A Guide to Writing a Business

Undoubtedly, putting together and implementing a proper business plan is one of the most important aspects of starting a new business. By doing this, you will be able to easily set targets and goals, formulate and implement ideals, verify realistic and functioning approaches to the business, and push towards the long-term success of your particular business.

This essential tool works to attract the startup funding for your business. The document needs to be dynamic, jumping off the page at potential investors.The document also needs to be reviewed and monitored regularly to measure the overall performance of the business.

This guide will explain various aspects of what your business plan should include and how you should formulate one for yourself. Various strategies laid out in this guide will be vital to the proper formulation and implementation of a business plan. This is aimed directly at startup businesses in need of fundraising, but the message is valid to all businesses.

Benefits of a Well Formulated Business Plan
This business plan is primarily for your business partners. Some of the things it can help you to do include: Bringing research and ideas together into a well-structured, professional format

# Deciding when and/or if your business is commercially viable

# Clarifying your businesses goals and communicating this to staff and business partners

# Predicting future business scenarios and potential pitfalls in order to address them before they threaten your business’ success

# Laying out a strategy for your business

# Setting different objectives and targets, which include financial targets

# Enabling you to watch your business’ performance carefully and regularly

The Best Way to Approach the Plan
It is essential that any investor understands your business’ agenda if the purpose of the plan is to ask an investor’s financial support. Any and all investors need to be ensured that your business will profit, therefore, a good business plan will clearly list your objectives.Read any published literature from a body you are approaching so that it is easy to identify objectives, thus making it easy to demonstrate how you will meet them in the business plan.

For instance, if you’re reaching out for a grant or loan, it’s important that you understand where your business fits into the financing. Your plan should illustrate to funders how you plan to start and operate a profitable business. It is also essential that your plan stand out above the rest of the mundane plans out there. You need to be comprehensive, concise, and complete in your plan, without making contradictions. You need to always check that any figures you include in the plan add up.

Any irregularities will leave potential investors fleeing your business. Your plan needs to be credible.Identify what your audience wants to know about your business. It is important to be honest in this aspect of business planning. Make sure you include details such as why your business is located in a particular area, why you’re targeting a certain audience, etc. These plans need to be as realistic as possible and convince investors that your business is worth their dime. Make sure you provide a way to back up any claims you’re making.

The Perfect Business Requirements Document

A Business Requirements Document is a formal document that effectively provides a contract between a “supplier” and a “client”. The “client” is typically a business department and the “supplier” is the company or other business department that will create and deliver the new product, system or process. The document describes in detail every business need and is written in response to a known business problem or shortcoming. The Business Requirements Document is not expected to describe in detail the solution to the business needs but to describe what the business wants and needs. For technical products, such as new or modified software systems, further technical specifications will be prepared.

Various techniques, such as brainstorming, story boarding, use cases and interviews, will have been used to gather the requirements during a business requirements analysis process. That information needs to be written down in a clear, concise format in language familiar to the business users. The process of documenting and refining the business requirements helps to identify conflicting requirements and potential issues early on in the project lifecycle. It is the key document in the effective project management of any type of project.

The business requirements document effectively defines the Scope of a project. This is the description of what will be included in the project and also what is specifically excluded from the project.

Scope is a definition of the limits or boundaries of a project and the reason it is so important is because poor management of the project scope is one of the major causes of project failure. Good management of the project scope by the project manager involves 3 key factors:

devote adequate time to fully defining the requirements
reach a formal agreement on the scope with the stakeholders
avoid scope creep

Scope Creep

Scope creep is when un-authorised or un-budgeted tasks lead to uncontrolled alterations to the documented requirements during the course of the project. The business requirements document should address the possibility of requests for additional tasks in a project and state how they will be dealt with. This usually involves a formal Change Request Procedure that requires the agreement of all stakeholders to any changes of specification, budget or delivery time. The fact that the business requirements document is a formally approved document assists the project manager in implementing and sticking to a Change Request Procedure.

There is, of course, a tendency for changes to be requested during the life of a project. As projects progress, the end-users inevitably see areas where additional features could provide increased benefits. And the purpose of scope management is not to prevent such changes either being requested or implemented, but to ensure that all changes bring substantial, well-defined benefits. And that the budget will be increased accordingly and that the extended duration of the project is acceptable to all parties involved. Failure on the part of the project manager to manage scope adequately undermines the viability of the whole project as approved in the Business Requirements Document.

