Write a business development plan
Now that you’re in the growth stage of your business, set things in motion with a business development plan.
A business development plan sets goals for growth and explains how you will achieve them. It can have a short-term or long-term focus. Review and revise your plan as often as you can. And keep building on it as your business evolves.
How to write a business development plan
Your business development plan is your roadmap to growth, so make it clear, specific and realistic.
What to include in a business development plan
- Opportunities for growth: Identify where growth will come from – whether it’s in creating new products, adding more services, breaking into new markets, or a combination of these.
- Funding plan: Determine how you’ll fund your business growth. How much capital do you already have? How much more do you need and how will you get it? Check out our guide on financing your business.
- Financial goals: Work out what revenue, costs and profits you’ll have if things stay the same. Use those numbers as a basis for setting new, more ambitious financial goals.
- Operational needs: Identify what things about your business will need to change in order to achieve growth. Will you need extra people, more equipment, or new suppliers?
- Sales and marketing activities: Figure out what sales and marketing efforts will effectively promote growth and how these efforts will change as the business gets bigger and better. Make sure your sales and marketing plan is sturdy enough to support your growing business.
- Team needs: You may need people to take on some of the tasks you’ve been doing. Think about what parts of running the business you enjoy most – and you’re good at – and what parts you might want to delegate to others. And give some thought to the culture you want to develop in your business as it grows. Check out our guide on hiring employees.
A sample business development plan
Avoid these common business development mistakes.
- Thinking short-term instead of long-term
- Underestimating how much money it will take to grow
- Not budgeting enough money to cover the costs of growth
- Focusing on too many growth opportunities: think quality, not quantity
Micro-planning can keep you focused
You may want to create some micro-plans for specific growth projects so their details don’t get overlooked. And you can build in some KPIs to measure your progress and successes. As your business grows, take note of your progress and make periodic adjustments to your business development plan to make sure it’s still relevant.
Support is out there
Remember you’re not the first to go through this. Seek out mentors, advisors or other business owners who can help you with your planning. Your accountant or bookkeeper may also be able to help or point you in the direction of the right people.
Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.
Growing your business
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Increasing sales revenue is one obvious way to help grow your business. But how do you sell more?
You can grow your business by selling more things to more people, or fewer things to fewer people. Let’s look at how.
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How to write a business development plan: a step by step guide.
So we’ve already tackled how to write the infamous business plan , but now that you’re in the growth stage of your business – what’s next?
Many business owners will look to write a business development plan with the aim to make their business better. Running a business is never a stationary job, you constantly have to be looking to grow and improve.
But what exactly is a business development plan and how do you write one? Let’s find out.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
What Is a Business Development Plan?
How to write a business development plan, key takeaways.
A business development plan is a document put together by the business owner with the aim to grow and improve their business. The plan will set goals for growth and explain how you will achieve them.
A business development strategy can have a short-term or long-term focus, or both. They should also be constantly reviewed and revised as things shift and your goals may change.
A health plan is one that builds as your business evolves.
A standard business development strategy can be split up into 6 different sections, each one with a different aim and purpose. These sections are:
You should always be looking to grow your business. In this section, you will identify where growth will come from. For example, whether it’s new product development, adding different services or breaking into new markets. Your main business development goals should always point towards growth.
According to a U.S. Bank study, 82% of small businesses fail because of poor cash flow management and understanding. That’s why it’s vital that you have a constant eye on your funding and your bottom line.
You need to understand how you’ll fund your business development. So in this section, you should lay out your current capital, and how much more you will need to sustain growth.
3. Financial Goals
You should have a good idea of your current revenue, costs and profits. These numbers can then be used as a starting point for setting new, more ambitious revenue goals. This is for when you have expanded and developed your business.
4. Operational Needs
When growing a business, your operational needs will change. For example, what started out as a two-person job can develop into needing a whole team of people. So in this section, you will need to identify what things about your business will need to change to accommodate and promote growth.
5. Sales and Marketing
No business can succeed without a strong and stable sales team and marketing team. As your business grows, so will your sales and marketing needs. So you will need to take the time to figure out your target market and what sales and marketing efforts will promote growth. You should then put all of your focus on those efforts.
It’s vital that your sales process and marketing strategies are strong and sturdy enough to support a growing business.
6. Team Needs
Every strong business needs a strong team around it. When you started your business, it’s likely that you shouldered a lot of the jobs and responsibilities. As your business grows, you’ll soon come to realize that you can no longer do this alone.
So as a business developer, you need to think about what jobs and tasks you are best and most effective at. You should then correctly delegate the other responsibilities to the appropriate team members. This is often a good way to figure out if you have the right team around you. If you dread the thought of offloading tasks to your team, you may not have the trust in your team that you should.
Business development plans may seem like a relatively daunting task. But once you figure out the basics then they can almost write themselves.
You need to have an open mindset, a realistic approach and the ability to accept some potential failures.
Expanding and developing a business is hard work, but with the right plan in place, you are giving yourself the best chance possible.
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Meet any target: business development plan template
A company’s goals are an integral part of its productivity. When your team understands what targets they need to hit, they have something clear to strive for and feel a sense of pride when they succeed. Setting intentions about where your business is going and how to get there is an important part of the building process.
Gain clarity about what your company’s objectives are with the help of a free business development plan template. We’ll share a fully customizable template with you that you can use on monday.com. But before that, this article looks at the benefits of using such templates and what you should include in a business development plan.
Get the template
What is a business development plan template?
A business development plan template is a customizable document that outlines the objectives of your business and actionable steps to meet them. These can be your company’s long or short-term goals, amounts needed for start-up costs, or specific milestones, such as hitting a specific monthly sales target, or getting your first repeat client. The plan outlines steps to take to get to those goals and assigns specific tasks to individuals to hold them accountable for meeting the deadlines.
A business development plan template is a pre-formatted tool that describes your business objectives and how you’ll achieve them.
Although you can always write these plans down in a regular, static document, many businesses opt to use a customizable pre-built format to get off to a strong start.
Why use a business development plan template?
As a business owner, creating a custom, agile business development plan helps you gain clarity regarding decision-making on areas, such as investments, resources, and budgeting. Unlike with pen and paper, or even a word doc, a template is dynamic. You can move initiatives around, assign ownership, store all relevant information on the template itself, and customize any aspect of the template from labels, template structure and appearance, automations, and more.
Of course, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to creating a well-thought-out document. Below, we’ll discuss some of the things you may want to consider and include in your business development plan.
What to include in a business development plan
A business development plan comes into play during the growth stage of your business. By specifying your targets and plans of action, the business development plan becomes a roadmap for achieving growth and success. To ensure you have a strong plan, consider including the elements summarized below.
A business’s growth is largely based on its financial success, so it’s critical to assess your current financial position to set targets for the future. Start by:
- Looking to your past and current revenue as a baseline for what your business brings in
- Assessing your overhead costs versus your profits
- Setting goals for bringing in higher profits and revenue in the coming months and years
- Getting specific about your timeline, so you can reassess your financial position when you hit those dates
Meeting your financial goals and achieving financial growth requires funding. Use this section of the business development plan to determine the amount of business capital you currently have and what steps you can take to secure more funding in the future within your target market segment.
Opportunities for growth
Look at your business to identify where you have room to grow. This will vary depending on what industry and business you work in. For some, this might mean developing a new line of products or adding additional services that can attract new clients and boost revenue.
Examine operational needs and take a practical look at what needs to change in the daily function of your business to support expansion and further development. This could mean investing in new equipment or hiring additional personnel to oversee specific departments or projects.
Sales and marketing plans
An important part of business growth is how you promote your company to consumers. Determine a marketing strategy to get customers excited about your new products and services or to inform consumers of investments you’re making in equipment upgrades. Your marketing plans are how you’ll communicate your investments and improvements to drive growth through customer interest.
Understand strengths and weaknesses
Creating a business development plan requires a firm understanding of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. To identify these, consider performing a SWOT analysis . You can use the resulting information to develop a strategic plan to leverage strengths and improve on weak areas across all aspects of your business.
Building your team
For a business to grow successfully, you must also expand your workforce. This means hiring new team members and learning to delegate tasks with a lower priority or difficulty level, so you can focus on matters of high-level priority. Use this part of your plan to assess what tasks you can assign to someone else and how many people you might need to hire to meet the demands of your growing business.
Having a plan to develop your business is a great foundation. But you also need tools to put that plan into action. Starting with a solution that lets you bring people together, communicate priorities, and manage tasks can increase your chances of success.
monday.com supports business development and planning
Your business development plan template is the starting point for your company’s expansion. As you move toward creating targets and future plans for your business, you can make use of the many other features and templates on monday.com to understand where you’re at with your business and what areas are ready to support growth.
monday.com lets you create workflows to plan and track projects and day-to-day processes. Connect off-platform tools necessary for collaboration and communication with team members from around the world, and leverage no-code automation opportunities to streamline repetitive tasks.
You can start with our Business Development Plan Template, customizing the columns to meet your specific needs. Take notes, mention team members on tasks to get their feedback, or color-code your business development plan to create a visual that’s easy to digest at a glance.
Once you’re ready to put your business development plan into action, turn to our Template Center for plenty of other tools to help you get started on various tasks.
A business development plan template isn’t the only useful tool for growing your business. Consider some of these other options to help your teams increase efficiency and promote growth.
One-page business plan template
Our easy-to-use One-page Business Plan Template is meant to provide an overview of your objectives and deadlines at a glance. Completing the one-page business plan template creates a reference point for the scope of your business objectives that you can easily return to at any time.
Business executive summary template
Our Business Executive Summary Template is an ideal tool when you’re preparing to pitch your company to investors. It offers a guide for emphasizing the core of your business plan in a way that appeals to the interests of your target audience. You can include sales/marketing plans, staff expenses, and long-term goals to provide prospective stakeholders with a clear picture of where your business stands and where it’s going.
Writing business plans is easier when you start with a template. But knowing what to include and what might be most important can help you make the most of such documents. Check the FAQs below for some more tips.
FAQs about business development plan templates
What are the main parts of a business plan?
A solid business plan should have four key components. The main parts of a business plan include:
- An executive summary
- A marketing plan
- Key management bios
- A financial plan that includes cost and pricing information
What is the most important part of a business plan?
The executive summary is the most important part of any business plan. The executive summary acts as the preface to the overall business plan and the hook that gets readers excited about the possibility of investing in your company. The goal of the executive summary is to entice the investor to read the rest of your plan, so aim for the most polished version possible.
Build your company’s future with a business development plan template from monday.com
Your business development strategy is critical to growing your company and meeting future goals. Using templates from monday.com can help you build your business development plan to drive success.
Having a business plan creates a 30% higher chance of growth for your business compared to businesses that don’t start with written action plans. A customizable, user-friendly business development plan template provides a starting point to realizing your objectives.
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9 steps for writing a strategic business development plan Chevron down rounded
9 steps for writing a strategic business development plan.
Updated 04 October 2023 • 7 min read
Developing a business plan can mark the start of an exciting phase, as you start charting future growth. This document serves as the roadmap for your business development strategy as you take your business to new heights.
Creating an effective business development plan can be a tough task. It requires you to think through several aspects of your business that you may not consider on a day-to-day basis.
Don’t worry — we’re here to help. This article will walk you through how to write a business development plan, so you can grow your business in the most effective way possible.
What is a business development plan?
A business development plan is the growth roadmap for your business. It’s a strategy document that lays out where you want to take your business and how you intend to get there.
A thorough and carefully crafted business development plan lays out your growth targets, financial projections and the tools and resources your company needs. It may also define your marketing and efforts that support your goals.
A business development plan provides clarity and helps you keep your objectives in focus during the day-to-day grind. It also provides a strong foundation for making business decisions — if you’re not sure whether a move makes sense, you can always consult your plan.
Why do you need a business development plan?
Creating a proper business development strategy can be a lot of work. But it pays dividends by providing clarity and focus. It also helps when trying to secure funding, as it shows you've thought through all the possibilities.
A business development plan helps you:
A strong business development plan helps you get clear about priorities during the hectic launch phase of your business. It helps you define your goals and objectives, as well as chart out how you’ll reach them.
As you dive into the day-to-day running of your business, it can be easy to get bogged down in details and lose sight of your larger goals. Your business plan provides an anchor that keeps you in place. And if you’re already in business, it can help you take a step back and refocus on the fundamentals.
A detailed business plan is one of the most effective ways to show investors that you can be trusted. This is especially important when you’re just starting out and have no track record of performance. Your business plan shows that you’ve thought about how your business will fare in the long run, not just in the short term.
A proper business development plan should include a roadmap. This is your high-level strategy document that serves as the map to your company’s growth. It lays out how you’ll measure success, provides targets to aim for and defines your plans for hitting them.
How to write a business development plan
If you’re convinced that you need to write your own business development plan (or update the one you have), you might be wondering where to start. Let’s walk through the process.
1. Set clear financial goals
Your business development strategy should include clear financial goals. For example, every business wants to increase sales; however, that’s not a specific goal. Instead, set a target for your sales figures within a certain timeframe, and keep it realistic by using your current numbers as a baseline.
To do this, project your revenue, profit and expenses if business were to stay the same. Then consider what a realistic target might be and include that. This number may be lower than you'd expect, but it’s more important that it’s actually achievable.
2. Refine customer profiles
Detailed customer and audience profiles help your business effectively target its marketing efforts. Your business might already have customer profiles — updating your business plan is a perfect time to update these profiles, as well. And if you don’t have profiles yet, there’s no time like the present.
You can start refining your customer profiles by examining your current customer base. Look at their demographics and habits. Then use a similar strategy to create profiles of your ideal customers.
3. Identify key growth opportunities
Next, identify your key growth opportunities. These could be new products or services, an expansion into a new market, or even a complete rebuild of your current offerings.
Whatever these opportunities are, include them in your business development plan. Articulate how and why these opportunities will help grow the business.
4. List funding sources
Your plan should include not just the amount of funding you’ll need, but how you plan to get it — loans , equity investors or crowdfunding , for example. Now is the time to come up with an in-depth funding strategy. Doing this legwork on the front end, while developing your plan, makes it easier to focus on execution when stress inevitably creeps in.
This part of your plan should include the sources you’ve secured, as well as those you’d like to seek funds from. It should also include how much you’ll seek from each source, what form those funds will take, and any obstacles you might encounter.
5. Determine operational needs
You’ve laid out your goals, growth opportunities and potential funding sources. Now, look over these items and determine how to make all this happen.
Be aware that as your operational needs expand, your business expenses will also increase. For example, you may require additional equipment, a new warehouse to enable expanded logistics, or more employees to help serve customers. Whatever it is, build it into your business development plan.
6. Develop a sales and marketing strategy
Your business development plan is the perfect place to include sales and marketing strategies. Ultimately, these will be some of the key drivers for leveraging your growth opportunities and hitting your financial goals.
As you draft these ideas, run them through this simple test: Will they still hold up if you reach your growth targets, or will you need to rework them? Ideally, you want sales and marketing strategies that can grow along with your business.
7. Create your elevator pitch
Your elevator pitch is the short-and-sweet version of your company’s mission. The premise is simple: If you were to meet someone on an elevator and only had that brief ride to pitch your company, what would you say?
Some people adopt arbitrary rules on their elevator pitch, such as limiting it to a Twitter-length 280 characters. While this limitation isn’t necessary, it should give you a good idea of the brevity of an elevator pitch and the impact you’ll need to make.
