Any business owner who desires to be successful must have a functional business plan in place before they set out. A popular maxim says that failing to plan is like planning to fail, and the same applies to business. Here is an expert guide to help you in creating a functional business plan.

Research your market and tailor your plan to satisfy your audience

If you think of your product before your audience, you have your business plan backward. The market is the starting point for any business. You have to research your market well to know the opportunities and threats, and how best you can serve your target audience. You also have to consider your strength and weakness and do a proper analysis of each. After your research, you have to use the knowledge gotten to tailor your business plan to satisfy your audience. At this point, it is important to note that you cannot serve everyone in the market; only those who need your products are your audience and this is the section of the market you must focus on. The key facts and figures should remain the same, but develop different versions for different audiences. For instance, a potential investor will be looking at the feasibility of the opportunities you have identified, while a loan shark will be interesting in your ability to refund the loan.

Get the right software

You would need some productivity software that will come in handy when you are preparing a functional business plan. Such software will make it possible for you to specify in details what you intend to achieve and carry out certain calculations on capital needed and projected income. You could easily read reviews on CollectedReviews to know the right software you will need when creating a business plan. After downloading the software, you might need to get the key to be able to fully use the software. For this purpose, you can read about Key Mart to know if they are reliable and if they have the key for the software you need the key for.

Study your competitors and do not lose sight of the detail

Part of understanding your market is identifying all your competitors. You have to study them to know their weaknesses, strengths, their p[osition in the market, and consumers’ minds, the likely implications for your business, etc. Every business has competition; your plan should include a well-defined and workable strategy for dealing with the competition. Also, pay attention to detail. You should not beat around the bush in your business plan, but you should include enough information that makes your business plan easily understood. There should be no unclear ideas, facts, and figures in your business plan. Take care not to include assumptions, errors, spelling mistakes in your business as well. A glimpse at your plan should leave the reader in no doubt about your ability, passion, and professionalism.

Have proof and be conservative

A functional business plan has proof to back up every claim made. If you say that you will be the leader in your niche in the next six years, you have to state why you think so. If you claim that your product will take over the market, you have to present facts to support your claim. If you are so confident in your management team, be sure that your staff has the experience required. Additionally, you have to be conservative in your projections. Do not be extravagant about what you say. It is better to say something and surpass it by your actions than say something and perform poorly than expected. The latter will cause investors to lose faith in your business. if you are sure you will own 50% of the market in 12 months, you can project 10%, to appear more credible.

Be realistic

By now, you should know that time and resources are the greatest gifts any business could have. Do not wishfully think that things will happen faster because you have a huge investor or are working with a huge company. Being overly optimistic is an error that pulls the wool over your eyes; you will be matching on in error yet smiling. Being realistic lends more credibility to your business plan. It is advised that you assume that things will happen 15 percent later than you expect; therefore, 20 weeks is 23 weeks. Also, be logical in your business plan. It is good to have faith, but blind faith does not augur well for your business. You have to think like a banker.

Get a good knowledge of your financial information and prepare an excellent executive summary

In a business plan, the financial information will face the most scrutiny. Your cash flow has to be documented to the last detail, and your sales predictions need to be well-grounded. Both costs and sales must be included in your business plan. If you are not good with figures, seek assistance from an accountant or financial expert. Also, prepare a convincing executive summary, because it is arguably the most important part of your business. This is the part where more experienced readers read first to look for facts and figures. Your executive summary should encourage them to dig deeper into your business plan; if it does not, you have lost the battle. Condense your strategies into key points, provide headline figures, etc for a convincing executive summary. Make your executive summary impressive, but make it realistic.

Don’t leave out important information and seek the opinion of a business adviser

Everything, even if in a condensed form, must be covered in your business plan. Ensure your business plans contain your products, target audience, competitors, management team, development strategy and goals, financials, etc. if you miss out on important information, it will not reflect well on you. Before you tender your plan to others, seek the opinion of a business adviser. Give your business plan to someone who offers independent and constructive criticism. An accountant, an enterprise agency, etc will do. The review might prompt a better-written draft.

Discuss how to pay your investors

Your business plan must clearly outline the payout options for your investors. Investors want to know their roles in your company when they will get back their money and the rates. Some investors want to be part of the day-to-day running, some want to bring in associates to be on your board of directors, some want to be passive investors, some want to own your business, etc. The earlier you know your investor’s desires, the earlier you know if you want them to invest in your business or not and move on with serious, like-minded investors.