Here’s how we came up with our new Business plan writer.
1. Last year we offered to help people entering business competitions (and especially the Business Achievers Awards) who were struggling writing their entries. We ended up helping rewrite or writing from scratch over 40 business plans.
2. We realised that a lot of businesspeople find the writing of plans difficult.
3. As a result they write them badly.
4. They write about features rather than benefits.
5. They are so close to the business, they don’t understand the business model.
6. They can’t elucidate their distribution strategy.
7. They can’t explain the structures that are needed to be put in place to scale the business.
8. They are writing new plans every time for different funders/stakeholders.
9. The plans when finished didn’t look great because of struggles with formatting.
10. When we did successfully get under the bonnet of a business and as we teased out the plan, the business owners nearly had out of body experiences as they saw new angles and perspectives to overcome obstacles or to plot new strategies for growth.
11. We decided that we needed to put a template up on the site that would help users and guide them with headings and tips as they wrote their plans.
12. We went searching for a user-friendly template. We couldn’t find one that was suitable. They were too bulky; too complicated; too expensive and too many looked like bureaucrats designed them.
13. We decided to build our own. We built a prototype and made a case to get it funded by Ulster Bank.
14. The bank agreed and then things started to go horribly wrong: We set up a committee; of businesspeople, bankers, bureaucrats and b……let’s not go there!
15. All the committee members had views about what should be included in the Business Plan writer. To be fair all made strong cases for their inclusions.
16. But we were turning the cow into a camel.
17. We turned to the developers. Could we allow users pick and choose relevant sections of the business plan writer relevant to them?
18. It cost a few bob extra but yes we could.
19. So here it is.
20. It’s free.
21. It’s based in the cloud and users have their own versions with user names and passwords that the user sets up.
22. It has every conceivable section needed for a business plan. But the user chooses what’s relevant for him/her.
23. So its bespoked to the users unique needs. While still being a template!
24. As users write up the relevant sections, they’re given hints about what they should write.
25. Inputs are saved automatically.
26. The plan can be downloaded directly onto the users local machine in 2 formats. First in a pdf format which looks professional. Also in a word fomat which looks shocking but does give the user the ability to cut and paste paragraphs and sections for re use for say, filling in a CEB or EI or bank application form.
27. We have a version that will allow users cut and paste into the business plan writer but we’re arguing about releasing that. By writing into the Business Plan writer currently, users have to think about their businesses and as a result gain new perspectives.
28. We’ve also simplified the financials. Users can download empty spreadsheet templates directly from the writer onto their local machines and fill in the information locally. We’ve put in a set of spreadsheets that will allow a relatively good first stab at a set of management accounts that can be attached to the plan.
29. To be honest we like this Business Plan writer a lot and so far, of about 200 users, its had a lot more compliments that complaints (which is unusual for us).
30. We hope you like it too. If you need any help with it and writing your plan contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or look for general help on the forum.Signup to Business Plan Template