place in physical stores or online?
  • And if they are online, how is the delivery done?
  • What is the most used distribution plan?

This is the starting point for the entire team involved in the project to better understand the unique characteristics of the product or service that is intended to be sold on the market.

Operations Plan

This plan is intended to clarify what the sales value will be in the various months since the company's opening to the public.

With this sales estimate we will have to calculate what the costs will be to produce the products and services, namely the costs of raw materials, labor costs and other costs of operating the business.

Some points to consider in this phase of construction of the Business Plan project:

• how long it takes for a sale to be made;

• how many employees will be needed;

• what qualifications are required for employees;

• what equipment and materials are necessary for sales to be completed;

• what are the production, distribution and storage capacities;

• the availability of products or raw materials at suppliers and the delivery time for each of these items.

If a business plan is for a company that will have a physical space or an industrial area, there is a need to identify the arrangement of equipment in the available space, in order to optimize routes between equipment.

Financial plan

Take note of all the monetary values ​​that will be necessary for the financing and daily management of the company, namely share capital, equipment acquisition, operational costs, whether fixed or variable costs and working capital needs.

How much are we going to spend on domains, hosting e-commerce sites, salaries, advertising, rents, insurance, among others.

This way, we know what total investment will be necessary, not only for the start-up, but also to maintain itself in the first months while the result is not yet profitable.

With this scenario, you also know whether you can make the investment alone, or whether you need investors to help you, or whether you will need to take out a loan.

Include a summary with the Income Statement (DR) in which it will be easy to see income and expenses side by side and you will be able to better understand how long the business needs for the return on investment to be realized.

Strategic Analysis

Let's now complete another step on this path of how to make a Business Plan, the strategic analysis of the enterprise.

We can use a SWOT Analysis, acronym for the English term, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats or in Portuguese, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Strengths and Threats, SWOT analysis.

With this tool, we assess the external and internal environment of the enterprise, as well as the opportunities and threats that may arise.

In fact, it is the intersection of 4 quadrants that can be seen in this table:

Business Plan and SWOT Analysis
Business Plan and SWOT Analysis

Strong points

  • What characteristics are we better at than the competition?
  • What are the advantages of the company, products or brand

Weaknesses

  • What are the points where the competition outperforms us?
  • What are the limitations of the company, products or brand

Opportunities

  • What opportunities are still to be explored?
  • What trends favor the company, product or brand

Threats

  • What factors negatively influence the sales process
  • What obstacles exist internally and externally

Scenario Evaluation in the Business Plan Project

It involves simulating different alternatives in the various parameters of the business.

We can consider more optimistic, more pessimistic or even more realistic scenarios. The important thing is to simulate alternatives and analyze the impact they have on the results.

This will enable a clearer vision, not only of the current scenario but what may be found in the future and to be able to plan strategies for these impacts.

Each of the main scenarios we can consider:

• optimistic scenario: considers a very favorable environment for the business, with targets that are exceeded, expenses below estimates and low production costs;

• pessimistic scenario: considers possible adversities, predicting the worst possible situations so that the team can know in advance how to deal with these situations, if necessary;

• realistic scenario: it is one that seems to be the most appropriate to the reality that we found in the analyzes carried out. He is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. It is based on the true information we access and in a very critical way.

How you can make a Business Plan – Tools and support to help you build it

We recommend some tools and support that help you create a Business Plan:

  • Support from IAPMEI: provides management support tools, evaluator of innovation levels; financial and digital maturity diagnosis, among others;
  • Guide for your Business: from the Portuguese Government where you will see what the Business Plan is for.
  • O Pássaro no Ombro™ There are several articles explaining step by step how to create a business plan, with examples.

Conclusion

The very process of drawing up the business plan, by forcing people to think, investigate, analyze and document, is the best way to not be surprised by unforeseen events and make the business work and succeed.

Being able to show details of the various plans, marketing, operational and financial makes it very clear, both for you and for partners, partners or potential investors, which are the estimates of the project's profitability and the reliability of the vision that underlies the project.

The SWOT Analysis is also a way of showing the company's strategic vision that will be important for investors, or for the employees themselves to feel involved and motivated for the project.

We hope we have been useful, not only in clarifying what a Business Plan is and what it is for, but also in how to do it.

Being a successful entrepreneur it really takes a lot of work.

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