The ‘business plan’ is a controversial topic.
Some say you need it to plan your direction to be successful. Others say it’s a waste of time. Some start one and never finish while others write it up and never look at it again (which is as good as having no business plan at all).
It’s true that a goal without a plan is just a dream.
But there are so many business plan templates that go on for days and don’t really help – they are a waste of time! So, in keeping with Melotti Media’s purpose of providing value, here’s how to write a business plan for this year that will actually be worth doing (as well as a free template download).
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a written, living blueprint that outlines your business’ WHY, HOW, WHAT and WHO. It offers your organisation guidance and clarity through an agreed direction that everyone works towards together.
A business plan can be quite long, but the reality is – in order to be effective and worth the paper it's printed on, it needs to be short, sharp and succinct. That way, your team will keep referring back to it and updating it along the way.
Why write a business plan?
A business plan provides direction and purpose by uniting a business towards a common and well-established set of goals.
A business plan is designed to ensure that your organisation grows successfully through strategy, rather than guesswork or ‘winging it’.
The problem with a business plan is that most people don’t know where to start or what to write (I was there myself!) – as a result, a business plan seems like a pointless project. However, through my hours of research trawling through business plan templates, blogs and guides, I’ve distilled the essence of a business plan into something that will actually work for most if not all organisations.
Here’s my guide to the best business plan.
Start with a Title Page
Yes, I’m making this actually a part of your business plan.
Put your logo proudly on the front, as well as your business name and the words “BUSINESS PLAN”. This way, it’s easily recognisable by everyone in your business who should be reading it throughout the year.
Write your purpose in one sentence here.
This is absolutely crucial because it’s your organisation’s “why”. For example, Oxfam’s vision is a world without poverty. Everything they do revolves around this. Apple’s original vision that made them so great was: we exist to challenge the status quo.
At Melotti Media, our Vision is: evolving marketing practise by providing superior, relevant value through words.
A Vision provides a compass that customers and employees are inspired by. If you haven’t established your business’ why – now is definitely the time.
Your Vision will guide everything your business does and unite your efforts by harnessing an underlying purpose. After all, people don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it.
If you want to know more, then read Simon Sinek’s book: Start With Why.
Your Purpose Archetype
After you’ve defined your vision, it helps to give it a tangible symbol; something that can manifest your vision into something relatable.
There are generally 8 purpose archetypes, as defined by Stan Phelps. Choose which one your Vision best relates to and put this in your business plan so that it helps solidify your business’ purpose for you, your teams and everyone else.
Melotti Media’s archetype is “the Liberator”, because we provide copywriting services to create content that really matters to brands and their audiences alike.
Write your purpose archetype to give your Vision some tangibility.
After you’ve established your “why”, it’s now time to define your “how” through your mission.
In your mission, you should have an overarching method of how you and your business intend to achieve your vision. It’s not about the nitty-gritty; your mission statement is how you plan to dedicate your business’ operations and energy to bringing your vision into reality.
At Melotti Media, our purpose is to be the enablers of better-quality communication between businesses and their audiences for the benefit of everyone.
To do this, we continuously strive to be a highly reputable, trusted and profitable copywriting and marketing agency business, providing reliable, comprehensive and top-quality copywriting and marketing services which meet (or exceed) client and audience expectations.
What’s your mission? Write that here.
Your Core Values
Right! Now it’s time to list out the behaviours that are important to you and your business as you carry out your mission and vision.
The mistake businesses make here is they define core values as nouns! “Honesty”. “Dependable.” And so on.
These can’t be put into practise by you and your team because they’re nouns. Instead, define your core values as VERBS. Core values need to be actionable.
Some of our Core Values at Melotti Media are just that – “Build genuine relationships and long-lasting partnerships through care and integrity” and “lead by example with quality content.” These are behaviours that people can actively perform.
List your core values so that your conduct will befit your vision and mission.
Goals and Tactics
At this point in your business plan, you want to be defining your objectives and actions that will be carried out in the short and long-term to push your business further along the journey towards success.
Each GOAL should be a SMART goal, followed by how you plan to implement each. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based.
Don’t get too complicated here. While you may have 2 or many goals, make them short and sharp. Here’s an example.
GOAL (#): To achieve $1 Million in revenue.
Yes, it’s an oldie but a goodie!
I’m amazed at how often businesses fail to even look at what makes them special, and what can potentially cripple their business!
Sit down with your team and determine what your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are. Then, once you know them, you can:
Do NOT underestimate this step.
Your Customer Personas
Any business knows that you live and die by your ability to recognise your customer’s needs and offer them a relevant solution that inspires them to act.
The issue is, most businesses THINK they know their customer… but they really don’t. This means you’re not able to relate to them because you don’t understand what motivates them.
HubSpot’s persona tool is the best way to solve this.
Take the time to identify all the different types of people you target using the following template – and then, more importantly, decide who you will focus on and who you won’t. This will make a phenomenal difference to your business’ core messaging.
PERSONA NAME: Sensitive-Skin Sally
Your Marketing Approach
Ok! It’s time to develop your Marketing Plan around everything that has come before.
By doing it in this order, you’ve created a Marketing strategy that is seated in actual business visions, goals and objectives, rather than just “winging it.”
Here are the questions you need to answer here.
Sure – there are many different ways to approach a Marketing plan. But these sharp, precise questions are sufficient to give you and your team the best direction to keep your marketing on track and effective.
Last but CERTAINLY not least – when will you review the above after it’s all been put into action?
How often will you manage, control and make changes? This is more like a commitment. Should it be every quarter? Every month?
Then define what actions you will take accordingly.
Now – you have a clear, meaningful business plan
While the above may seem long, it’s not really when you put it together.
It’s the essential factors you need to answer to align your goals and objectives with your efforts, both this year and for many years to come.
What did I miss? Are there any areas you would remove or add? Let me know!
How Can Melotti Media Copywriting Help You?
To engage your customer and achieve ongoing business success today, you need quality copywriting and consistent content. However, we understand that this is easier said than done.
You’re time poor and spread thin, and writing isn’t your expertise. So, focus on what really matters, while we take care of all of your copywriting and content marketing needs!
For more information or to speak to a quality copywriter to get the results your business deserves, contact me now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can sharpen your words to achieve your goals, today!
Melotti Media Copywriting and Message Marketing Bureau
DISCLAIMER: This blog expresses the opinion of Christopher Melotti (Melotti Media) and should be taken as general information only. No responsibility is taken for your actions in response to any content in this blog. See the website's Terms and Conditions for more information.