A guide to developing a strategic business plan.
by Steve Combs
This article provides an outline for developing a strategic plan for your company.
- Provide a brief, carefully worded description of your business. In one or two sentences, capture the identity of your company, what it does, and its target customers. Tell a story, not just a list of bullet points.
- If the quality of your management team is a key differentiator, include brief bios early in the story. The bios should focus on experience relevant to your new venture, with an emphasis on potential connections in your company’s industry, past company successes and overall depth.
The Problem/Market Opportunity
- Clearly and briefly address the company’s market. Then define the problem or inefficiency currently suffered by the target market or customers. If possible, refer to objective market research data to support your claims. Introduce the audience to the demand that exists for your company’s solutions.
- After describing the problem, explain how your company solves it. Emphasize the reasons why the market will be (or is) compelled to use and pay for your solution and how it delivers a return on investment.
- Provide detail on the products that make up your solution to the market opportunity. Explain how everything works and why it is unique. Emphasize key barriers to entry created by the product (patents, trade secrets, domain expertise, etc.). Describe the “secret sauce” that differentiates your product from your competitors. Be complete yet as clear and simple as possible. Break down the discussion into easy steps that can be followed by someone not familiar with your industry.
- Discuss existing customers using/testing your products. “Show off” your client base and validate the demand for your products. Testimonials from your customers are useful. Emphasize your biggest customers.
- Communicate how your company sells to its target customers and why it is working. Discuss deal structure, customer penetration strategies, and recurring revenue opportunities.
- Briefly discuss how your company markets to its target customers. Mention strategic partnerships, joint ventures, and other relationships. Communicate how your company grabs the attention of your market. Brag about marketing success, such as survey results and white paper responses.
- Explain your company’s revenue model. Describe the pricing of your products/services and the factors that will determine the price.
- Identify key competitors in your industry and how your company is different. A summary or matrix of your competition’s strengths and weaknesses as compared to your company is helpful.
- Include a summary of financial statements and forecasts. Have supporting details. Be sure to be conservative and highlight key assumptions, if applicable.
Funding Plan/Growth Scenarios
- Include the amount of funding sought and the proposed use of proceeds. Describe the growth projected from new funding vs. organic growth.