How to develop a strategic business plan for a new venture
by Jenny Bowes | Jul 01, 2021
A key aspect of launching any new business venture is planning – but truthfully, many would-be entrepreneurs aren’t sure where to start.
Business planning has had a revamp in recent years. The old business plan has undergone a massive makeover that reflects the contemporary pace of modern business. Now, your forecasts and proposals can be much more sophisticated and yield better results. When the OKR method is included in this process, you’ll have all the tools you need to get your new business venture off to a strong start.
So, how can you put a strategic business plan in place for a new venture, and where’s the best place to begin? We answer this question in this article.
What is a strategic business plan?
A strategic business plan goes a few steps further than a traditional business plan. Business planning previously focused mainly on numbers. However, a strategic business plan takes a holistic approach, encompassing business values, vision and a variety of goals concerning your business’ philosophy, ethos and methodology.
It also focuses on how best to use and optimise your existing resources in a controlled manner. It’s essential to account for incremental growth so that you don’t exhaust your current resources too quickly. Of course, when setting up a new business venture you don’t have previous data to work from – so a strategic business plan will use industry insights and competitor analysis to shape your organisational objectives.
Why use a strategic business plan for a new venture?
New business ventures are exciting. They leave you buzzing with the prospect of fresh opportunities approached with abundant enthusiasm. It’s easy to get lost within all the excitement that comes along with starting a new business, but getting down to the nitty-gritty is even more important for fledgling companies. That’s where strategic business planning comes in.
This will help you to streamline your business planning process so that you boost your chances of long-term success. We’ve covered some of the other main benefits below…
How can strategic business planning benefit your new venture?
Focus is key when starting any new venture. Without a clear idea of where you’re headed and how you’re getting there, you’ll likely hit some bumps in the road. Many business owners also cite time management as one of their key challenges. Overwhelm can lead to a scattergun approach, which in turn, impairs productivity. If you can clearly see where you need to focus your time, money and efforts at each stage, you can be confident that nothing is being overlooked as you progress.
- Proactivity over reactivity
When you anticipate the good and the bad, you’ll be prepared for whatever life throws at you. Business can be unpredictable and external influences are not always under your control. However, forward planning for unexpected events enables you to prepare for any unfavourable scenarios before they occur. This allows you to act accordingly and minimise any negative impact. The same can be said for positive, yet unanticipated occurrences such as a steep rise in sales.
Creating a strategic business plan puts you one step ahead of the game and significantly increases your chances of success!
- Increased efficiency
Streamlining is key for new ventures. Many new businesses waste a significant portion of their resources during their first few years, simply because they’re unable to adequately manage them. Operational efficiency is key for any new business especially as it grows and evolves.
- Improved resilience
Markets change and events occur that are not within your control – take Covid, for instance. But, with strategic business planning, you can increase your long-term resilience by building a more adaptable and flexible organisation.
Things to consider during the strategic business planning process
Strategic business plans are comprehensive and incorporate multiple elements. Therefore, you’ll need to gather some information and consider various different aspects of your business (both now and how you want it to look in the future) before you begin.
To start with, consider the following elements:
Your vision and values: Who are you, what do you do and most importantly, why? What makes you different? What do you stand for?
Your industry and competitors: Who else is doing what you do, and how do they do it? What’s their market share – and what should yours be? How are you contributing to, or evolving your industry?
Your clients and customers: What does your ideal client or customer look like? Who are they, what do they do? Creating an avatar for your ideal customer can be useful especially for marketing and branding going forward. Go into detail about their salary, lifestyle, likes and dislikes and what other companies (both competitor and non-competitor) they engage with.
Your products and services: What exactly do you offer? List absolutely everything with a detailed description.
Outlining the above provides a firm foundation for starting the strategic business planning process.
How to make a strategic business plan
There’s no one size fits all approach to the strategic business planning process. Each industry and company is entirely different, so of course, their plans will be unique too! Using a sample strategic business plan could help to guide you through the process, especially if it’s your first time setting up a new business.
You might like to start by sitting everyone down and talking about your business. Verbally communicating what you do and how you do it without the pressure of documenting things formally can allow you to be really open and creative. Doing this with your team will also enable you to gain a variety of insights and perspectives. It can relieve that stagnant feeling that can come with strategic business planning, as you simply talk it out and discuss your company candidly in a safe setting.
In addition, competitor and target market research will be a key element for any new venture – as you’re not working with your own existing data. If you’re looking to disrupt the market you’re in, you’ll be using these insights in reverse.
Once you’ve gathered plenty of notes from your brainstorming session, begin bit by bit to fill in each section of your strategic business plan. Think of this as your first draft – it’ll go through several refinements during this process until you have something solid to work from.
If you’re still struggling to get it right, don’t worry. Getting expert support from strategic planning specialists may be the best way to go.
At There Be Giants we help organisations to execute their strategic plans by using OKRs . The OKR process and strategic planning process go hand in hand. Using both methods can help to boost your chances of achieving sustained business growth.
If you want to learn more about executing your strategic plans, speak to one of our Giants today to learn more about how we can help you.
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The 7 Best Business Plan Examples
So you want to start a business . Kudos! You’re doing big things.
One of the first steps to building a strong foundation for your new venture is to write a rock-solid business plan . When done right, your business plan can pave your path to success, all while helping you to smoothly cruise through any obstacles that may come up.
Plus, a good business plan can help you secure critical partnerships and funding that you might need in your early stages.
If you’re unsure how to write one, a great place to start is to learn from the pros. In this article, we’ll look at companies that built incredible business plans.
Take notes on the structure, format, and details. Hopefully you’ll leave with plenty of inspiration to write your own.
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7-part template for business plan examples
We’ll look at a business plan that is structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick review of those parts:
- Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
- Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
- Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
- Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
- Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
- Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
- Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, here’s the place to discuss your request and needs.
7 business plan examples (section by section)
In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together.
- Executive summary
Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information.
In ThoughtCo’s sample business plan for a fictional company called Acme Management Technology, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:
- Company description
You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:
- Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
- Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market.
- Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
- Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
- Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.
You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan.
- Market analysis
Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis we did for a hypothetical ecommerce business:
You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component for your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition.
- Products and services
This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here —a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.
- Marketing plan
Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. As such, it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt.
Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing.
Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:
Logistics and operations
This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, production, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.
The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state. For example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.
It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:
- Funding needs
- Project cash-flow statement
- Project profit-and-loss statement
- Projected balance sheet
You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet.
Types of business plan (and what to write for each)
A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized.
- Logistics and operations plan
A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea —market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points.
- Market research: in depth
- Financials: in depth
Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal.
- Market research
A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan.
Mix and match to make a killer business plan
The good news is: there’s no single right way to write a business plan. If you’re feeling unsure about how to craft yours, pull bits and pieces that you like from other examples, and leave out the parts that don’t apply or make sense for you.
The important thing is to clearly communicate your reason for starting the company, what’s needed to operate it, and how you plan to make it work in the long run.
When you can convince others that you have a killer game plan, you’ve nailed it.
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