8. Identify your resource needs
You’ve identified your broad operational needs — equipment, facilities and employees. You’ll also want to identify your resource needs. These include how you might manage your technology and team members in a more specific way.
For example, if your marketing plan involves creating video content, you’ll need the proper equipment and software to create it. Your sales strategy might involve retooling your CRM or migrating to a new system. Or, your growth targets might mean that you need to move to a new accounting platform .
9. Determine how you'll measure success
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to decide how you’ll measure progress towards your goals. How will you know when you’ve hit that ambitious sales target or grown your business in that new market?
You need to be able to measure your business performance and progress. Setting targets and KPIs for your employees may be good ways to keep things on track.
Business Development Plan Template
If you need a business development plan example, we’ve put together this template . It’ll help you shape your own business plan and outline the key sections.
Stay productive and profitable with MYOB
A strong business development plan is a powerful asset for driving growth. It helps you outline your plans and stay on course, even when you’re overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks.
Achieving your business goals is much easier when you have help — and that doesn’t mean you need to hire more people. MYOB accounting software automates business operations like invoicing, payroll, and tax reporting, so you can spend more time focusing on strategic growth.
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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step
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1. Write an executive summary
2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. add additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.
A business plan is a document that outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business’s next three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.
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This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.
Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.
» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps
Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:
Your business’s registered name.
Address of your business location .
Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.
Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.
Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.
» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan
The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.
If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.
For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.
In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.
You should include the following:
An explanation of how your product or service works.
The pricing model for your product or service.
The typical customers you serve.
Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.
Your sales strategy.
Your distribution strategy.
You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.
Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.
Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.
» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing
If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.
You may also include metrics such as:
Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.
Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.
Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.
This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.
» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:
The best business checking accounts .
The best business credit cards .
The best accounting software .
This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.
Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.
Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.
List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.
Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:
Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.
Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors, taking their mind off your business and putting it on the mistakes you made. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.
Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.
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Business Plan: What It Is + How to Write One
Discover what a business plan includes and how writing one can foster your business’s development.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a written document that defines your business goals and the tactics to achieve those goals. A business plan typically explores the competitive landscape of an industry, analyzes a market and different customer segments within it, describes the products and services, lists business strategies for success, and outlines financial planning.
In your research into business plans, you may come across different formats, and you might be wondering which kind will work best for your purposes.
Let’s define two main types of business plans , the traditional business pla n and the lean start-up business plan . Both types can serve as the basis for developing a thriving business, as well as exploring a competitive market analysis, brand strategy , and content strategy in more depth. There are some significant differences to keep in mind [ 1 ]:
The traditional business plan is a long document that explores each component in depth. You can build a traditional business plan to secure funding from lenders or investors.
The lean start-up business plan focuses on the key elements of a business’s development and is shorter than the traditional format. If you don’t plan to seek funding, the lean start-up plan can serve mainly as a document for making business decisions and carrying out tasks.
Now that you have a clear business plan definition , continue reading to begin writing a detailed plan that will guide your journey as an entrepreneur.
How to write a business plan
In the sections below, you’ll build the following components of your business plan:
Products and services
Marketing plan and sales strategies
Explore each section to bring fresh inspiration to the surface and reveal new possibilities for developing your business. You may choose to adapt the sections, skip over some, or go deeper into others, depending on which format you’re using. Consider your first draft a foundation for your efforts and one that you can revise, as needed, to account for changes in any area of your business.
Read more: What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One
1. Executive summary
This is a short section that introduces the business plan as a whole to the people who will be reading it, including investors, lenders, or other members of your team. Start with a sentence or two about your business, your goals for developing it, and why it will be successful. If you are seeking funding, summarize the basics of the financial plan.
2. Business description
Use this section to provide detailed information about your company and how it will operate in the marketplace.
Mission statement: What drives your desire to start a business? What purpose are you serving? What do you hope to achieve for your business, the team, your customers?
Revenue streams: From what sources will your business generate revenue? Examples include product sales, service fees, subscriptions, rental fees, license fees, and more.
Leadership: Describe the leaders in your business, their roles and responsibilities, and your vision for building teams to perform various functions, such as graphic design, product development, or sales.
Legal structure: If you’ve incorporated your business or registered it with your state as a legal entity such as an S-corp or LLC, include the legal structure here and the rationale behind this choice.
3. Competitor analysis
This section will include an assessment of potential competitors, their offers, and marketing and sales efforts. For each competitor, explore the following:
Value proposition: What outcome or experience does this brand promise?
Products and services: How does each one solve customer pain points and fulfill desires? What are the price points?
Marketing: Which channels do competitors use to promote? What kind of content does this brand publish on these channels? What messaging does this brand use to communicate value to customers?
Sales: What sales process or buyer’s journey does this brand lead customers through?
Read more: What Is Competitor Analysis? And How to Conduct One
4. Products and services
Use this section to describe everything your business offers to its target market . For every product and service, list the following:
The value proposition or promise to customers, in terms of how they will experience it
How the product serves customers, addresses their pain points, satisfies their desires, and improves their lives
The features or outcomes that make the product better than those of competitors
Your price points and how these compare to competitors
5. Marketing plan and sales strategies
In this section, you’ll draw from thorough market research to describe your target market and how you will reach them.
Who are your ideal customers?
How can you describe this segment according to their demographics (age, ethnicity, income, location, etc.) and psychographics (beliefs, values, aspirations, lifestyle, etc.)?
What are their daily lives like?
What problems and challenges do they experience?
What words, phrases, ideas, and concepts do consumers in your target market use to describe these problems when posting on social media or engaging with your competitors?
What messaging will present your products as the best on the market? How will you differentiate messaging from competitors?
On what marketing channels will you position your products and services?
How will you design a customer journey that delivers a positive experience at every touchpoint and leads customers to a purchase decision?
Read more: Market Analysis: What It Is and How to Conduct One
6. Brand strategy
In this section, you will describe your business’s design, personality, values, voice, and other details that go into delivering a consistent brand experience.
What are the values that define your brand?
What visual elements give your brand a distinctive look and feel?
How will your marketing messaging reflect a distinctive brand voice, including the tone, diction, and sentence-level stylistic choices?
How will your brand look and sound throughout the customer journey?
Define your brand positioning statement. What will inspire your audience to choose your brand over others? What experiences and outcomes will your audience associate with your brand?
Read more: What Is a Brand Strategy? And How to Create One
7. Financial planning
In this section, you will explore your business’s financial future. If you are writing a traditional business plan to seek funding, this section is critical for demonstrating to lenders or investors that you have a strategy for turning your business ideas into profit. For a lean start-up business plan, this section can provide a useful exercise for planning how you will invest resources and generate revenue [ 2 ].
Use any past financials and other sections of this business plan, such as your price points or sales strategies, to begin your financial planning.
How many individual products or service packages do you plan to sell over a specific time period?
List your business expenses, such as subscribing to software or other services, hiring contractors or employees, purchasing physical supplies or equipment, etc.
What is your break-even point, or the amount you have to sell to cover all expenses?
Create a sales forecast for the next three to five years: (No. of units to sell X price for each unit) – (cost per unit X No. of units) = sales forecast
Quantify how much capital you have on hand.
When writing a traditional business plan to secure funding, you may choose to append supporting documents, such as licenses, permits, patents, letters of reference, resumes, product blueprints, brand guidelines, the industry awards you’ve received, and media mentions and appearances.
Business plan key takeaways and best practices
Remember: Creating a business plan is crucial when starting a business. You can use this document to guide your decisions and actions and even seek funding from lenders and investors.
Keep these best practices in mind:
Your business plan should evolve as your business grows. Return to it periodically, such as every quarter or year, to update individual sections or explore new directions your business can take.
Make sure everyone on your team has a copy of the business plan and welcome their input as they perform their roles.
Ask fellow entrepreneurs for feedback on your business plan and look for opportunities to strengthen it, from conducting more market and competitor research to implementing new strategies for success.
Start your business with Coursera
Ready to start your business? Watch this video on the lean approach from the Entrepreneurship Specialization :
1. US Small Business Administration. “ Write Your Business Plan , https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan." Accessed April 19, 2022.
2. Inc. " How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan , https://www.inc.com/guides/business-plan-financial-section.html." Accessed April 14, 2022.
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What Is a Business Plan?
Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.
Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.
- A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
- Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
- For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
- There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.
Investopedia / Ryan Oakley
Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.
Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."
Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.
There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.
Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.
While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.
While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.
Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.
The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.
These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:
- Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
- Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
- Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
- Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
- Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.
The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.
2 Types of Business Plans
Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.
- Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
- Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.
Why Do Business Plans Fail?
A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.
How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.
What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?
The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.
Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.
A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.
Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."
U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."
- Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills 1 of 46
- Business Ethics: Definition, Principles, Why They're Important 2 of 46
- Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One 3 of 46
- Organizational Structure for Companies With Examples and Benefits 4 of 46
- Which Type of Organization Is Best For Your Business? 5 of 46
- What Are the Major Types of Businesses in the Private Sector? 6 of 46
- Corporate Culture Definition, Characteristics, and Importance 7 of 46
- What Is an S Corp? Definition, Taxes, and How to File 8 of 46
- LLC vs. Incorporation: Which Should I Choose? 9 of 46
- Private Company: What It Is, Types, and Pros and Cons 10 of 46
- Sole Proprietorship: What It Is, Pros & Cons, and Differences From an LLC 11 of 46
- Bootstrapping Definition, Strategies, and Pros/Cons 12 of 46
- Crowdfunding: What It Is, How It Works, and Popular Websites 13 of 46
- Seed Capital: What It Is, How It Works, Example 14 of 46
- Venture Capital: What Is VC and How Does It Work? 15 of 46
- Startup Capital Definition, Types, and Risks 16 of 46
- Capital Funding: Definition, How It Works, and 2 Primary Methods 17 of 46
- Series Funding: A, B, and C 18 of 46
- Small Business Administration (SBA): Definition and What It Does 19 of 46
- Upper Management: What it is, How it Works 20 of 46
- What is the C Suite?: Meaning and Positions Defined 21 of 46
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO): What They Do vs. Other Chief Roles 22 of 46
- Operations Management: Understanding and Using It 23 of 46
- Human Resource Planning (HRP) Meaning, Process, and Examples 24 of 46
- Brand: Types of Brands and How to Create a Successful Brand Identity 25 of 46
- What Is Brand Personality? How It Works and Examples 26 of 46
- What Is Brand Management? Requirements, How It Works, and Example 27 of 46
- What Is Brand Awareness? Definition, How It Works, and Strategies 28 of 46
- Brand Loyalty: What It Is, and How to Build It 29 of 46
- Brand Extension: Definition, How It Works, Example, and Criticism 30 of 46
- What Is Social Networking? 31 of 46
- Affiliate Marketer: Definition, Examples, and How to Get Started 32 of 46
- What Is Commercialization, Plus the Product Roll-Out Process 33 of 46
- Digital Marketing Overview: Types, Challenges & Required Skills 34 of 46
- Direct Marketing: What It Is and How It Works 35 of 46
- Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained 36 of 46
- What Are Marketing Campaigns? Definition, Types, and Examples 37 of 46
- How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example 38 of 46
- Micromarketing Explained: Definition, Uses, and Examples 39 of 46
- Network Marketing Meaning and How It Works 40 of 46
- Product Differentiation: What It Is, How Businesses Do It, and the 3 Main Types 41 of 46
- Target Market: Definition, Purpose, Examples, Market Segments 42 of 46
- Outside Sales: What They are, How They Work 43 of 46
- What Is a Sales Lead? How It Works and Factors Affecting Quality 44 of 46
- Indirect Sales: What it is, How it Works 45 of 46
- What Is Inside Sales? Definition, How It Works, and Advantages 46 of 46
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Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan
By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021
A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice.
Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.
A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:
- Product goals and deadlines for each month
- Monthly financials for the first two years
- Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
- Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years
Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.
While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.
For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .
Business Plan Steps
The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:
- Executive summary
- Description of business
- Market analysis
- Competitive analysis
- Description of organizational management
- Description of product or services
- Marketing plan
- Sales strategy
- Funding details (or request for funding)
- Financial projections
If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.
Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.
Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?
Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.
How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business
In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.
Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:
Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?
There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.
The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans
A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.
In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.
How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step
Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.
Step 1: Executive Summary
The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:
- What is the vision and mission of the company?
- What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?
See our roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.
Step 2: Description of Business
The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:
- What business are we in?
- What does our business do?
Step 3: Market Analysis
In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:
- Who is our customer?
- What does that customer value?
Step 4: Competitive Analysis
In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:
- Who is the competition?
- What do they do best?
- What is our unique value proposition?
Step 5: Description of Organizational Management
In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.
Step 6: Description of Products or Services
In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.
Questions to answer in this section are as follows:
- What is the product or service?
- How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?
Step 7: Marketing Plan
In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:
- Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
- What channels will you use to reach your target market?
- What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
- If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
- How will you measure success?
Step 8: Sales Plan
Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts.
Start by answering the following questions:
- What is the sales strategy?
- What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
- What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
- What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
- What are the metrics of success?
Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)
This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:
- How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
- How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
- What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?
Step 10: Financial Projections
Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years.
While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:
- How and when will the company first generate a profit?
- How will the company maintain profit thereafter?
Business Plan Template
Download Business Plan Template
Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet
This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.
For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy.
If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.
How to Write a Simple Business Plan
A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.
Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .
- Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company.
- Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision.
- Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
- Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
- Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
- Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
- Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
- Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
- Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting.
- Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.
Simple Business Plan Template
Download Simple Business Plan Template
Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Smartsheet
Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.
Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates .
How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup
A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.
While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:
- Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
- List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
- Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
- Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
- Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.).
- Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
- Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
- Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.
Lean Business Plan Template for Startups
Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups
Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF
Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.
See our wide variety of startup business plan templates for more options.
How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan
A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.
In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.
Download free financial templates to support your business plan.
Tips for Writing a Business Plan
Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.
- Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
- Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
- Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
- Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
- Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”
Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.
Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.
“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”
Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”
Resources for Writing a Business Plan
While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.
Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.
How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business
A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships.
Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.
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Business development plan: A step-by-step approach
by Lucia Piseddu | Jan 16, 2023
A good business development plan can set you up for success. Learn how to create your own from scratch with zero experience!
If you’re just starting with business development , chances are that you’re a little confused about how you should do it. I got lost many times during my entrepreneurial journey. One of those moments was when I had to write a business development plan for the first time.
Now, the main problem was that I didn’t have a clue about what a business development plan was to start with. And of course, when I started digging, I got even more confused. I found a lot of information online, but nothing that would tell me how to do it step-by-step.
So after some years of trying and failing, I finally found my way to deal with it and build my own business development plan.
Below I’ll explain how to write a business development plan and what information you should include in practical terms. But first, let’s define what a business development plan is.
What is a business development plan?
A business development plan is a document that helps you implement your business development strategy in a step-by-step method. It involves a lot of research on the market and customers. But also, other aspects such as your competitors and buyer persona.
So, a business development plan is a detailed summary of important steps you’re going to take to grow your business. One key aspect to remember is that a business development plan is a LIVING document. This means that you have to update your plan continuously based on new information about your ecosystem.
This helps you strategize better but also ensures that it’s a document of quality insights.
A business development plan is divided into two main parts:
- Research: in the research phase, you learn more about your market, customers, and competitors.
- Action: you use your research and put it into action. Specifically, this translates into creating a value proposition, and content, and experimenting with ideas.
You can download our template for free at this link .
Step 1: Organize your business development plan
I’m a fan of organizing information in a structured, intuitive, and efficient way. Although it may sound basic, the first thing you should think about is to have a proper file you can consult on a daily basis.
