this is the follow on article from 11 sections to the perfect business plan – part 1 where I describe these sections in detail; branding, customer & marketing, operations & management.
across the 3 articles I cover the following key business plan sections:
- executive summary (part 1)
- industry (part 1)
- market (part 1)
- product/service (part 1)
- branding (part 2)
- customer & marketing (part 2)
- operations (part 2)
- management (part 2)
- business strategy (part 3)
- finances (part 3)
- risks (part 3)
branding is a very important topic in the overall longevity of a business. for the purposes of a business plan, I would concentrate on what sort of competitive advantage you have over the competition or how you’ve already built up brand loyalty. building a brand is an expensive business and can take a long time depending on the industry you are in. you should refer to it as it certainly counts for something, well a lot actually – just look at Evian!
key points to include in your branding section:
- discuss intellectual property protection
- have you already built up brand loyalty?
- do you need to invest in branding – how are you determining the value of the brand?
Customer & marketing
marketing often goes hand in hand with growth. I say often as not all businesses need to focus on marketing to drive growth. if you’re a tech business though, this will likely be a large section of your plan you will want to concentrate on. you should demonstrate which forms of customer acquisition have provided the highest return on investment. you will want to be all over your customer and marketing metrics (see my separate blog on 9 metrics to excite potential investors).
key points to include in your customer & marketing section:
- describe the marketing activities you’ve experimented with and show success rates
- identify the ones that work best and how you intend to apply this experience to grow the business
- include demographic breakdown of costs of acquiring customers
- consider calculating cac:ltv (see 9 metrics to excite potential investors for more information)
- include other relevant metrics for your industry
- outline your future marketing approach and assuming you are spending some of the investment on customer acquisition, exactly what this looks like
in this section you must describe the production process or the process for providing your service. it is imperative to set out any production capacity constraints or limiting factors in providing your service, such as staff numbers or office size or location. describe how without these limiting factors in place you may also be able to grow. this may be part and parcel of your investment needs, but again it weaves the business plan together.
are there any other critical factors in your operations that need to be taken into account. for example, are there language skills or competency expertise (i.e. technology) which are key to operations?
key points to include in your operations section:
- describe the production, development or service process
- are there any key factors which determine success?
- what does the supply chain look like or are you dependant on employees with key skills
- are there any processes that give you a competitive advantage?
- evaluate your facilities and fixed assets – do you need to move as part of your growth?
as mentioned above, investors may technically invest in the company but they actually invest in management. they back people and they back their ability, or perceived ability to make it happen and to earn them a reward for investing. as such, a cohesive, aligned management team is one of the things that will be under the microscope. investors will ask themselves, will these people make it happen? in this section it’s your job to convince an investor that yes, you will make it happen!
and please don’t play down your experience in this area, if you’ve built up and sold a previous business then this is very relevant! don’t be shy about it, because if you don’t put it in front of an investors face, no one else will!
the next time you will be assessed as a management team is in the pitch itself – something for another time, but how do you demonstrate enough to give investors that warm fuzzy feeling to part with their money? well, everyone is different and different investors look for different things but you should demonstrate past achievements as these speak for themselves. it’s all very good to include job titles and descriptions but you need to convey what you’ve done in the past, individually and together and what successes you have had in the past. they want to see you have dealt with difficult situations and delivered what you’ve promised. the past is in the past, but it’s the best determinant to assess your capabilities in the future. of course, your achievements need to be relevant to your business plan, no point in including your scouting badge on how to put up a tent!
each and every person in the management team should be bringing something unique and indispensable to the party.
key points to include in your management section:
- identify key personnel and their past achievements
- is there a good balance of skills in the organisation to meet the strategic objectives?
- describe the role of any outside support i.e. non-executive directors, mentors etc.
in 11 sections to the perfect business plan – part 3, I will finish off with business strategy, finances, and risks.
thanks for reading – if you have any comments or questions on the above, or are interested in talking to us, please get in touch.