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 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 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
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.
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.
Purpose through a vision is the ultimate differentiator in business today.
If you want to know more, then read Simon Sinek’s book: Start With Why.
Your Purpose Archetype
A purpose archetype helps others relate to your Vision.
- The Protector – striving to protect something important
- The Liberator – shaking off the old to reinvent something better
- The Designer – empowered by the creation of revolutionary products and services
- The Guide – facilitating individual progress
- The Advocate – standing up for a specific tribe
- The Challenger – inspiring people to take transformative action
- The Unifier – motivating people to join a movement
- The Master – a mission to change lives and improve the world
The Oxfam example above would fit into “the Master”.
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.
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.
Your Mission defines your approach to carrying out your vision.
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
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.
Core Values define your business’ substance through behaviour and need to be defined as VERBS – because they are actions carried out.
List your core values so that your conduct will befit your vision and mission.
Goals and Tactics
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.
Your goals and tactics set up your short and long-term ‘to-do list’ to achieve success.
GOAL (#): To achieve $1 Million in revenue.
- Specific: From Jan to Dec, the revenue earned will total $1,000,000.
- Measurable: 12 months to earn $1,000,000 (or $83,400 per month)
- Attainable: Yes, this is a stretch goal from last year’s goal of $800,000 revenue
- Relevant: Yes, given that we are launching a new product and it matches our trajectory.
- Time-Based: 12 months, from 1 Jan to 31 Dec
- – Tactic 1
- – Tactic 2
- – Tactic 3
I’m amazed at how often businesses fail to even look at what makes them special, and what can potentially cripple their business!
Only once you conduct a SWOT analysis will you understand your business’ current situation and how to move forward towards where you want to be.
- capitalise on strengths
- protect again weaknesses
- take advantage of opportunities and
- manage threats.
Do NOT underestimate this step.
Your Customer Personas
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.
Do you actually know your customer? Like… really know them?
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
- Their background: Female, working mum.
- Defining demographics: potentially any age, but generally 35+
- Key identifiers: anxious purchaser due to previous bad reactions to skincare products
- Their goals: find something that works but doesn’t irritate the skin
- Their challenges: has had bad experiences with skincare due to bad reactions
- What we can do: reassure before purchase, offer extra support and proof
- What they say: “Is my skin going to react to this?” “No reaction? That’s what they all say!”
- Common objections: Concern that this another product that will waste their money
- Our Marketing Message to them: Natural, sincere. Provide case studies and money-back guarantee
- The Elevator Pitch: get the skincare your sensitive skin deserves.
Your Marketing Approach
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.”
Your Marketing Approach is how you will build your Marketing and Sales efforts around your business plan.
- What is your market position? How do you want customers to see your brand?
- How we will effectively communicate with our audience using quality copywriting and content marketing?
- Unique selling position: what customer-relevant benefits make your brand unique?
- Why is this valuable to your customer?
- Pricing Strategy: how will you price your products/services accordingly?
- Core proposition – fill in the blanks: We offer a (product/service description) that helps (customer persona) do a (benefit action) by a (unique product/service feature).
- What’s our marketplace identity? What’s the “who” behind our “why” that will interest our audience?
- Why can’t our customers live without our solution?
- When and how will our customers notice the results?
- Why is what we do better for them than other alternatives?
- What social proof do we provide that adds substance to our brand?
- What would tip our customers over to conversion after they have all of the information?
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.
The worst business plan is one that’s never seen again. The best is one that sets direction and then is updated as the year goes on.
Now – you have a clear, meaningful business plan
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?
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