It doesn’t have to contain every piece of information. Keep it simple by including only essential and key facts that will help you build an effective business development machine. Your business development plan needs to be easily accessible and quick to consult.
In this sense, you don’t need to get fancy and start looking for the latest software that promises you great time savings. Stick to something basic yet powerful. Google Sheets is your best ally when it comes to your business development plan.
So, the main goal of a business development plan is to keep information structured so that you can spot growth opportunities easier.
You can download our template for free at this link and start your business development plan.
Step 2: Market research
Market research is a stepping stone in a business development plan. It’s an activity to gather more information about customers’ preferences and needs. Many companies overlook this step thinking that their intuition will guide them through their challenges. Intuition can be helpful, but it’s still essential to know your customers better using research and data.
After all, most ideas start off from intuition. However, basing an entire plan on assumptions is never a smart strategy to use in business development. So, do your homework and make sure you always take educated guesses before starting to work on your business development plan.
Market research takes into account 3 variables . These will tell you the realistic size of the market you’re trying to target.
1 – Total Addressable Market or Total Available Market (TAM)
The TAM takes into account the entire market you’re operating in and basically tells you how much annual revenue there is available for your product or service.
Now, finding this information can be the first bummer. To me at least, it sounded quite impossible to find out. Later, I figured that there are many people out there that dedicate their life only to market research.
You can use Google to find out this information. But of course, you first need to know what you’re looking for. The information you need, in this case, is basically knowing how many companies or people would benefit from your product or service.
You also want to know how many companies operate in your exact space both in terms of services and geography. To get relevant market news, try Googling “your industry market trends”, “your market report”, or “your industry report”.
Many big consultancy groups and governmental institutions dedicate a lot of time to this type of research. It’s a good and reliable starting point.
PRO TIP: Choose your sources very carefully. You’ll find a lot of random information, learn to filter out what you’re reading.
2 – Total Served Market (TSM)
Once you know how big your market is, you need to check how much of it is already served by your competitors.
In this case, the information you’re looking for is all about your competition. You should ask yourself first how many of them you have.
Then you need to find out how well they’re doing and start hunting for as much intelligence as possible.
The info you need to look for is how many clients your competitors claim to have, what revenue they generate, and where they are present.
First, Google keywords to identify your competitors. Right after that, you can start digging deeper into their websites and find detailed info.
Bigger competitors will most likely have good press coverage. Read these articles to gather more insight.
Last, don’t overlook the importance of customer review websites. Customers can uncover many relevant details that your competitors don’t want to reveal. And of course, make use of technology to make the most out of your research.
3 – Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM)
The last step in your market research is to quantify how much you can realistically obtain with your business development effort.
Your SOM is your share in the market. So, to put it simply, it’s not possible to have an entire market buy only your products and services. There is a specific customer base that will buy from your company. So, your SOM refers to your market share and the people that can become your customers if they see a benefit from your products or services.
SOM takes into account your brand awareness, market insights, but also competition. It helps you forecast potential earnings and also gain customers. Based on the research, you become aware of what your competitors are offering to the market. Moreover, you will be able to tailor your products and services to meet the needs and preferences of your customers.
Step 3: Competitor analysis
The third step to do when creating your business development plan is to do a competitor analysis . So far, I discussed market research and how it helps you get to know the preferences of your target audience better. But, to grow your business sustainably and profitably, it’s vital that you analyze your competitors as well.
First, figure out who your direct and indirect competitors are. So, in a Google search, we try to identify or find the ID of each company that competes in your market. This can be found in the website’s ‘About us’ section. Then, the aim is to find key personalities such as managers and executives, and so on.
Once you have this information, you can move on to products and services. You can find this on your competitor’s website as well. This specific section defines what the company specializes in. You can use this information to compare your products to those of your competitors and try to find ways to improve them.
Continue by checking their clients, and the pricing they offer for their products and services.
PRO TIP: Read the customer reviews of your competitors to spot their strengths and weaknesses. Use the insights to improve your offer.
Step 4: Customer research
After identifying your market share, you can start thinking of what kind of customers within this segment, you are trying to sell your products and services to.
The best way to tackle this is by running proper customer research that will provide you with your Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Persona.
This is the part I like the most because it really helps you understand who you’re talking to. But how do you do it? First, if you already have some customers, start analyzing them. You want to gather more information on who they are, what they do, and their habitual traits.
- What job titles do these people have?
- How old are they?
- What communication tools do they use?
- Where do they hang out?
- What are their personalities like?
- What are their challenges?
- What do they do in their daily lives?
You can find all this info by simply checking social media profiles. Really, just by observing their social media platforms, you can get to know them in-depth! Take some time to check a few ones (at least 10) and you’re going to start seeing patterns.
Then, check some job descriptions about the people you’re targeting. This will highlight what are their professional responsibilities and how your product or service can help them. Last, it’s always advisable to run a survey.
Step 5: Build your Buyer Persona
Right after having run your customer research, you can now create your buyer persona.
The buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers based on data and research,
In your buyer persona, you need to include all the relevant information you found through your customer research. It should look like something below:
Step 6: Value Propositions
The customer research concludes the research part of your business development plan. Now it’s time to put your insights into action and start building your business development strategy .
The first valuable asset you need to build is a value proposition.
A value proposition is the value your customers get should they choose to buy your products and services
The value proposition helps you communicate your value as a company and you can use it on your website, sales calls, social media posts, etc. Having a clear value proposition will help you attract the right audience and persuade potential customers to work with you.
Of course, a good value proposition is based on that, and if you followed all the steps, you should have all the insights you need.
To build a value proposition we will use the Job-To-Be-Done framework. This helps you identify what are the responsibilities of your buyer persona when they’re doing their job.
For example, a typical responsibility for a recruiter is to find the right talent .
Second, consider the pains and gains of your customers. Customers’ emotions are usually the reason behind their buying decisions. They influence their preferences, frequency of buying, and also which companies they buy from.
Especially the challenges are a crucial element in your value proposition because you can immediately link your solution to a concrete pain that your customers are facing.
For example, let’s go back to the example of the recruiter. We know that one main responsibility of a recruiter is to find talent. One major challenge for recruiters is to have enough time to process all the CVs they receive daily.
Now, let’s assume you work for a company that provides recruitment software that can automate CV screening.
A good value proposition, in this case, would sound like this:
Save 70% of your CV screening time using our recruitment software
Step 7: Content plan
Once you have your value proposition, the next step is to share it with your target audience. That’s when having a content plan becomes a must.
A content plan helps you strategize the type of information you want to feed your audience. It also helps you select the channels on which you should build your presence.
For content to be effective, you need to have a clear idea of your target audience when you write posts/emails, or articles. So, always consult your buyer persona before creating content.
Just like the value propositions, effective content revolves around the pain point you identified earlier. Use them to get the attention of your audience and provide valuable information that helps them alleviate these pains.
This will help you establish yourself as a valuable resource and when they will want to solve their issues, you’ll be the first to pop into their minds.
Step 8: Experiments
The last step in your business development plan is all about creativity and finding opportunities. This is the moment in which we create experiments to validate some of our business assumptions. Your experiment should be ideas that you think will bring sustainable growth to your company.
Once you identify some ideas, define some goals and set up the methodology you will follow to run this experiment. For example, if you heard of a new social media and you think your audience might be on it, build an experiment to validate if this is true and if it can bring you results.
Attach a goal to this idea, for example, generating 10 qualified leads on this new channel.
Then decide for how long you will run the experiment – ideally a couple of weeks. Once the experiment is over analyze what happened. If the experiment was successful, you need to scale this activity. If not, take the learnings for further improvements.
The business development plan is a key document that helps you map your ecosystem and strategize your business development efforts.
It consists of a research part and an action part. In the first part, you analyze your market, competitors, and customers. In the second, you use your insights to build value propositions, content plans, and experiments.
The business development plan is a live document, so you have to update it every time you have new insights. Of course, you have to use it in your daily operations to make sure you’re on the right track.
The business development plan is one of the assets you will build during our training. Would you like to shake up your business development career and work in a more structured way? Then join our next cohort .
If you are a startup founder check out the startup program , specifically designed to help you take your business from good to great.
Last, if you are a company wanting to train your business development team, our custom training solutions are the best way to take your team to the next level.
Webinar: How to run competitor analysis
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Webinar: Improve your cold outreach process
Are you struggling to generate leads? Watch our webinar to learn an effective cold outreach process, write good emails, and get more leads.
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The Ultimate Guide to Business Development in 2022
What Does Business Development Do?
Business development (or biz dev) identifies ways to increase long-term value through establishing your business in new markets, building meaningful partnerships, and increasing the value of an existing customer base.
Business developers collaborate with various business units across the company while influencing the firm’s direction and growth. This can be based on both current business and market trends.
Although business development and sales are closely related, it’s important to note what makes them different.
How is Business Development Different From Sales?
Business development helps you establish and maintain relationships with prospects, increase brand awareness, learn about your buyer personas, and look for new opportunities to promote company growth. In short, it covers every aspect of your business operations.
In contrast, the goal of your sales team is to get new clients. They can generate sales by email outreach, cold calling, or networking. Your sales team's success is measured by how many prospects they convert into customers.
The work of a business developer simplifies the sales manager's job. Let’s take a closer look at what business development representatives do.
What’s the Role of Business Development Representatives?
Companies typically hire business development representatives (BDRs) when they’re ready to scale from a small startup to a fast-growing company or when inbound leads are insufficient to keep the pipeline full.
When a business needs more qualified leads than it can generate through digital marketing , BDRs can help by initiating calls with prospects to determine if they'd be an ideal customer for the company.
If the potential customer is a good fit, the BDR will arrange for a discovery meeting between them and a member of their sales team. From there, it's the sales rep's responsibility to build strong relationships with the prospect and eventually get them to close deals.
Business development reps must know their product and service offerings intimately to communicate their value and purpose to potential clients.
Other BDR responsibilities include:
- Presenting the business to potential clients
- Identifying client needs and suggesting appropriate products or services
- Customizing product solutions to increase customer satisfaction
- Looking for new business opportunities in the market
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What Are the Activities of Business Development?
Successful business development activities run across various departments, including sales, marketing, product management, and project management.
All these activities are based on the goals set by the business development team. For example, suppose a business has a successful product in the United States. In that case, the biz dev team might evaluate the further potential for expansion.
After doing market research , the team found that they could expand the product to new target markets like Australia. The business development team then assesses the Australian markets and concludes that the company can achieve sales worth $2 billion in four years.
With such goals in place, the sales department can now use its sales strategies to target the customer base in the Australian market.
The main departments and activities influenced by business development are:
- Sales: Salespeople focus on a specific set of customers or markets with a particular revenue goal in mind.
- Marketing: The marketing team promotes and advertises products to sell them to end-users. It plays a complementary role in achieving sales targets.
- Project management: The business development team assesses the cost and time needed to expand a business into new markets. Once they set the goals, the project management team then swings into action to achieve the desired result.
- Strategic partnerships: When entering a new market, the business dev team weighs all the benefits and drawbacks of forming strategic partnerships with local businesses operating in the region. The team then decides if it's worth creating the partnership or going solo.
- Product management: Biz dev teams develop a plan that adheres to legal approvals, cost considerations, and regulatory adherence. The product management team then uses this plan to drive their work.
For instance, let’s say certain medicine compositions are allowed in India but not in France. In that case, the business development team will find out if the market in France requires a customized or new version of the product. They'll then create a product development plan from their research, which the product management team will use when creating medicine for that market.
Builds Crucial Relationships
Relationship-building is a critical component of the business development process. While acquiring new customers has its appeal, keeping existing customers will always result in a higher ROI — and it will cost you 5–25X less .
So whether it's networking with prospective partners, cultivating existing talent , or courting potential customers, a skilled business developer can zero in on the relationships that require the most attention.
In doing so, they'll be able to identify new business opportunities, generate leads, and make critical hires.
Boosts Growth and Lowers Costs
Growth is the end goal of business development, and one of the most common metrics for measuring business growth is the bottom line. Creating a strategy to increase the amount of money coming into the business while ensuring less money is going out is critical to business development.
When you focus on business development, you identify which products and markets have the highest profit potential and which deals to chase first. As a result, you'll make wise business decisions that'll keep costs down and identify areas of funding needed to facilitate expansion.
Helps Improve Your Brand’s Overall Image
A well-known brand can make more money than a lesser-known brand. In fact, the value of the world’s 100 most valuable brands increased by 42% in 2021, totaling a whopping $7.1 trillion.
Important Skills Business Developers Should Have
As your business grows, you may experience bottlenecks because of failing to notice problems as they emerge. These unexpected issues can arise within your company or outside the business due to, for example, poor customer management.
In either case, hiring a business developer to identify the problems hindering business growth can be beneficial.
Here are some must-have skills for business developers:
Strong Communication Skills
An excellent business developer must be a team player and have strong communication skills. Teams with effective communication can increase their productivity by up to 25% , and these skills are required to engage all the different stakeholders involved.
Business developers should also be able to confidently cold call prospects to increase the chances of gaining new clients.
Understanding Your Business and the Competition
A business developer should understand your products and services. They should also know everything about your competitors to provide you with the leverage needed to outperform them.
They'll conduct the necessary market research to identify your company's current position and competitive advantage over similar brands in the industry.
Negotiation & Persuasion Skills
Business development professionals should be tactful and diplomatic at all times. They should know when to compromise and when to take a stand to achieve your business goals.
They should also be able to win the hearts of your prospects to persuade them to become loyal customers.
High Collaboration Skills
Business development isn't a one-person show. Pumble shares that 86% of employees and executives blame workplace failures on a lack of effective collaboration and communication.
An effective business developer should be able to influence and build relationships and manage conflicts to get things done.
Effective Project Management Skills
Since developing a business is a project in itself, good business developers are effective project managers. Companies generally waste 11.4% of their resources due to ineffective project management.
So, business development managers should be able to set goals, manage projects, establish timelines, manage risk, calculate budgets, delegate tasks, and manage teams.
How To Create a Business Development Strategy
A solid business development strategy instructs your team on how to generate high-value leads that'll ultimately support your organization's long-term goals.
If you don't have a strategy, your team members may find it hard to identify qualified prospects . They may waste time developing relationships with prospects that'll never convert.
That said, here are three main steps to developing a reliable business development strategy:
Identify Your Audience and Competitive Landscape
Crafting a successful business development strategy starts with identifying your target audience. Focus on specific companies or clients that present significant growth opportunities for your business.
That's crucial because business development is a long-term game. The customer relationships you build may take months or even years to turn into sales. So, you don't want to build relationships with unqualified prospects.
Moreover, identify other businesses operating in your industry and get a clear picture of what they're offering to differentiate your product and deliver value to your customers.
Determine Which Channels To Use To Achieve Your Business Targets
Once you've identified your target audience and understood the competitive landscape, outline the channels you'll use to achieve your targets. That involves analyzing your yearly revenue goals and developing specific ways to achieve them.
The most effective business development channels are a combination of advertising, networking, referrals, content marketing, and cold calls.
Set SMART Goals and Choose Effective KPIs
Set SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound — goals for each channel to measure and track your progress.
Your business development objectives don't have to be directly related to revenue generation, but they should contain strategies for introducing prospects to your sales funnel .
In addition, ensure you can measure those goals with relevant, meaningful KPIs that reflect your company's health.
These metrics should give you a good idea of how effective your business development efforts are.
Thanks to inbound and the HubSpot software, we’ve been able to bridge the gap between marketing and closed sales.
