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There are endless articles, guides and websites dedicated to advising entrepreneurs on how to write a solid business plan. But we wanted to hear some real advice first hand, from the people who know it best – the entrepreneurs themselves. We sat down to talk with several young start-ups to gain unique insight into the do’s and don’ts of writing a business plan. Here's what what we learned from writing business plans from current start-ups.
By Rebecca Griffiths - Monday, 27 August 2012

DO… 

...be aware of the gap!

Generally, ideas for new businesses are created because entrepreneurs have noticed gaps in the market that have not been filled. As your business plan develops, the concept will also evolve. For this reason, it is important to return to the question – what is the gap and are we filling it?

...know your audience..

A good tip for writing your plan is to make sure that it can be understood by all – especially by those who have no previous knowledge or experience with your product or segment. This forces you write clearly, precisely and with minimal technical jargon. However, at some point you will be forced to present your business plan to an investor or seed funder. You should have an additional version of your plan that has less text and explanation with more financial calculations and economic evidence.

...find the right format.

Most entrepreneurs search online for a business plan template to use – rather than creating their own. Although this can be a timesaving solution, be careful not to leave out important chapters or explanations simply because the template didn’t include it. Your product is unique, and your business plan should be too. Be aware of what you want to communicate and what information is essential to convince investors and funders that your project is interesting.

 ...be flexible.

Throughout the development of your business plan, the information you gather through research and brainstorming will highlight problem areas or opportunities you may not have realized. You should always consider how to refine your product so your concept remains relevant. Don’t become too rigid at the beginning and retain the flexibility to adapt. 

At the end of the day, it all comes down to believing in yourself and in your product. If you put in work, then success is sure to follow.

DON’T…

be too slow!

It’s often the case that you have a great idea, but you sit on it for a while before writing it all down. As soon as you have the idea, start building a business brainstorm – try using the Business Model Canvas on Canvaniser. Once you have formulated the concept, start writing the business plan. The longer you wait, the less motivation you have and the more likely you are to drop the project.

focus too much on the goal.

If you are only concerned about the end goal, the process of getting there might overwhelm you. The team at Kalimbo Management (a young Berlin-based start-up) mentions that although their team would take meaningful steps forward, sometimes they would fall several steps back. Writing a business plan is a grueling process, but if you divide your work up into manageable tasks, you can start to see real progress.

... ignore feedback.

Before presenting your business plan to investors, show your plan to your friends and family. Take into consideration their comments, complaints and ideas, as they can be extremely valuable. Often when you have worked so intensely on a project, you lose overview. Discussing ideas with your peers is a great way to edit your business plan.

 ... expect too much.

Most people become frustrated because they set their expectations too high, and end up disappointed. Understand that starting a company is a difficult process, but it can also be very rewarding. Although writing a business plan might not be the most entertaining part of starting a business, it is an important part of finding funding. Be realistic about your product and make sure the evidence you gather is convincing – not just for the investors, but for yourself!

Words of advice

Florian Schemnitzer, product manager for Kalimbo Management, told us that “if you are able, just start, don’t be too scientific about it”. If you have a great idea, don’t wait too long before writing your business plan, you have nothing to lose!

Kalimbo will be an easy to use web application for event planning. Kalimbo’s tool will allow bands and musicians to have access to all the features they need for calendaring, check listing and team management – all in one smart application. Stay tuned for more developments!

Resources

Here is a list of excellent resources to help you write your business plan as well as inspirational articles for entrepreneurs at all stages of starting a business.

Entrepreneur.com

Bplans.com

Wired.co.uk 

ssfCoworking Statistics

Startpage