All changes to the requirements, budget and schedule must be approved by all stakeholders. In large projects it is common for end-users to see their opportunity to have all the “nice-to-have” elements added while major changes are underway – to some extent this is understandable but only if the new features add real business value such as efficiency or accountability and do not require the project to change in such a way as to lose sight of the original business needs that instigated the project in the first place

Document Iterations

A business requirements document is likely to need several iterations before it is close to reaching a document acceptable to all stakeholders. Writing such a document can be a complex and intricate process and will probably need many more iterations before approval is actually achieved. This is no reflection on the thoroughness of the analysis process but rather on the simple human difficulty in translating thoughts and speech into clear, unambiguous and thorough wording on the page. Whilst adequate detail is required to fully define the requirements, conversely, too much detail prevents the readers from absorbing the key points. Writing a document that achieves this balance is a skill in itself.

Fortunately, there are a number of best practice approaches and industry standards that can be used to good effect when writing a business requirements document.These will assist in defining the project scope and managing scope creep once the project is underway.

Key Document Elements

Whether the author of the business requirements is the business analyst or the project manager, they should have an understanding of the different levels of requirements and the different elements within the requirements. They must be able to state the business needs clearly, understand the current business process and the key business objectives driving the project.

The following list, whilst not exhaustive, covers the main areas that should be documented in a business requirements document:

Business Problem Statement
Current Business Process
Scope Statement(s)
Key Business Objectives
Project Completion Criteria
Limitations
Risks
Assumptions
Functional Requirements
Non-Functional Requirements
Features and Functions
Reporting Requirements
Delivery Method
New/Modified Business Process
Data Retention/Archiving
Training
Stakeholder List
Quality Measures
Checklists (Process and Requirements)

Ensuring each of these elements is incorporated in to the document with sufficient detail and clarity is the first step to creating a perfect business requirements document. Techniques for writing effective business requirements are covered on both general project management training courses and on specific business requirements courses.

Guide to Writing a Business Plan

Aspects to Include in the Business Plan

Obviously, every business is a bit different, thus every business plan will be different. However, there are certain aspects that do not change with business plans – certain steps that remain the same no matter what “type” of business you’re starting. The first set-in-stone standard of a business plan is the “Executive Summary.” In this section, you will briefly illustrate what your plan entails in no more than two pages. This is the “jump of the page” part of the business plan that most investors find either the selling point of the turning away aspect of your plan. There are four essential sections in the executive summary that investors are looking for:

1. What makes your business idea unique and original and gives you a leg up over similar businesses.
2. What level of experience do you and your team/staff bring to the table? Also, what sort of dealings have you had with your target audience, and how do you expect to make your business succeed.
3. Have you illustrated how your business will do financially, and will or won’t your business be viable for investors involved.
4. When and how will investors receive repayment, and/or when can the investor exit with a nice return on their initial investment.

The executive summary should also include: Details of the business/owners names and addresses; Product and service details, as well as customer (niche) details; Target market and competition summary; Amount of money invested by you; and the amount of money sought after by you from investors.

After the executive summary, you need to formulate a “Table of Contents.” This will list the main sections and page numbers in your business plan. Basically, this makes it easier to find the details investors seek throughout the text. This may seem trivial, but an accurate and well-written TOC is important in a business plan.

After the TOC, a business plan needs an “Objectives, Aims, and Vision” section to illustrate your reason for starting the business and where you expect your business to go in the future. You also need to illustrate what your goals will be if and when the business is successful. It is important for investors to know whether you’re starting the business for an investment and then planning to flee with your earnings, or if you’re going to keep a business for a prolonged duration. Try to visualize where you want your business to go, and carefully implement your objectives, aims and vision into your business plan. Make it creative, exciting, and always as well-written as possible.

The next aspect your business plan needs to include is the “Business Description and Purpose” section. This will describe exactly what it is your business does. With this section, you need to be as descriptive as possible. Also, include how your products and/or services offered are better than what competitors are offering out there. Make sure you include reasons why customers would choose your business over another. Approach this section as if you’re writing a mission statement, and carefully summarize the entire purpose of your business. Investors want to know everything about your business, so never be shy in telling them.