National Marketing and Product Planning Manager
Suzuki South Africa
Business development is vital to any successful company. It helps you figure out the best ways to identify your ideal prospects, generate more leads, close more deals, and boost revenue.
However, you must carefully craft your business development strategy to avoid losses resulting from misguided attempts to gain new clients and business opportunities.
A simple business development plan is far more effective than having several complex strategies in the hopes of seeing positive results. When implemented correctly, fewer elements always produce better results.
Learn about HubSpot's sales tools that are built to help your business build for growth.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What qualifications do you need for business development.
Most companies prefer candidates who have a Bachelor's degree in marketing, business, or a related field. They also want individuals with basic knowledge of CRM software and MS Office and an understanding of different markets and marketing strategies.
Whatis a business development executive?
A business development executive oversees the business development process within the company to promote its long-term growth. This position is ideal for people who enjoy working as part of a corporate management team.
You can do well as a business development executive if you have a knack for numbers and sales strategies, strong communication and interpersonal skills, and work well under pressure.
What is the difference between marketing and business development?
A marketing department focuses on the consumer, their journey from awareness to loyalty, and the strategies used to get them there.
Business development, however, focuses on the tasks and processes that'll increase revenue opportunities.
Business Development Plan: What is it & How to Create a Perfect One?
As a business owner, you obviously want to expand your business and increase your network.
But the question is, how to get started on it?
It’s simple! A business development plan is the first step you need to take.
A business development plan is much more than a piece of document. It is what defines your current positioning and helps you devise and implement a strategic plan.
That, in turn, doesn’t just bring in sales, but also goodwill and long-term relations with your stakeholders.
Having a business development plan is like living a healthy lifestyle – it will only offer great things in return but it does demand a little effort and time.
Whereas, a business with no such plan is bound to misplace time, energy and suppress its growth.
So, let’s learn a little more about this business-altering plan. Have a seat because we’re in for a ride!
What is a Business Development Plan? (Definition)
A business development plan is a detailed strategic plan on how to develop your business by implementing various ideas, tactics, and strategies that assist a company in scale better in every sphere of the business. This business development plan is what defines your current positioning and helps you devise and implement a strategic plan to grow in the market.
Simply put, it is the development of long-term value that a firm enjoys from all of its stakeholders.
A business development plan is a guide to bring everyone in the organization on the same page and get them to work towards a common goal.
For your firm to not just be complacent and make big leaps in the industry, a business development plan is a must!
Now, let’s see how this development plan is beneficial for your firm…
How Creating a Business Development Plan is Beneficial?
1. helps a business boost sales.
Profitability is one of the key metrics to judge a business’s growth.
Devising a strong business development plan helps a business to understand the markets that are the most profitable and which plans need to be pursued first.
Business development plans also involve documenting your firm’s revenue model and all of its pros and cons.
This way, you can better assess what changes need to be made in your revenue model and what other streams can be added to it.
Read more: Business Letters: Definition, Types, Format, and Tips!
2. Presents Expansion Opportunities
Expansion into new markets is always a coveted opportunity for any business.
Business development is all about staying ahead of current trends and curating plans to make the expansion possible.
It’s this research that makes you better acquainted with the best target audiences and customers for your firm and thus paving way for entering new, undiscovered markets.
3. A Better Understanding of your Consumer
As discussed earlier, a good business development plan requires assessing a company’s key demographic and target markets.
It acts from a customer’s perspective so that the business can bring forward a solution to a problem large enough to make profits.
This way the focus turns to the “customer is king” model which works to promote loyalty among customers towards your brand.
4. Improves Company Image
When business development plans are created, it’s not only the customers that are analyzed but also the daily working of the firm.
A business developer can use this information and assimilate it into marketing campaigns.
By keeping potential customers in mind, a firm can address how they strive daily to help satisfy the needs of their customers.
This makes for a solidified marketing campaign.
Now that we know why a business development plan is so crucial, let’s get to creating one!
How to Create a Business Development Plan? Follow these Steps!
Step 1. revisit your vision.
When you started your business, you probably asked yourself the “Where do you see yourself a year from now?” question.
Well, the business development plan starts right there! This is the focal point for all your inspiration.
It defines what YOU want from your firm, and that’s why it’s necessary to think-free and dream high.
Do you want to have a certain amount of sales?
Do you want to win the best local business award?
Whatever it is. Start right here. Articulating what you think you need to reap from your business is where it all starts.
It’ll serve as a baseline to get your firm going and keep you motivated despite hardships.
Step 2. Assessing your Business
The next step is to evaluate your own business.
Conduct SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, and what markets you can venture to.
Align these with your vision, check where you’re slacking and what you need to do to achieve your vision.
Acme, a beauty brand has the vision to become an international firm in the next two years. Let’s say that their strengths are:
- It resonates well with the customers.
- It is low cost and produces good profit margins.
Whereas their weaknesses are:
- Their marketing plans are not as effective as they need to be.
- Sales haven’t been picking off lately.
This way they can focus better on what needs to be tweaked and work towards attaining their vision.
Read more: Business Documents: Definition, Types, Benefits & Steps to Create Them!
Step 3. Define your Target Audience
“When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.”
Sums it all up, doesn’t it?
Without knowing your exact audience, there is no way to make it through in any industry.
A business development plan looks forward to deciphering this and assessing changing trends which helps you find the best-fit audience.
For more details on how you can identify your target audience, check out our blog:
(Linking our target audience blog here once it’s published online)
Step 4. Identify Competition
Knowing what other competitors offer will act as a great tool to understand how your business stands out.
Assess what pricing policies they use, what marketing campaigns they’ve undertaken, and what worked for them.
This way you can identify the best strategic moves for your business moving forward!
Read more: Business Report: What is it & How to Write it? (Steps & Format)
Step 5. Deliberate New Ideas
From the evaluation you’ve done so far, start setting priorities for what you think needs to change.
And then depending on those, start listing what all possible solutions could help solve them. Mention anything and everything you think would work.
For example: Let’s consider our previous example of Acme which was lacking on its marketing fronts. Now their possible solutions could be:
- Beginning a new marketing campaign.
- Hiring a campaign manager.
- Starting blogs or email marketing.
- Advertising in beauty magazines.
Thus, a firm can tackle all its issues by listing down every possible way to address them.
This brainstorming session may seem far-fetched but can lead you in the right direction and help you find the most accurate solution to your problems.
Step 6. Setting a Goal
Once you’ve devised a plan, it’s important to set dates.
For example: If you plan to begin a marketing campaign, make sure it gets started by a certain date and yields results by a certain date.
Only when you set smaller goals, you’ll be able to achieve your vision.
These goals will set you and the people in your firm into motion and serve as a reminder as to what’s expected of them.
Step 7. Assess your Business Plan
Although many firms overlook this part, it’s utterly crucial.
Now that you have implemented your plans and you’re ready to achieve your vision, it’s time to assess it.
Monitor the impacts and document all of it as you go, so when you get back to it a year from now, you’re more informed about what went wrong and what yielded shining results.
Read More: Reasons Why You Should Write a Business Plan!
Now you’ve not only created your development plan and assessed it, but you’ve also got ideas and insights into what you need to include in your next one!
Sounds like a concrete business documentation plan may require an even faster and smarter tool!
Well, it’s time for you to meet Bit.ai…
Bit.ai : The Ultimate Tool for Creating a Business Development Plan
We know that creating a business development plan is a complex task and it seems like it requires highly proficient documentation skills…
Well, let us break that bubble for you!
With Bit, you can make documentation fun and exciting and create the perfect business development plan for your business.
Working with Bit is very simple. With its integrated and interactive tools, it will take you much less time to create documents and you’ll get solid results too!
Don’t believe us? Check out some of its amazing features:
- Real-Time Collaboration: When working on a document as comprehensive as a business development plan, it’s obvious that you’ll be working with a team. At such times, it’s more important than ever to have a seamless collaboration experience! Bit facilitates exactly that with its real-time collaboration feature that lets you work on the same document together, comment to exchange ideas, and chat on the side.
- Fully Responsive Templates : Want to create an exciting development plan? Bit has you covered. With its fun and awesome templates that are fully responsive on every kind of device, you are bound to have an exhilarating experience!
- Sleek Editor: A business development plan is deemed to have corrections and require edits and thus a sleek editor like Bit’s would be a handy tool to allow interruption-free editing!
- Sharing and Permissions: A development plan is a vital plan for any business and only needs to be accessed by the right people. Bit supports features like document tracking, password protection, file access restrictions, etc. which help secure your document and lets you decide who gets to access it.
- Real-time Insights: With its trackable links, you can keep an eye on who viewed the plan, for how long, and more. Bit has you covered in offering accurate and powerful insights!
- Smart Workspaces: When working with multiple teams, it’s important that everything is as organized as possible. Bit’s smart Workspaces helps you do just that! Not only can you efficiently work with different departments and teams, but you can also store information of varied kinds in a neat manner.
- Content Library: Bit has a powerful content library that you can use to save and access all your images, videos, and other digital content you might need in your business development plan.
- Rich Media Integration: One of the ways to make your development plan more comprehendible and accessible is to make it interactive. Bit lets you do that! You can add videos, social media posts, music, cloud files, presentations, maps, charts, surveys/polls – basically every kind of rich media in your Bit doc.
- Client Portal: Bit provides a smooth experience for your team and clients to review your business development plans. All you need to do is invite clients into your workspaces by giving them ‘guest access’. The ‘guests’ aka your clients can get two types of access to the documents: comment-only and read-only.
Trust us when we say that no documentation tool out there is as robust as Bit. It even offers a free account for up to 5 users and we think you should absolutely give it a try!
Our team at bit.ai has created a few awesome business templates to make your business processes more efficient. Make sure to check them out before you go, y our team might need them!
- SWOT Analysis Template
- Business Proposal Template
- Business Plan Template
- Competitor Research Template
- Project Proposal Template
- Company Fact Sheet
- Executive Summary Template
- Operational Plan Template
- Pitch Deck Template
We know that everyone craves success but only very few have the patience and perseverance to reach that peak of glory.
A business development plan may not scream success when you’re creating it, but it’s a stepping stone that will take you there!
It will constantly acquaint your organization with its long-term goals, and help it strategize and execute its plans in a resounding manner.
We hope that we’ve gotten you all fired up to get started with your business development plan. Follow our steps and you’re ready to rock!
Don’t forget to let us know how it goes by tweeting us @bit_docs. We’d be happy to hear from you!
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How to Create a Business Development Plan (Insights From a Six-Figure Business)
I’ve grown three successful businesses in the last decade. A large part of my success is down to planning. This is certainly the case with Launch Space, where I offer SaaS consulting services.
Having a business development plan has helped me avoid a lot of silly rookie mistakes. It also kept me focused, which is important for business owners. In this guide, you will learn how to create an actionable business development plan you can apply to your business.
What is a Business Development Plan
A business development plan is a document that outlines the steps you will take to get your company off the ground. It’s a roadmap of sorts, but it also serves as a marketing tool and sales pitch for your product or service.
The business development plan should include everything from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. This can help you determine what kind of strategy needs to be implemented to achieve your goals. Having a plan in place should help you better assign your resources and set relevant Key Performance Indicators to track your progress.
How to Create a Business Development Plan
One of the first things I did before setting up Launch Space was design a business development plan to outline my goals. The following paragraphs will walk you through a tried and tested formula I used that you can follow. Let’s jump right in.
1. Analyze The Competition
Every great business plan is based on research. Well, most great plans are based on research. Ice cream at midnight is rarely planned, but it’s pretty great 😀
The first thing I do when creating a business development strategy is to review the company and consider the target market. You need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your company. It’s important to also review your competition, customer (creating a customer persona is handy), and review market trends.
Let me use Launch Space as my example. During my review of the competitive landscape for this business, I discovered some of the following:
- There are only a few agencies that provide specialized services for SaaS firms. Most agencies don’t have a clear target audience.
- Most SEO agencies lock clients into a 6 or 12-month contract. A long contract is a big commitment for a company. For example, $4k a month is a $48k contract.
- Many clients don’t see a return on investment from working with an agency. Trust in the agency is a big issue for clients.
- Most SEO agencies don’t promote their services through guest posting on authority sites.
You will gain many useful insights by researching your niche and conducting competitive intelligence before you make a plan. The research is a chance to test your assumptions, and gain insights.
2. Identify Your Business Opportunities
At the end of the research phase of your business development plan, you need to review the information you gathered about your company, the target market, and your customer base. Spend time analyzing all the data. You will use these insights to create your business development plan.
For Launch Space, my goal was to find ways to do things that are disruptive and help me stand out. I created a table. On one side I listed my insights. On the other side, I listed the opportunities for my business.
Your research helps you understand the market. You can then use those insights to identify business opportunities and define your competitive advantages.
For example, through my research, I learned that one of the biggest issues agencies have is trust. They naturally don’t trust an agency they have never met. Skipping a contract would allow me to differentiate myself from the competition. In fact, I made the fact you don’t need to sign a contract key part of my sales copy . You can see this on the homepage I created with a landing page builder .
When I made my business plan, I didn’t have a company. If I had a company with lots of customers, I’d still do the same type of research. However, I’d spend more time reviewing company operations. I’d look at what are the main drivers of growth for the company. I’d also consider what are the company’s biggest problems.
3. How to Set Your Business Development Goals
The next stage of business development is to set targets. Your targets help you understand what you want to achieve and measure your success. You should make sure your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Based.
When I created my business plan for Launch Space, I set a single company goal. The goal was ambitious and easy to understand.
I then created sub-goals for the different parts of your business. So for example, for my website, I started with the following goal.
- Generate $10k in monthly recurring revenue
That’s a pretty easy goal to understand. I then thought about how to achieve that target. My sub-goals look like this.
- Sales Goal: Secure 1 new client each month from cold outreach
- Delivery: Every two months get 1 client to increase their order
- Human Resources: Hire 1 full-time member of staff
I then looked at the things I would need to do to achieve each sub-goal.
For example, if I was to get one new client a month I would need to meet with five potential clients. I estimated that to secure those meetings I would need to cold email 200 businesses a week. Those were my activities for that goal.
Those activities are quantifiable. I can tell you if I sent 200 emails in a month. Businesses like Google have these sorts of systems in place to measure targets. It helps keep people accountable and provides management with a way to check progress.
Setting my goals helped me develop a strategic plan. That company target is the common goal. You can use this goal to align the operations of your sales team, operations team, and marketing team.
4. Create Standard Operating Procedures
After you have finished strategizing you need to implement your business development goals. There are too many variables in place for me to provide you with many useful insights for this part of the process.
However, there is one business development tip I can share…
As you work on tasks, create Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Standard Operating Procedures are a set of rules for how the company operates.
Your SOP should build on your business development plan. For example, I have created a whole set of SOP for things like candidate sourcing and sales outreach.
I started by setting sales targets for the company with SMART goals . I then looked at how I’d achieve those goals. Then, I tested my approach. Once I found a system that worked, I broke the job down into chunks.
I listed out all of the things I needed to do to complete the task. I then gave this information to an employee. They did the work.
Systemizing your business in this way has multiple benefits. It helps you:
- Reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a task
- Keep information when a person leaves the company, which speeds up the transition
- Ensure vital tasks get completed every month
Keep in mind that your business strategy is not fixed. As a business developer, make sure to periodically review your business development strategy. Analyze what is working and what is not, then adapt your strategy.
5. Review Your Progress
The final stage of your business development strategy is the review stage. This is where you put a date in the diary and say, “in three months’ time we should be…”
Then, you can review progress against your goals.
