Business plans guide you along your rocky journey towards success in business. Reference one through your voyage and keep you on track towards success. And if your business plan is persuasive enough, it may even persuade investors to lend you money. But it takes a lot more than a compelling business plan to get investors to pour their money into your business startup.
So what exactly should a business plan include? A business plan template can certainly help you here… and there are a lot of them out there. But not all templates are created equal. Most of them lack one critical element that can make or break your campaign: a unique hook. You can ask any accountant, and they’ll say a unique hook is the single most important component to convincing investors to put their money behind your startup.
The most powerful hook in business plans is a story. It’s easy to tell stories to potential investors. But when those stories resonate with real people – especially early adopters who are hungry for change – they make a huge difference. So the best stories in sample business plans generally have three elements. They have an executive summary that sums up the big picture, a detailed description of the “nuts and bolts” of the business, and a call to action that get the idea out to the market.
Once you’ve written an executive summary that summarizes your mission, goals and strengths, start writing your unique marketing strategy. Using a template, write a headline based on your headline but with different words in the body (you’ll see later why this is so important). Next, describe the nuts and bolts of your business in three to four sentences, and end with a call to action.
This is where most business plans go wrong. You probably spend much more time defining your market compared to crafting a convincing business plan. A great template provides you with an instant list of how you plan to beat the competition, how you will differentiate yourself from competitors, and why you think you can have an edge on your competition. Use it to create a winning headline, create a great story that customers will remember and use it to differentiate yourself from the competition.
You want to look at your competition objectively. You don’t want to make blanket statements because that won’t make you unique. Instead, focus on each key term or phrase that you find most critical to your small business. For example, if you’re competing with medical supply stores, consider the benefits of ordering from a local hospital in your hometown. If you offer competitive prices, you may be able to persuade a hospital to include your products.
Another thing to consider when looking for free business plans online is the layout of the executive summary. Most executive summaries look like little more than a list of bullet points. They don’t provide enough information to make you formulate the strategies you need in your business plan, and they don’t give you enough details to formulate tactics for overcoming competition. You want to choose a layout that provides a clear layout of the key aspects of your business plan, so that you can focus on the most important things.
The key to finding free or cheap business plan templates online is to know what to look for. If you spend a bit of time evaluating the different options you have, you can certainly come up with a set of options that are perfect for your needs. It just takes a bit of research. Look for quality samples, testimonials, and examples to get started. Once you’ve used one or two sample business plans, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them!