Business Plan Preparation Tips

The following is a list of business plan writing tips which can be key to the success of your business plan. Check back often as this list will be growing regularly.

Category The Tip
Feasibility Assessment Use the POCD Framework: People, Opportunity, Context, Deal; all components are interrelated and all four areas need to be strong in order for the proposed venture to be deemed poised for success.
Market Size Don't say 'we can capture 1% of market X for sure'. You need to qualify the market (e.g. tech savvy, cheap, reachable, loyalty factors) and justify why you believe you can capture a certain percentage (e.g. based on current satisfaction levels and position on the adoption curve, but also considering customer loyalty, switching costs, etc.)
Market Segmentation Your target market segment should first and foremost be significant in population, profitable, and reachable. You should possess special capabilities to create value for them, and it would be optimal if your competitors have not yet targetted this segment (at least not too many of them!)
Strategy At the highest level, your core corporate strategy will be one of the following: Differentiation, Cost Leadership, or Focus Strategy
Strategy - Differentiation When differentiating yourself from competitors, conduct research to see what are the needs and purchase criteria of customers and non-customers and capitalize on those. Common purchase criteria include: Quality, price, speed of delivery, convenience, the experience, and customizability/personalization/flexibility
Marketing - Product Innovation is a huge driver of sales and competitive advantage. A great source of innovation is to be inspired by ideas from other industries - e.g. Banks learned from Tim Horton's TV screens hanging behind cashiers/tellers.
Marketing - Place When selecting the site and location of your business, consider the following factors: location of competitors; proximity to target market, labour force, and suppliersl and access to highways and ease of transportation.
Financial Projections Tie revenue to projections of number of customers and number of units sold per month; justify projections for # units sold and enlist your assumptions.


Business Startup Planning Links and Resources

The following are links to useful documents around the web with valuable tips on building a business.

Category Icon Description
Business Model WePopp Wants To Cut Down On The Back And Forth When Planning Nights Out With Friends
Business Model where app is free and revenues are from affiliate programs with partners
http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/03/wepopp/
Business Planning Restaurant Business Plan - Overview
A 9-minute summary of the sections and ideas that need to be covered in a typical restaurant business plan
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhetW0-grpI
Business Planning SWOT Analysis
Great template and explanation with examples of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for businesses
https://depts.washington.edu/oei/resources/toolsTemplates/SWOT_analysis.pdf
Business Planning How to Write a Great Business Plan - Harvard Business Review
An in-depth examination of the POCD (People-Opportunity-Context-Deal) model
http://hbr.org/1997/07/how-to-write-a-great-business-plan
Exit Strategy Selling Your Business: The Trick To Finding The Perfect Buyer
Discusses the 3 classes of buyers: Strategic, Financial, and Operator Buyers
https://www.openforum.com/articles/selling-your-business-the-trick-to-finding-the-perfect-buyer/?extlink=of-syndication-sb-p
Financial Projections Marketing Budget
This is a great guide by the US Small Business Administration on how to set marketing budgets for a new small business. The huristics are equally applicable in Canada.
https://www.sba.gov/blogs/how-set-marketing-budget-fits-your-business-goals-and-provides-high-return-investment
Financial Projections Cost of AdWords Online Advertising
Succint article explaining how Google AdWords works and how much it costs. E.g. it mentions that the average cost per click is between $1 and $2; and that the average small business using AdWords spends between $9,000 and $10,000 per month on it.
www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2015/05/21/how-much-does-adwords-cost
Financial Projections Cost of Radio Advertising
This article can serve as a great guide for estimating radio advertising expenses when preparing a business plan for a local small business. It also helps find and negotiate good deals when purchasing such advertising.
http://www.fitsmallbusiness.com/radio-advertising-costs/
Funding Leadership Grants (Canada)
Non for profit that issues grants of up to $100,000 to small business owners and entrepreneurs in Canada
http://www.leadershipgrants.ca
Innovation Technologies that are Revolutionalizing Industries
VIC2RY Consulting's Facebook page where we post information about new and emerging technologies that are transforming entire industries.
https://www.facebook.com/VIC2RY_Consulting-1426578854220357/timeline/
Innovation How Cooking Lunch Can Be a Business Model Innovation
This article shows a good way to attract and maintain talent
http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2013/05/06/how-cooking-lunch-can-be-a-business-model-innovation/#sthash.uvgd5vzE.dpuf
Market Research Market Research That's Specific to the Specialty Food Business
This article provides a great example of how to conduct market research when preparing a business plan. While it focuses on the Specialty Food business, the techniques used can be applied to gain valuable insights into other industries as well.
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254693
Market Sizing Total Available Market (TAM)
Youtube video by Tony Seba from his course at Stanford: "Strategic Marketing of High Tech and Clean Tech"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TgVjdxAcf4
Online Marketing 20 Ways To Drive More Traffic To Your Blog
This webpage is full of practical, actionable advice
https://www.openforum.com/articles/20-ways-to-drive-more-traffic-to-your-blog/?extlink=of-syndication-sb-p
Opportunity Assessment BDC's Analysis and Research Reports on SMEs
BDC shares a series of research and unique reports offering insightful knowledge of the SME sector.
http://www.bdc.ca/EN/about/sme_research/Pages/default.aspx
Opportunity Assessment Evaluating New Venture Opportunities
Conversations with Venture Capitalists from the Harvard Business School
http://www.hbs.edu/entrepreneurship/newbusiness/2004fall_1.html
Performance Measurement Measuring Supply Chain Performance
This report, prepared by USAID (for public health managers) provides a comprehensive list of KPI's (key performance indicators) which apply to most industries. When preparing a business plan it helps to prepare a list of applicable KPI's.
http://deliver.jsi.com/dlvr_content/resources/allpubs/guidelines/MeasSCPerf.pdf
Pitching Pitching to Angels
Great notes on how to pitch to angle investors and present business plan to them
http://www.cmu.edu/olympus/events/start-smart/pitching-to-angels-cmu-11-2012-1.pptx
Strategy Strategy 101 - Session 4: Competitive Analysis
Excellent short video on competitive analysis and strategy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsjRlSYGh7I
Strategy - Differentiation Tips on How to Differentiate Your Business
In this article you will read tips on how accounting firms would be able to differentiate their services. This serves as a great general article as tax preparation is a field that is preceived to be boring and difficult to generate interest in.
http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/news/12144785/5-ways-to-differentiate-your-firm-from-the-pack-this-tax-season
Strategy - Differentiation Want more business? Differentiate your offering.
Great article that emphasizes the importance of differentiation and fully communicating it to the consumers. The author uses the example of cruises in the Dominican Republic that specialize in 'Whale Watching' to get his points across.
http://www.collisionrepairmag.com/news/features/16552-blog-want-more-business-differentiate-your-offering