The purpose of these reviews is to see how you’ve done against your business goals. Just as importantly, a review is a chance to adjust your business plan to make sure that it aligns with what you’re trying to accomplish.
You can incorporate things like a SWOT analysis in your quarterly or annual review. Periodic reviews help you assess your progress, identify weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
During a review, you should assess the validity of your business goals. Make sure they are still relevant to your company. If they are, great. If not, change your business development goals.
Look at the activities in your business that make the most money. For example, at Launch Space I’m making around:
- SEO Consulting work = $20k+
- Private training = $3k
- Affiliate marketing = $0.5k
It’s easy to see what makes the company the most money.
I then look at how I can maximize growth through my SEO consulting work over a quarter. Periodic reviews help me ensure my business development strategy aligns with the drivers of company growth.
You should also review the problems the company is facing. For example, as Launch Space grows I often find myself spending a lot of time doing a job that doesn’t help the company scale.
I don’t want to get stuck managing the day-to-day tasks that don’t add value to my business. It’s a pain point.
When I get stuck in a task, I try to find a way to free up my time. Normally that involves, creating SOP and then outsourcing the work.
In this guide, I provided you with an example of my business development strategy. I showed you how I put together a business strategy that allowed me to scale a marketing agency from a side hustle to a six-figure business in less than 12 months.
I hope you’ve found this article interesting. If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments below.
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About the author
I'm the founder of Launch Space. We work with global companies helping them scale lead generation through SEO and content marketing. Head over to the homepage to find out more.
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The Ultimate Guide to Business Development and How It Can Help Your Company Grow
Discover the importance of business development and how the process can help your business grow better.
FREE SALES PLAN TEMPLATE
Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
Imagine working for a company without any employees dedicated to growing and developing the business.
Nobody to challenge you to improve or tell you about new business opportunities, changes in the market, what your competition is up to, or how you can attract your target audience more effectively.
This would make it pretty hard to succeed, don’t you think?
That’s why companies establish business development practices and hire employees to focus on these tasks (among others) to help them grow.
Business Development Reps
Business Development Ideas
Business development process, business development plan.
Business development is the process of implementing strategies and opportunities across your organization to promote growth and boost revenue.
It involves pursuing opportunities to help your business grow, identifying new prospects, and converting more leads into customers. Business development is closely tied to sales — business development teams and representatives are almost always a part of the greater sales org.
Although business development is closely related to sales, it’s important to note what makes them different.
Business Development vs. Sales
As mentioned, business development lives on the greater sales team yet it serves a different function than typical sales work and responsibilities.
Business development is a process that helps your company establish and maintain relationships with prospects, learn about your buyer’s personas, increase brand awareness, and seek new opportunities to promote growth.
In contrast, sales teams sell your product or service to customers and work to convert leads into customers. Business development-related work simplifies the work of a salesperson or sales manager.
Let’s take a closer look at what business development representatives — the people responsible for carrying out the various business development tasks — do next.
Business Development Representative
Business development representatives (BDRs) seek out and establish new strategies, tactics, targets, employees, and prospects for your business. The goal of all BDRs is to find ways to grow and provide long-term value for the business.
Possessing the necessary business development skills and experience will help your BDRs achieve all of their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.
Business Development Representative Responsibilities
Although some BDR responsibilities may change over time and as your business grows, the following list will provide you with a solid understanding of typical BDR tasks.
1. Qualify leads.
BDRs must qualify leads and pinpoint ideal prospects to determine who they'll sell to. Typically, leads are qualified through calls, emails, web forms, and social media.
The key to qualifying leads (leads who are assigned to the BDRs as well as leads BDRs identify themselves) is to consider their needs and then determine whether or not your product or software could be a solution for them.
2. Identify and communicate with prospects.
By qualifying leads and searching for people who fit your buyer personas, BDRs will identify ideal prospects. They can communicate with those prospects directly to learn more about their needs and pain points.
This way, BDRs can determine whether or not the prospect will really benefit from your product or service by becoming a customer. This is important because it increases the potential of improved customer loyalty and retention.
Once the BDRs have identified ideal prospects, those prospects can be passed along to a sales rep on the team (or sales manager, if necessary) who can nurture them into making a deal.
3. Proactively seek new business opportunities.
Proactively seeking new opportunities — whether that’s in terms of the product line, markets, prospects, or brand awareness — is an important part of your business’s success. BDRs work to find new business opportunities through networking, researching your competition, and talking to prospects and current customers.
If a new business opportunity is identified, BDRs should schedule marketing assessments and discovery meetings with the sales reps on the team so they can all assess whether or not there’s potential for a deal.
4. Stay up-to-date on competition and new market trends.
It’s important to stay up-to-date on your competition’s strategies, products, and target audience as well as any new market and industry trends.
This will allow you to more effectively identify ideal prospects. It also helps your business prepare for any shifts in the market that could lead to the need for a new approach to qualifying leads and attracting your target audience.
5. Report to salespeople and development managers.
As we reviewed, at most companies, BDRs report to sales reps and sales managers. BDRS must communicate with these higher-ups for multiple reasons such as discussing lead qualification strategies and how to get prospects in touch with sales reps to nurture them into customers.
BDRs also have to report their findings (such as business opportunities and market trends) to sales reps and managers. Relaying this information and collaborating with sales reps and managers to develop and/or update appropriate strategies for your business and audience is critical to your success as an organization.
6. Promote satisfaction and loyalty.
A BDR's interaction with a prospect might be the very first interaction that prospect ever has with your business. So, creating a great first impression right off the bat is crucial to promote interest early on.
Whether a BDR is working to qualify the lead, learn more about the prospect and their needs, or find the right sales rep to work on a deal with them, their interactions with all of your prospects matter.
Once a BDR researches the prospect or begins interacting with them, ensure they tailor all communication towards the prospect. Customizing all content sent their way shows them they’re being listened to and cared for. These actions are professional and leave a strong impression.
In addition to understanding how BDRs help you grow, business development ideas are another powerful way to engage prospects and identify new business opportunities. Let’s take a look.
- Innovate the way you network.
- Offer consultations.
- Provide sales demos for prospects and leads.
- Nurture prospects.
- Provide prospects with several types of content.
- Communicate with marketing.
- Invest in your website.
- Push your employees to expand and refine their skills.
Business development ideas are tactics you can implement to positively impact your company in a multitude of different ways. They can help you identify ideal prospects, network more effectively, improve brand awareness, and uncover new opportunities.
The following tactics are here to get you started — every business and team is different, meaning these ideas may or may not be suited for your specific situation. (So, feel free to modify the list!)
1. Innovate the way you network.
It’s no secret cold calls are less effective than they once were. Instead, innovate the way you network by establishing strong relationships with your prospects. You can do this by meeting with them in person at conferences, trade shows, or events related to your industry.
Browse your online networks including LinkedIn and other social sites for potential customers, too. Reach out to the people who sign up for your email subscription or complete other forms on your site.
2. Offer consultations.
Offer consultations and assessments for prospects. Talking about the ways your product or service applies to their needs will help prospects decide whether or not they’ll convert.
In contrast, consultations and assessments may also bring to light the ways a prospect is not an ideal fit for your product (which is equally as valuable since it prevents you from wasting any time nurturing them or having to deal with an unsatisfied customer down the road).
3. Provide sales demos for prospects and leads.
Provide your prospects and leads with sales demos so they can see how your product or service works in action. Ensure these demos are customized to show a prospect or lead how your product solves their challenge. You can share these demos in person, over email, on your website, or via video chat.
4. Nurture prospects.
Remember to nurture your prospects, whether it’s by phone call, email, meeting, or another mode of communication. The point of lead nurturing is to provide any information needed about your product or service so your prospects can decide whether or not they want to make a purchase.
By nurturing your leads , you’ll be able to tailor the content regarding your brand and product so your leads can better understand how your product will solve their specific pain points. You’ll also be able to show your support for the prospect and ensure they feel heard and understood by your company.
5. Provide prospects with several types of content.
Provide your prospects with different content types such as blogs, videos, and social media posts so they can learn more about your brand and product or service.
It’s best to meet your prospects where they are and provide the content they prefer to read or watch. Ensure all of this content is downloadable and/or shareable so prospects can send it to their team members to show them why your solution is their best option.
6. Communicate with marketing.
Although business development lives in the sales department, that doesn’t mean internal business development work only involves other members of the sales team. Host regular meetings and maintain open lines of communication with the departments at your company that impact your ability to succeed such as marketing and product development.
Think about it this way: Marketing creates content and campaigns for your target audience about how your product or service resolves their challenges. So, why wouldn’t you want to talk to them about the blogs, campaigns, social media posts, and website content they’re creating for the people you’re selling to?
Your reps and BDRs can share any content the marketing team creates directly with prospects to help them convert, as well as inform the marketing team of any content they feel is missing for prospects. If there are projects or campaigns out of your scope, you can opt to hire a marketing agency to help fill the void. But, like your marketing team, they'll need to understand your product and how to connect with your target audience.
7. Invest in your website.
You never get a second chance at a first impression, and in many cases, your website is exactly that — your prospects' first impression of your brand. So, it serves you to make it as accessible, navigable, visible, and helpful as possible.
Taking strides like making your site visually engaging, connecting your social media profiles, optimizing your site for search engines, linking to collateral like sales content , and maintaining an active blog can go a long way when conducting business development.
8. Push your employees to expand and refine their skills and knowledge.
Business development is never stagnant. Strategy, technology, and market conditions are all constantly evolving — so you're best off having your employees stay abreast of these trends.
Anyone involved in your business development should be liable to develop new skills as needed. If your organization adopts any sort of new technology, thoroughly train anyone the change touches on how to use it.
Encourage your employees to learn more about both the nuances of their field and the industries they serve. Is artificial intelligence starting to shift the dynamics of a specific industry? If so, make the BDRs who serve that market learn all they can about how it might change the nature of the companies they interact with.
A business development process is the combination of steps your business takes to grow effectively, boost revenue, improve relationships with leads, and more. These steps are what your business development team will work on every day. It includes everything related to delighting customers along each part of the buyer's journey.
By working through your business development process, your team will have a strong understanding of your organization-wide goals, sales targets, current business situation, who your target audience members are, and more.
How to Do Business Development
- Conduct extensive market research.
- Raise visibility and awareness.
- Promote thought leadership.
- Conduct outreach.
- Qualify leads to pass off to sales.
- Provide exemplary customer service.
- Develop sales content from success stories.
1. Conduct extensive market research.
Successful business development rests, in large part, on you understanding your market and target personas. If you have no idea who you're trying to sell to and the state of the market they comprise, you can't successfully implement any other point on this list.
Study and survey your current customers to see who tends to buy from you. Look into your competition to get a feel for where you fit into your broader market. And take any other strides to get a better feel for the "who" behind your successful sales — without that intel, you'll never be able to shape the "how" side of your business development.
2. Raise visibility and awareness.
Business development, as a broader practice, extends beyond your sales org — your marketing department can also play a central role in the process. You can't source a base of potential customers if no one knows who you are.
Actions like constructing an effective website, investing in paid advertising, leveraging social profiles, participating in co-marketing partnerships with industry peers, and maintaining an active blog can all go a long way in supporting successful business development.
3. Promote thought leadership.
This point is sort of an extension of the one above. Establishing credibility is one of the more important steps you can take when doing business development. You can't just stop with prospects knowing who you are — they need to trust you if you're ever going to earn their business.
Publishing in-depth, industry-specific blog content is one way to get there — if you can show that you have a firm grasp on every aspect of your field, you can frame yourself as a reliable, knowledgeable resource for your customers. That kind of trust often translates to sales, down the line. Other media like webinars, white papers, and video content can also help your case.
4. Conduct outreach.
Actively reaching out to prospects is one of the most crucial, traditional elements of business development. You need to touch base with prospects if you're going to vet them and ultimately convert them to qualified leads.
This step is typically supported by extensive research on individual prospects, paired with contacting warm and cold leads proactively but not aggressively. BDRs typically shoulder this responsibility — and for many people, it's the aspect of the process most closely associated with the term "business development."
5. Qualify leads.
Once your BDRs have connected with leads, they need to qualify them to determine their viability and understand whether they're worth the sales org's time and effort. That generally entails having conversations with leads and asking the right qualifying questions to reveal their fit for your product or service.
This is one of the most pivotal moments in the business development process — in some respects, it could be considered its last step. Successfully executing this point typically means the process, as a whole, has worked.
6. Provide exemplary customer service.
Business development is an ongoing process that involves virtually every side of your business in some capacity — and customer service is no exception. Your service org needs to keep current customers happy to generate positive word of mouth and bolster your company's reputation. That kind of effort offers you credibility and can generate referrals, making business development more straightforward and effective.
7. Develop sales content from success stories.
Another part of business development is translating customer satisfaction into actionable, promotable sales content — pointed, product-specific content that's used to generate sales. While marketing content is used for thought leadership and garnering general interest, sales content is used to appeal to potential buyers, looking into your company specifically.
Sales content can come in a variety of forms, including case studies and testimonials — two mediums that lean heavily on your current customer base. When you use customers' experiences to generate interest in your business, your business development efforts essentially come full circle.
By compiling these elements of business development and sharing them among your team, you create an actionable business development strategy or plan that encourages and promotes success and growth. Let's review the different steps involved in creating your business development plan next.
A business development plan is a strategy your team can refer to while working to achieve growth-related goals. Sales managers typically create the business development plan for BDRs to work on.
The purpose of a business development plan (or strategy) is to set realistic goals and targets that allow your reps to grow the business, close more deals, identify prospects, align members of the sales team (and other teams, company-wide), and convert more leads.
1. Craft an elevator pitch.
You can simplify any initial communication with prospects by having an elevator pitch ready to go. This elevator pitch should explain your company’s mission and how your product or service can solve the needs of your target audience. Your elevator pitch should grab the attention of prospects and leads — and get them excited to learn more about what you offer.
Additionally, you can help your team determine which elevator pitches used by both BDRs and reps are most successful in converting leads and then document it in your greater strategy so everyone has access to it.
2. Set SMART goals.
Set SMART goals for your strategy — meaning, make sure your targets are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. By creating SMART goals for your business development plan, you’ll be able to ensure these goals are aligned with those of your entire company.
For example, if one of your goals is to increase your number of identified qualified leads this quarter by 5% , make the goal specific by determining the type of prospects you’ll focus on and how you’ll identify them.
Then, decide how you’ll measure your success — perhaps by measuring the number of these prospects who then go on to talk with a sales rep to learn more about the product or service.
You determine this goal is attainable due to the fact you increased your number of qualified leads last quarter by 3%. 5% isn’t too much of a leap.
Your goal is relevant because you know it’ll help your business grow — it pushes you to make a greater impact on your team by contributing to the sales team’s ability to close more deals and boost revenue. Lastly, it’s timely because you’ve set this goal for the quarter.
3. Conduct a SWOT analysis.
As mentioned above, part of any role in business development is to stay up-to-date on market and industry trends and understand your competition. This is where SWOT analysis comes in handy — SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats . The key to using SWOT analysis correctly is to have a clear goal in mind first.
For example, if your goal is to determine the best way to handle outreach with prospects , you can begin talking to your BDRs, sales reps, sales managers, and current customers about what works best for them.
Next, think about your strengths — what does your business do well? Maybe you have a large support team that provides helpful onboarding for new customers. Or you have several remote reps who can meet face-to-face with prospects in their desired location.
(You might have multiple strengths that make you stand out, so don’t be afraid to list them all and which ones have the greatest impact on your customers.)
Now, think about your weaknesses . Are your product’s limited offerings requiring some leads to consider your competition’s product in addition to yours? Is the need for your product growing faster than your production, or faster than you’re able to establish a large customer support team to assist your customers?
Onto your business opportunities . Think about where you’re going as a business and what you know you can accomplish. For example, maybe your business has recently partnered with another company that can help you boost brand awareness and attract a much broader base of leads and customers.
Lastly, who are your threats ? Think about your current competition — who’s producing a product or service like yours and is attracting a similar target audience? Who could become your competition in the future — is there a market gap that another company (new or established) could identify the need for and begin selling?
SWOT analysis allows you to identify the ways your company can create opportunities to grow and expand. It also helps how you establish new processes to address any weaknesses or threats such as identifying more qualified leads, efficiently converting prospects into customers, and shortening the sales cycle.
4. Determine how you’ll measure success.
Depending on the SMART goals you created and the SWOT analysis you performed, you’ll also need to decide how you’re going to measure your business development success.
Here are some examples of common business development KPIs that can help you analyze your efforts:
- Company growth
- Changes in revenue
- Lead conversion rate
- Leads generated per month/ quarter/ predetermined time
- Prospect and customer satisfaction
- Pipeline value
5. Set a budget.
Depending on the type of business development goals you set for the team, you may determine you need to set a budget. Consider your resources, the cost of any previous business development strategies you’ve developed, and other important operational line items (what you need, who’s involved, etc.).
Collaborate with the greater team to determine the amount you’re willing to, and need to, spend on business development to get the process started at your company.
6. Always keep your target audience in mind.
Whatever it is you’re working towards, keep your target audience and ideal prospects in mind. Assess their needs and understand exactly how your business and product or service will meet their pain points.
After all, this audience is the group who is most likely to buy your product. Make sure your plan addresses them and their needs so your team can convert more of them and grow your business.
7. Choose an outreach strategy.
As we’ve reviewed above, a major component of business development is finding new prospects and potential customers. To find new prospects, you’ll need to decide how you’ll perform outreach, or connect with these potential customers. Here are some ideas:
- Use referrals
- Upsell and cross-sell
- Sponsorship and advertisement
Also, review any expectations or guardrails related to outreach reps are held to so your business has only professional and on-brand interactions with prospects.
Congrats! You’ve just completed your business development plan — with your strategy and ideas, your business will be growing in no time.
Business Development Resources
1. hubspot sales hub.
Best for Businesses Interested in a Wide-Reaching, One-Stop Solution
HubSpot Sales Hub includes a suite of resources that enable more focused, effective business development. Features like email templates and email tracking lend themselves to well-targeted, productive prospecting.
Its conversational intelligence capabilities can provide invaluable insight into the "why" behind your BDRs' overall performance — letting you pinpoint the strengths and flaws in key business development elements like your messaging and pain point assessments.
Sales Hub is a dynamic solution that covers a lot of bases for your sales org — including several beyond business development. But that wide range of applications doesn't undermine its utility for BDRs and their managers. If you're looking for a solution that addresses almost every component of successful business development, consider investing in HubSpot Sales Hub.
Best for Businesses Interested in Keeping BDRs and Top-of-Funnel Activities on Track
Bloobirds is a sales engagement and playbook platform that guides SDRs and closing reps to convert more prospects into customers. It partners with your existing CRM — sitting on top of it to make it more functional for the sales team.
It eliminates admin tasks, makes selling more intuitive, and makes sure reps follow best plays with the in-app playbook's help. Bloobirds helps sales teams flow through their pipeline — it also collects crucial data and creates competitive insights.
Best for Businesses Struggling to Generate High-Potential Leads
Leadfeeder is a powerful resource for enhancing a central element of any business development efforts — lead generation The platform helps you identify high-potential leads by automatically analyzing your website traffic.
The software removes ISP traffic to pin down visitors' companies and gauge interest. It also lets you create behavioral and demographic filters for better-informed, more productive lead segmentation.
Successful business development often leans, in large part, on your ability to generate high-quality leads — so if you're interested in effectively sourcing those contacts, you'll need to invest in some sort of lead generation software. Leadfeeder is as good a place as any to start.
Best for Businesses Looking for a Free Way to Source Leads
LinkedIn is one of the most prominent, practical, effective resources for certain key elements of the business development process — namely, prospecting. The value behind leveraging social media for top-of-funnel sales activities isn't exactly some well-kept secret.
Plenty of business development professionals already use channels like LinkedIn to source, screen, and connect with potential leads. Strides like scrolling through skill endorsements, using alumni searches, and engaging with users who have looked at your posts are all excellent ways to find interested prospects and enhance your business development efforts.
Business Development Helps You Grow Better
Business development is a crucial part of any successful company. It’s how you determine the best ways to boost revenue, identify your ideal prospects, generate more leads, and close more deals.
Think about how you can make a strong business development plan and ensure you have the right group of business development reps so you can begin growing your business today.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in July, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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- A Game-Changing Business Development Strategy to Achieve Consistent Growth
Your business development strategy can be key to the success or failure of your firm. In this post, we’ll explore how to create a strategy and associated plan that can propel an individual, a practice or an entire firm to new levels of growth and profitability.
Business Development Defined
Business development (BD) is the process that is used to identify, nurture and acquire new clients and business opportunities to drive growth and profitability. A business development strategy is a document that describes the strategy you will use to accomplish that goal.
The scope of business development can be wide ranging and vary a lot from organization to organization. Consider the model of how professional services organizations get new business shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: The three stages of the business development funnel
The first two stages of the model, Attracting Prospects and Build Engagement, are traditional marketing functions. The final stage, Turning Opportunities into Clients, is a traditional sales function. In the traditional role, business development would be looking for new channels of distribution or marketing partners.
But roles are changing and naming conventions evolve. In today’s world many firms refer to the entire marketing and sales process as business development. I know, it can be confusing. So let’s sort it out a bit.
Business Development vs. Marketing
Marketing is the process of determining which products and services you will offer to which target audiences, at what price. It also addresses how you will position and promote your firm and it’s offerings in the competitive marketplace. The result of all this activity should be an increasing awareness of your firm among your target audience — and a stronger flow of qualified leads and opportunities.
Download the Business Development Guide
Historically, business development has been a subset of the marketing function that was focused on acquiring new marketing or distribution relationships and channels. While this role still exists in many companies, the business development title has become interchangeable with many marketing and sales functions.
Business Development vs. Sales
Sales is the task of converting leads or opportunities into new clients. Business development is a broader term that encompasses many activities beyond the sales function. And while there is some overlap, most traditional BD roles are only lightly involved in closing new clients.
Business development is often confused with sales. This is not too surprising because many people who are clearly in sales have taken to using the title of Business Developer . Presumably this is done because the organization believes that the BD designation avoids some possible stigma associated with sales.
Nowhere is this practice more prevalent than in professional services. Accountants, lawyers and strategy consultants do not want to be seen as “pushy sales people.” This titular bias is firmly rooted despite the fact that developing new business is an important role of most senior members of professional services firms.
Since so many clients want to meet and get to know the professionals they will be working with, the Seller-doer role is well established in many firms. The preference for Seller-doers also tends to discourage firms from fielding a full-time sales force.
As an alternative approach to leveraging fee-earners’ time, some firms have one or more Business Developers on staff. In the professional services context, these folks are often involved in lead generation and qualification, as well as supporting the Seller-doers in their efforts to close new clients. In other organizational contexts, this role might be thought of as a sales support role.
The result of this confusing picture is that many professional services firms call sales “business development” and make it part of every senior professional’s role. They may also include some marketing functions, such as lead generation and lead nurturing, into the professional’s BD responsibilities.
It is this expanded role, where business development encompasses the full range of lead generation, nurturing and sales tasks, which we will concentrate on in this post.
See also: Heller Consulting Case Story
Business Development Examples
To be clear on what this role entails, let’s consider this business development example:
Bethany is the Director of Business Development at a fictional mid-sized architecture firm. She is not an architect herself. Nor is she involved with any aspect of delivering the projects that the firm has signed. Instead, her role is exclusively focused on signing new business for her firm—with either new clients or existing ones.
For new clients, Bethany spends much of her time responding to RFPs, communicating directly with inbound leads generated by the marketing/sales enablement team, and nurturing potential clients that she met at a recent industry conference. Bethany also collaborates with the marketing team in the development of new materials she needs to sell to new accounts.
When it comes to existing accounts, Bethany also has a role. She meets monthly with delivery teams to understand whether current client projects are on scope or if change orders are needed. Moreover, she maintains a relationship with key stakeholders of her firm’s clients. If another opportunity for more work opens, she knows that her relationship with the client is an important component to that potential deal.
In this example, Bethany is the primary driver of business development but that does not mean she is doing this alone. Imagine she has a colleague Greg who is a lead architect at the firm. While Greg’s first focus is delivering for his clients, business development—and even marketing—should still be a part of his professional life. Perhaps Greg attends an industry conference with Bethany, he as a speaker and expert and her as the primary networker. The business development dynamic should not end with Bethany and should permeate the whole organization.
In this business development example, you can see that the range of roles and responsibilities is wide. This is why it is essential for business development to not be ad hoc, but done strategically. Let’s talk about that now.
Strategic Business Development
Not all business development is of equal impact. In fact a lot of the activities of many professionals are very opportunistic and tactical in nature.This is especially true with many seller-doers.
Caught between the pressures of client work and an urgent need for new business they cast about for something quick and easy that will produce short term results. Of course this is no real strategy at all.
Strategic business development is the alignment of business development processes and procedures with your firm’s strategic business goals. The role of strategic business development is to acquire ideal clients for your highest priority services using brand promises that you can deliver upon.
Deciding which targets to pursue and strategies to employ to develop new business is actually a high stakes decision. A good strategy, well implemented, can drive high levels of growth and profitability. A faulty strategy can stymie growth and frustrate valuable talent.
Yet many firms falter at this critical step. They rely on habit, anecdotes and fads — or worse still, “this is how we have always done it.” In a later section we’ll cover how to develop your strategic business development plan. But first we’ll cover some of the strategies that may go into that plan.
Top Business Development Strategies
Let’s look at some of the most common business development strategies and how they stack up with today’s buyers .
Networking is probably the most universally used business development strategy. It’s built on the theory that professional services buying decisions are rooted in relationships, and the best way to develop new relationships is through face-to-face networking.
It certainly is true that many relationships do develop in that way. And if you are networking with your target audience, you can develop new business. But there are limitations. Today’s buyers are very time pressured, and networking is time consuming. It can be very expensive, if you consider travel and time away from the office.
Newer digital networking techniques can help on the cost and time front. But even social media requires an investment of time and attention.
The close relative of networking, referrals are often seen as the mechanism that turns networking and client satisfaction into new business. You establish a relationship, and that person refers new business to you. Satisfied clients do the same.
Clearly, referrals do happen, and many firms get most or all of their business from them. But referrals are passive. They rely on your clients and contacts to identify good prospects for your services and make a referral at the right time.
The problem is referral sources often do not know the full range of how you can help a client. So many referrals are poorly matched to your capabilities. Other well-matched referrals go unmade because your referral source fails to recognize a great prospect when they see one. Finally, many prospects that might be good clients rule out your firm before even talking with you. One recent study puts the number at over 50%.
Importantly, there are new digital strategies that can accelerate referrals. Making your specific expertise more visible is the key. This allows people to make better referrals and increases your referral base beyond clients and a few business contacts.
Learn More: Referral Marketing Course
Sponsorships and Advertising
Can you develop new business directly by sponsoring events and advertising? It would solve a lot of problems if it works. No more trying to get time from fully utilized billable professionals.
Unfortunately, the results on this front are not very encouraging. Studies have shown that traditional advertising is actually associated with slower growth. Only when advertising is combined with other techniques, such as speaking at an event, do these techniques bear fruit.
The most promising advertising strategy seems to be well-targeted digital advertising. This allows firms to get their messages and offers in front of the right people at a lower cost.
Outbound Telephone and Mail
Professional services firms have been using phone calls and mail to directly target potential clients for decades. Target the right firms and roles with a relevant message and you would expect to find new opportunities that can be developed into clients.
There are a couple of key challenges with these strategies. First they are relatively expensive, so they need to be just right to be effective. Second, if you don’t catch the prospect at the right time, your offer may have no appeal relevance — and consequently, no impact on business development.
The key is to have a very appealing offer delivered to a very qualified and responsive list. It’s not easy to get this combination right.
Thought Leadership and Content Marketing
Here, the strategy is to make your expertise visible to potential buyers and referral sources. This is accomplished through writing, speaking or publishing content that demonstrates your expertise and how it can be applied to solve client problems.
Books, articles and speaking engagements have long been staples of professional services business development strategy. Many high visibility experts have built their practices and firms upon this strategy. It often takes a good part of a career to execute this approach.
But changing times and technology have reshaped this strategy. With the onset of digital communication it is now easier and much faster to establish your expertise with a target market. Search engines have leveled the playing field so that relatively unknown individuals and firms can become known even outside their physical region. Webinars have democratized public speaking, and blogs and websites give every firm a 24/7 presence. Add in video and social media and the budding expert can access a vastly expanded marketplace.
But these developments also open firms to much greater competition as well. You may find yourself competing with specialists whom you were never aware of. The impact is to raise the stakes on your business development strategy.
It is common to combine different business development strategies. For example, networking and referrals are frequently used together. And on one level, a combined strategy makes perfect sense. The strength of one strategy can shore up the weakness of another.
But there is a hidden danger. For a strategy to perform at its peak, it must be fully implemented. There is a danger that by attempting to execute too many different strategies you will never completely implement any of them.
Good intentions, no matter how ambitious, are of little real business development value. Under-investment, lack of follow through and inconsistent effort are the bane of effective business development.
It is far more effective to fully implement a simple strategy than to dabble in a complex one. Fewer elements, competently implemented, produce better results.
Next, we turn our attention to the tactics used to implement a high-level strategy. But first there is a bit of confusion to clear up.
Business Development Strategy Vs. Tactics
The line between strategy and tactics is not always clear. For example, you can think of networking as an overall business development strategy or as a tactic to enhance the impact of a thought leadership strategy. Confusing to be sure.
From our perspective, the distinction is around focus and intent. If networking is your business development strategy all your focus should be on making the networking more effective and efficient. You will select tactics that are aimed at making networking more powerful or easier. You may try out another marketing technique and drop it if it does not help you implement your networking strategy.
On the other hand, if networking is simply one of many tactics, your decision to use it will depend on whether it supports your larger strategy. Tactics and techniques can be tested and easily changed. Strategy, on the other hand, is a considered choice and does not change from day to day or week to week.
10 Most Effective Business Development Tactics
Which business development tactics are most effective? To find out, we recently conducted a study that looked at over 1000 professional services firms. The research identified those firms that were growing at greater than a 20% compound annual growth rate over a three-year period.
These High Growth firms were compared to firms in the same industry that did not grow over the same time period. We then examined which business development tactics were employed by each group and which provided the most impact.
The result is a list of the ten most impactful tactics employed by the High Growth firms:
- Outbound sales calls from internal teams
- Providing assessments and/or consultations
- Speaking at targeted conferences or events
- Live product/service demonstrations
- Presenting in educational webinars
- Pursuing industry award opportunities
- Business development materials
- Email marketing campaigns
- Conducting and publishing original research
- Networking at targeted conferences or events
There are a couple of key observations about these growth tactics. First, these techniques can be employed in service of different business development strategies. For example number three on the list, speaking at targeted conferences or events, can easily support a networking or a thought leadership strategy.
The other observation is that the top tactics include a mix of both digital and traditional techniques. As we will see when we develop your plan, having a healthy mix of digital and traditional techniques tends to increase the impact of your strategy.
Business Development Skills
Now that we have identified the key business development strategies and tactics, it is time to consider the business development skills your team will need. Business development skills require a broad range of technical skills but there are some that make a difference.
When the Hinge Research Institute studied marketing and business development skills in our annual High Growth Study , we found that the firms who grow faster have a skill advantage within their marketing and business development teams.
Let’s dive into the top three skills from this list.
The number one business development skill high growth firms enjoy are strong project management skills. And for experienced business development specialists, this makes good sense. Staying organized, accurately tracking business development activity, and managing accounts are essential for building and maintaining strong business relationships. Activities like the proposal development see business development team resources manage and produce a strong proposal quickly, including the right stakeholders, and without sacrificing quality.
The next most important skill is simplifying complex concepts. In business development conversations, it is vital that team members are strong communicators of your firm’s service offerings and capabilities. Those who are able to take a comlex scope of work and communicate it in a way that a potential buyer can understand. Speaking in industry jargon or overly complicated charts is a fast way to see a business lead become unresponsive. Therefore, it is no surprise to see that the fastest growing professional services firms have an advantage in communicating complex information in a way that buyers understand.
The third most important business development skill is face-to-face networking. Despite the hiatus of many in-person events, high growth firms still reported that strong networking skills are a top skill enjoyed by their firms. Strong face-to-face networking skills are as much of an art as it is a science. While some can be more charismatic than others, everyone can prepare their teams with the resources and plan they need to succeed in a networking environment.
Review the other business development and marketing skills in the figure above and determine which skills your team should aim to develop. Strategy development for planning your business development plan, research for understanding the competitive landscape and industry trends, and social media prowess all play an important role in business development, too. Developing these skills should be a key priority of your business development team.
How to Create Your Strategic Business Development Plan
A Business Development Plan is a document that outlines how you implement your business development strategy. It can be a plan for an individual, a practice or the firm as a whole. Its scope covers both the marketing and sales functions, as they are so intertwined in most professional services firms.
Here are the key steps to develop and document your plan.
Define your target audience
Who are you trying to attract as new clients? Focus on your “best-fit” clients, not all possible prospects. It is most effective to focus on a narrow target audience. But don’t go so narrow that you can’t achieve your business goals.
Research their issues, buying behavior and your competitors
The more you know about your target audience the better equipped you will be to attract their attention and communicate how you can help them. What are their key business issues? Is your expertise relevant to those issues? Where do they look for advice and inspiration? What is the competitive environment like? How do you stack up?
Identify your competitive advantage
What makes you different? Why is that better for your target client? Are you the most cost-effective alternative, or the industry’s leading expert? This “positioning” as it is often called, needs to be true, provable and relevant to the prospect at the time they are choosing which firm to work with. Be sure to document this positioning, as you will use it over and over again as you develop your messages and marketing tools.
Choose your overall business development strategy
Pick the broad strategy or strategies to reach, engage and convert your prospects. You can start with the list of top strategies provided above. Which strategy fits with the needs and preferences of your target audiences? Which ones best convey your competitive advantage? For example, if you are competing because you have superior industry expertise, a thought leadership/content marketing strategy will likely serve you well.
Choose your business development tactics
A great place to start is the list of the most effective tactics we provided above. Make sure that each technique you select fits your target audience and strategy. Remember, it’s not about your personal preferences or familiarity with a tactic. It’s about what works with the audience.
Also, you will need to balance your choices in two important ways: First, you will need tactics that address each stage of the business development pipeline shown in Figure 1. Some techniques work great for gaining visibility but do not address longer-term nurturing. You need to cover the full funnel.
Second, you need a good balance between digital and traditional techniques (Figure 2). Your research should inform this choice. Be careful about assumptions. Just because you don’t use social media doesn’t mean that a portion of your prospects don’t use it to check you out.
Figure 2. Online and offline marketing techniques
When, how often, which conferences, what topics? Now is the time to settle on the details that turn a broad strategy into a specific plan. Many plans include a content or marketing calendar that lays out the specifics, week by week. If that is too much detail for you, at least document what you will be doing and how often. You will need these details to monitor the implementation of your plan.
Specify how you will monitor implementation and impact
Often overlooked, these important considerations often spell the difference between success and failure. Unimplemented strategies don’t work. Keep track of what you do, and when. This will both motivate action and provide a great starting place as you troubleshoot your strategy. Also monitor and record the impacts you see. The most obvious affect will be how much new business you closed. But you should also monitor new leads or new contacts, at the bare minimum. Finally, don’t neglect important process outcomes such as referrals, new names added to your list and downloads of content that expose prospects and referral sources to your expertise.
If you follow these steps you will end up with a documented business development strategy and a concrete plan to implement and optimize it.
How Hinge Can Help
Hinge, a global leader in professional services branding and marketing, helps firms grow faster and become more profitable. Our research-based strategies are designed to be implemented. In fact, our groundbreaking Visible Firm ® program combines strategy, implementation, training and more.
- For hands-on help developing a high-performance business development plan, register for our Visible Firm ® course through Hinge University.
- Keep pace with the marketplace, generate leads and build your reputation all at once: Marketing Planning Guide.
- Find out how to turn your firm into a high-visibility, high-growth business. Download our free executive guide, The Visible Firm® , in which we layout a detailed roadmap of this research-based program.
- For more insights, check out our blog post, How to Develop a Winning Go-to-Market Strategy for Your Firm
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Developing a Business Plan
An important task in starting a new venture is to develop a business plan. As the phrase suggests, a business plan is a "road map" to guide the future of the business or venture. The elements of the business plan will impact the daily decisions of the business and provide direction for expansion, diversification, and future evaluation of the business.
This publication will assist in drafting your own business plan. It includes a discussion of the makeup of the plan and the information needed to develop a business plan. Business plans are traditionally developed and written by the owner with input from family members and the members of the business team. Business plans are "living" documents that should be reviewed and updated every year or if an opportunity for change presents itself. Reviews reinforce the thoughts and plans of the owner and the business and are a key item in the evaluation process. For an established venture, evaluation determines if the business is in need of change or if it is meeting the expectations of the owners.
Using the Proper Format
The format and appearance of the plan should be as professional as possible to portray your business in a positive manner. When dealing with a lender or possible investor, the plan will be reviewed for accuracy and suggestions for changes to the plan may be offered. The decision to recommend a loan for approval will be largely based on your business plan. Often loan officers will not know a great deal about the proposed venture, but they will know the correct structure of a business plan.
Investors will make their decision based on the plan and the integrity of the owner. For this reason, it is necessary to use a professional format. After loan officers complete their evaluations, the loan committee will further review the business plan and make a decision. The committee members often spend limited time reviewing the document, focusing on the message of the executive summary and financial statements to make their determination. They will refer to other sections of the plan for details and clarification. Because of this, these portions need to be the strongest parts of the plan and based on sound in-depth research and analysis.
Sections of the Business Plan
A business plan should be structured like a book with the title or cover page, followed by a table of contents. Following these two pages, the body of the plan normally appears in this order: executive summary, business mission statement, goals and objectives, background information, organizational matters, marketing plan, and financial plan.
The executive summary is placed at the front of the business plan, but it should be the last part written. The summary should identify the type of business and describe the proposed business, or changes to the existing business. Research findings and recommendations should be summarized concisely to provide the reader with the information required to make any decisions. The summary outlines the direction and future plans or goals of the business, as well as the methods that will be used to achieve these goals. The summary should include adequate background information to support these recommendations.
The final financial analysis and the assumptions used are also a part of the executive summary. The analysis should show how proposed changes will ensure the sustainability of the current or proposed business. All challenges facing the existing business or proposed venture should be discussed in this section. Identifying such challenges shows the reader that all possibilities have been explored and taken into account during the research process.
Overview, Mission, and Goals and Objectives
This section has three separate portions. It begins with a brief overview that includes a general description of the existing or planned business. The overview is followed by the mission statement of the business. You should try to limit the mission statement to three sentences if possible and include only the key ideas about why the business exists. An example of a mission statement for a produce farm might be: The mission of XYZ Produce is to provide fresh, healthy produce to our customers, and to provide a safe, friendly working environment for our employees. If you have more than three sentences, you should be as concise as possible.
The final portion sets the business's goals and objectives. There are at least two schools of thought about goals and objectives. Goals and objectives should show the reader what the business wishes to accomplish, and the steps needed to obtain the desired results. Conducting a SWOT analysis will assist your team when developing goals and objectives. SWOT in an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and is covered more in-depth later in the publication. You may want to include marketing topics in the SWOT or conduct two SWOT analyses, one for the entire business and one for the marketing plan.
Goals should follow the acronym DRIVE, which stands for D irectional, R easonable, I nspiring, V isible, and E ventual. The definitions of DRIVE are:
- Directional: It should guide you to follow your vision.
- Reasonable: You should be able to reach the goal, and it should be related to your business.
- Inspiring: Make sure the goal is positive but should challenge the business to grow into the goal.
- Visible: You and your employees should be able to easily recognize the goal. Goals should be posted where everyone sees them every day.
- Eventual: The goals should focus on the future and be structured to provide motivation to all to strive towards the goals.
Objectives should follow the acronym SMART, which stands for S pecific, M easurable, A ttainable, R ewarding, and T imed. Objectives are the building blocks to achieve the goals and stand for:
- Specific: Each objective should focus on one building block to reach the goal.
- Measurable: You should be able to determine if your progress is going in the right direction.
- Attainable: You should be able to complete the objective with an appropriate amount of work.
- Rewarding: Reaching the objective should be something to celebrate and provide positive reinforcement to the business.
- Timed: You must have a deadline for the objective to be achieved. You do not want to have the objectives linger for too long. Not reaching the objectives delays reaching the goals. Not achieving goals is detrimental to the morale of the business.
Goals and objectives should follow these formats to allow for evaluation of the entire process and provide valuable feedback along the way. The business owner should continually evaluate the outcomes of decisions and practices to determine if the goals or objectives are being met and make modifications when needed.
Background information should come from the research conducted during the writing process. This portion should include information regarding the history of the industry, the current state of the industry, and information from reputable sources concerning the future of the industry.
This portion of the business plan requires the most investment of time by the writer, with information gathered from multiple sources to prevent bias or undue optimism. The writer should take all aspects of the industry (past, present, and future) and business into account. If there are concerns or questions about the viability of the industry or business, these must be addressed. In writing this portion of the plan, information may be obtained from your local public library, periodicals, industry personnel, trusted sources on the Internet, and publications such as the Penn State Extension Agricultural Alternatives series . Industry periodicals are another excellent source of up-to-date information. The more varied the sources, the better the evaluation of the industry and the business, and the greater the opportunity to have a viable plan.
The business owner must first choose an appropriate legal structure for the business. The business structure will have an impact on the future, including potential expansion and exit from the business. If the proper legal structure is not chosen, the business may be negatively impacted down the road. Only after the decision is made about the type of business can the detailed planning begin.
This section of the plan describes the current or planned business structure, the management team, and risk-management strategies. There are several forms of business structure to choose from, including sole proprietorship, partnership, corporations (subchapter S or subchapter C), cooperative, and limited liability corporation or partnership (LLC or LLP). These business structures are discussed in Agricultural Alternatives: Starting or Diversifying an Agricultural Business .
The type of business structure is an important decision and often requires the advice of an attorney (and an accountant). The business structure should fit the management skills and style(s) of the owner(s) and take into account the risk management needs (both liability and financial) of the business. For example, if there is more than one owner (or multiple investors), a sole proprietorship is not an option because more than one person has invested time and/or money into the business. In this case a partnership, cooperative, corporation, LLC, or LLP would be the proper choice.
Another consideration for the type of business structure is the transfer of the business to the next generation or the dissolution of the business. There are benefits and drawbacks for each type of structure covering the transition of ownership. If the business has a high exposure to risk or liability, then an LLC might be preferred over a partnership or sole proprietorship.
If the business is not a sole proprietorship, the management team should be described in the business plan. The management team should consist of all parties involved in the decisions and activities of the business. The strengths and backgrounds of the management team members should be discussed to highlight the positive aspects of the team. Even if the business is a sole proprietorship, usually more than one person (often a spouse, child, relative, or other trusted person) will have input into the decisions, and so should be included as team members.
Regardless of the business structure, all businesses should also have an external management support team. This external management support team should consist of the business's lawyer, accountant, insurance agent or broker, and possibly a mentor. These external members are an integral part of the management team. Many large businesses have these experts on staff or on retainer. For small businesses, the external management team replaces full-time experts; the business owner(s) should consult with this external team on a regular basis (at least once a year) to determine if the business is complying with all rules and regulations. Listing the management team in the business plan allows the reader to know that the business owner has developed a network of experts to provide advice.
The risk-management portion of the business plan provides a description of how the business will handle unexpected or unusual events. For example, if the business engages in agricultural production, will the business purchase crop insurance? Does the business have adequate liability insurance? Is the business diversified to protect against the unexpected, rather than "putting all its eggs in one basket"? If the business has employees, does the business carry adequate workers' compensation insurance? All of these questions should be answered in the risk-management portion of the business plan. More information on how liability can affect your business and on the use of insurance as a risk-management tool can be found in Agricultural Alternatives: Agricultural Business Insurance and Agricultural Alternatives: Understanding Agricultural Liability . The business structure will also determine a portion of the risk-management strategy because the way that a business is structured carries varying levels of risk to the owner and/or owners. All opportunities carry a degree of risk that must be evaluated, and mitigation strategies should be included in this portion of the plan.
Every purchase decision that a consumer makes is influenced by the marketing strategy or plan of the company selling the product or service. Products are usually purchased based on consumer preferences, including brand name, price, and perceived quality attributes. Consumer preferences develop (and change) over time and an effective marketing plan takes these preferences into account. This makes the marketing plan an important part of the overall business plan.
In order to be viable, the marketing plan must coincide with the production activities. The marketing plan must address consumer desires and needs. For example, if a perishable or seasonal crop (such as strawberries) will be produced, the marketing plan should not include sales of locally grown berries in January if the business is in northeastern United States. If the business plans to purchase berries in the off-season from other sources to market, this information needs to be included. In this way, the marketing plan must fit the production capabilities (or the capability to obtain products from other sources).
A complete marketing plan should identify target customers, including where they live, work, and purchase the product or service you are providing. This portion of the plan contains a description of the characteristics and advantages of your product or service. Identifying a "niche" market will be of great value to your business.
Products may be sold directly to the consumer (retail) or through another business (wholesale) or a combination of both. Whichever marketing avenue you choose, if you are starting a new enterprise or expanding an existing one, you will need to decide if the market can bear more of what you plan to produce. Your industry research will assist in this determination. The plan must also address the challenges of the proposed marketing strategy.
Other variables to consider are sales location, market location, promotion, advertising, pricing, staffing, and the costs associated with all of these. All of these aspects of the marketing plan will take time to develop and should not be taken lightly. Further discussion on marketing fruits and vegetables can be found in Agricultural Alternatives: Fruit and Vegetable Marketing for Small-Scale and Part-Time Growers .
An adequate way of determining the answers to business and marketing issues is to conduct a SWOT analysis. The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths represent internal attributes and may include aspects like previous experience in the business. Experience in sales or marketing would be an area of strength for a retail farm market. Weaknesses are also internal and may include aspects such as the time, cost, and effort needed to introduce a new product or service to the marketplace.
Opportunities are external aspects that will help your business to take off and be sustained. If no one is offering identical products or services in your immediate area, you may have the opportunity to capture the market. Threats are external and may include aspects like other businesses offering the same product in close proximity to your business or government regulations impacting business practices and cost.
The financial plan and assumptions are crucial to the success of the business and should be included in the business plan. One of the foremost reasons new businesses fail is because they do not have enough start-up capital to cover all expenses to make a profit. The scope of your business will be determined by the financial resources you can acquire. Because of this, you will need to develop a financial plan and create the supporting documents to substantiate it.
The financial plan has its basis in historical data (if you are an existing business) or from projections (for a proposed business). The first issue to address is recordkeeping. You should indicate who will keep the necessary records and how these records will be used. Internal controls, such as who will sign checks and handle any funds, should also be addressed. A good rule to follow for businesses that are not sole proprietorships is having at least two people sign all checks.
The next portion of the financial plan should detail where funding will come from. This includes if (and when) the business will need additional capital, how much capital will be needed, and how these funds will be obtained. If start-up capital is needed, this information should be included in this portion. Personal contributions should be included, along with other funding sources. The amount of money and repayment terms should be listed. One common mistake affecting many new businesses is under-funding at start-up. Many start-up businesses do not evaluate all areas of expense and underestimate the amount of capital needed to see a new business through the development stages (including personal living expenses, if off-farm income is not available).
Typically, a balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, and partial budget or enterprise budgets are included in a business plan. More information on agricultural budgets can be found in Agricultural Alternatives: Budgeting for Agricultural Decision Making . These documents will display the financial information in a form that lending institutions are used to seeing. If these are not prepared by an accountant, having one review them will ensure that the proper format has been used.
Financial projections should be completed for at least two years and, ideally, for five years. In agricultural businesses, five-year projections are sometimes difficult to make because of variability in prices, weather, and other aspects affecting production. One way to illustrate these risks is to develop several projection scenarios covering a range of production assumptions. This attention to detail will often result in a positive experience with lenders because they realize that the plan covers several possible circumstances and provides insight into how the business plans to manage risk. More information on financing agricultural businesses can be found in the publication Agricultural Alternatives: Financing Small-Scale and Part-Time Farms .
To keep personal assets and liabilities separate from business assets and liabilities, it is beneficial to create both business and personal financial statements. A lender will need to see both, but the separation will show how the business will support the family or how the off-farm income will support the business.
Cash Flow Statement
A cash flow statement is the predicted flow of cash into and out of a business over a year. Cash flow statements are prepared by showing the total amounts predicted for each item of income or expense. This total is then broken down by month to show when surpluses and shortfalls in cash will occur. In this way, the cash flow statement can be used to predict when additional cash is needed and when the business will have a surplus to pay back any debt. This monthly prediction allows the owner(s) to better evaluate the cash needs of the business, taking out applicable loans and repaying outstanding debts. The cash flow statement often uses the same categories as the income statement plus additional categories to cover debt payments and borrowing.
After these financial statements are completed, the business plan writer will have an accurate picture of how the business has performed and can project how the business will perform in the coming year(s). With such information, the owner—and any readers of the business plan—will be able to evaluate the viability of the business and will have an accurate understanding of actions and activities that will contribute to its sustainability. This understanding will enable them to make better informed decisions regarding loans or investments in the business.
The income statement is a summary of the income (revenue) and expenses for a given accounting cycle. If the balance sheet is a "snapshot" of the financial health of the business, the income statement is a "motion picture" of the financial health of the business over a specific time period. An income statement is constructed by listing the income (or revenue) at the top of the page and the expenses (and the resulting profit or loss) at the bottom of the page.
Revenue is any income realized by the sale of crops or livestock, government payments, and any other income the business may have (including such items as fuel tax refunds, patronage dividends, and custom work). Other items impacting revenues are changes in inventory and accounts receivable between the start of the time period and the end—even if these changes are negative.
Expenses include any expense the business has incurred from the production of the products sold. Examples of expenses include feed, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel, labor, maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes, utilities, and any changes in accounts payable. Depreciation, which is the calculated wear and tear on assets (excluding land), is included as an expense for accounting purposes. Interest is considered an expense, but any principal payments related to loans are not an expense. Repayment of principal is recorded on the balance sheet under "Loans Payable."
As the income statement is created, the desired outcome is to have more income than expenses, so the income statement shows a profit. If not, the final number is shown in parentheses (signifying a negative number). Another name for this financial record is a Profit and Loss Statement. Income statements are one way to clearly show how the farm is making progress from one year to the next and may show a much more optimistic view of sustainability than can be seen by looking at a single year's balance sheet.
A balance sheet is a snapshot of a business’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity at a specific point in time. A balance sheet can be prepared at any time, but is usually done at the end of the fiscal year (for many businesses, this is the end of the calendar year). Evaluating the business by using the balance sheet requires several years of balance sheets to tell the true story of the business’s progress over time. A balance sheet is typically constructed by listing assets on the left and liabilities and owner’s equity on the right. The difference between the assets and liabilities of the business is called the "owner's equity" and provides an estimate of how much of the business is owned outright.
Assets are anything owned by, or owed to, the business. These include cash (and checking account balances), accounts receivable (money owed to the business), inventory (any crops or supplies that the business has stored on farm), land, equipment, and buildings. This may also include machinery, breeding stock, small-fruit bushes or canes, and fruit trees. Sometimes assets are listed as current (those easily converted to cash) and fixed (those that are required for the business to continue). Assets are basically anything of value to the business. Some valuations of assets are not easily determined for items such as breeding stock, small-fruit bushes or canes, and fruit trees and may require the use of a certified appraiser familiar with the items.
Balance sheets may use a market-basis or a cost-basis to calculate the value of assets. A market-basis balance sheet better reflects the current economic conditions because it relies on current or market value for the assets, rather than what those assets originally cost. Market values are more difficult to obtain because of the difficulty in finding accurate current prices of assets and often results in the inflation of the value of assets. Cost-basis balance sheets are more conservative because the values are often from prior years. For example, a cost-basis balance sheet would use the original purchase price of land, rather than what selling that land would bring today. Because purchase records are easily obtained, constructing a cost-basis balance sheet is easier. Depreciable assets such as buildings, tractors, and equipment are listed on the cost-basis balance sheet at purchase price less accumulated depreciation. Most accountants use the cost-basis balance sheet method. Whether you choose to use market-basis or cost-basis, it is critical that you remain consistent over the years to allow for accurate comparison.
Liabilities are what the business owes on the date the balance sheet is prepared. Liabilities include both current liabilities (accounts payable, any account the business has with a supplier, short-term notes, operating loans, and the current portion of long-term debt), which are payable within the current year, and noncurrent liabilities (mortgages and loans with a term that extends over one year).
Owner's equity is what remains after all liabilities have been subtracted from all assets. It represents money that the owner(s) have invested in the business, profits that are retained in the business, and changes caused by fluctuating market values (on a market-basis balance sheet). Owner’s equity will be affected whenever there are changes in capital contributed to the business or retained earnings, so if your practice is to use all earnings as your "paycheck," rather than reinvesting them in the business, your owner's equity will be impacted. On the balance sheet, owner’s equity plus liabilities equals assets. Or stated another way, all of the assets less the amount owed (liabilities) equals the owner’s equity (sometimes referred to as "net worth"). Owner's equity provides the "balance" in a balance sheet.
Putting It All Together
After the mission, background information, organization, and marketing and financial plans are complete, an executive summary can then be prepared. Armed with the research results and information in the other sections, the business will come alive through this section. Research results can be included in an appendix if desired. The next step is to share this plan with others whose opinions you respect. Have them ask you the hard questions—make you defend an opinion you have expressed or challenge you to describe what you plan to do in more detail. Often, people are hesitant to share what they have written with their families or friends because they fear the plan will not be taken seriously. However, it is much better to receive constructive criticism from family and friends (and gain the opportunity to strengthen your plan) than it is to take it immediately to the lender, only to have any problems pointed out and receive a rejection.
Once all parts of the business plan have been written, you will have a document that will enable you to analyze your business and determine which, if any, changes need to be made. Changes on paper take time and effort but are not as expensive as changing a business practice only to find that the chosen method is not viable. For a proposed venture, if the written plan points to the business not being viable, large sums of money have not been invested and possibly lost. In short, challenges are better faced on paper than with investment capital.
Remember, a business plan is a "road map" that will guide the future of the business. The best business plan is a document in continual change, reacting to the influence of the outside world on the business. Having the basis of a written plan will give you the confidence to consider changes in the business to remain competitive. Once the plan is in place, the business will have a better chance of future success.
For More Information
Abrams, R. The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies (Successful Business Plan Secrets and Strategies) . Palo Alto, Calif.: Planning Shop, 2014.
Becker, J. C., L. F. Kime, J. K. Harper, and R. Pifer. Agricultural Alternatives: Understanding Agricultural Liability . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2011.
Dethomas, A., and L. and S. Derammelaere. Writing a Convincing Business Plan (Barron's Business Library) . Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron's Educational Series. 2015.
Dunn, J., J. K. Harper, and L. F. Kime. Agricultural Alternatives: Fruit and Vegetable Marketing for Small-scale and Part-time Growers . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2009.
Grant, W. How to Write a Winning Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide for Startup Entrepreneurs to Build a Solid Foundation, Attract Investors and Achieve Success with a Bulletproof Business Plan (Business 101). Independently published. 2020.
Harper, J. K., S. Cornelisse, L. F. Kime, and J. Hyde. Agricultural Alternatives: Budgeting for Agricultural Decision Making . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2019.
Kime, L. F., J. A. Adamik, E. E. Gantz, and J. K. Harper. Agricultural Alternatives: Agricultural Business Insurance . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2019.
Kime, L. F., S. Cornelisse, and J. K. Harper. Agricultural Alternatives: Starting or Diversifying an Agricultural Business . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2018.
Lesonsky, R. Start Your Own Business Fifth Edition: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need. Irvine, Calif.: Entrepreneur Media Inc., 2010.
Shelton, H. The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Plan That Gets Results. Rockville, Md.: Summit Valley Press, 2017.
Stokes, J. S., G. D. Hanson, J. K. Harper, and L. F. Kime. Agricultural Alternatives: Financing Small-scale and Part-time Farms . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2005.
Starting a Farm: Business Planning
- American Agriculturist Magazine Farm Progress Companies Inc. 5482 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 260 Los Angeles, CA 90036
- Businessweek Magazine
- Fortune Magazine
- Kiplinger's Personal Finance
- Money Magazine
- BizPlanit - Virtual Business Plan
- PA Business One-Stop Shop
- Small Business Administration
- SCORE—volunteer business assistance
- The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Starting a Business in Pennsylvania—A Guide to Pennsylvania Taxes
- The Pennsylvania State University Agricultural Alternative Tools
- The Pennsylvania State University Conducting a SWOT Analysis
- The Pennsylvania State University Happy Valley Launch Box
Prepared by Lynn F. Kime, senior extension associate; Linda Falcone, extension educator in Wyoming County, Jayson K. Harper, professor of agricultural economics; and Winifred W. McGee, retired extension educator in Dauphin County
Additional financial support for this publication was provided by the Risk Management Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
This publication was developed by the Small-scale and Part-time Farming Project at Penn State with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Extension Service.
- Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education
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What is a professional development plan (PDP)? 6 steps to create one
A professional development plan is an ever-changing document that assesses your current skill set, helps you set career goals, create strategies, and uncover resources that will help you reach them. Read on for examples of professional development goals and plans, and discover tools to help track your progress.
Times have changed. While our parents and grandparents typically picked one job and stuck with it until retirement, following a very straightforward career path, the modern knowledge worker is presented with a variety of new industries, jobs, and ways to prove ourselves.
This abundance of opportunities is amazing but can also be overwhelming. If you’re looking to streamline your career goals, a professional development plan, or PDP, is the tool you need.
A professional development plan is a document that outlines your current skills and knowledge, your goals, and the steps you need to take to achieve these goals.
We’re going to cover the six steps your PDP should include, examples of professional development goals and plans, and tools that will help you track your career development.
How to create a professional development plan in 6 steps
Your professional development plan is not a one-time project. Rather, it’s an ever-changing document that you update as your goals, surroundings, and priorities change.
The visual below illustrates the lifecycle of your professional development plan.
So let’s dive into the six steps you need to take to create your own professional development plan (PDP).
Step 1: Assess yourself
You have to first identify where you stand with your current skills and knowledge of relevant topics so you can figure out what you need to improve or change to progress in your career.
Assessing yourself isn’t always easy. To jump-start this process, try using an assessment tool or personality test. Here are a few popular ones to try:
The Big Five
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
These tests can help you get a better understanding of who you are and what you want out of your life and career.
Step 2: Set your goals
Now that you’ve evaluated your current position and skills, it’s time to set your goals. To break up your main goals, you’ll want to set long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals .
Long-term goals can be months or even years into the future.
Mid-term goals should range from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
Short-term goals should range from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
Generally speaking, aim to set one long-term goal and then break the mid- and short-term goals up into manageable chunks. The number of short- and mid-term goals you set depends on how far into the future you’re planning and how many steps you need to complete to reach the finish line.
Setting more than one long-term goal only makes sense if they’re on different tracks. For example, you could set a long-term goal for your career, another one for your fitness, and a last one for your finances. While the progress you’re making in each of these aspects of your life may influence one another, these goals are different enough to require unique mid- and short-term goals.
If you do set more than one long-term goal, consider the mental, emotional, and physical strain that multiple goals can have on you and adjust your schedule accordingly so you don’t burn out .
Whether you’re setting long-, mid-, or short-term goals, use the SMART goal technique to ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. We’ll cover some examples later on.
Step 3: Develop strategies
To reach your goals you need an action plan. To create one, ask yourself how you can advance your competencies, learn new skills, or get that promotion you’ve been eyeing.
Take a look at your current skill set or position, as well as your goals, and write down what you need to do to reach them. Whether that’s going to a conference to broaden your knowledge, finding a mentor who can help you build meaningful connections within the organization, or signing up for a workshop to hone your skills—write down your action plan so you know which steps you’ll have to take to reach your goals.
Step 4: Gather your resources
Once you’ve developed an action plan, think through the professional growth you need to succeed. Here are a few examples of resources that can be relevant to your professional development:
Seminars, webinars, or workshops that elevate your skill set
Learning and development resources that can advance your knowledge
Professional networks that connect you with new peers or mentors
Continuing education institutions that provide you with the degree you need for your promotion.
Social media platforms, like LinkedIn, where you can connect with your virtual team outside of work
List all the resources you can think of and then narrow them down to the ones that align best with your strategies and goals.
Step 5: Create a timeline
Creating a timeline and deadlines for your goals can be extremely helpful in sticking to them. It’s also the “T” of any SMART goal (time-bound).
Depending on the type of goals you set for yourself, you may want to think in weekly, monthly, or quarterly increments. Try to find a happy balance between giving yourself enough time to achieve your goals but also challenging yourself.
If your main goal is tied to a specific date (for example, a new position that you want which needs to be filled by the beginning of the next year), your timeline will hold you accountable to your short- and mid-term goals so you don’t miss this career opportunity.
Step 6: Track your progress
With your timeline at hand and your SMART goals defined, it should be easy for you to track your progress and assess where you are. This brings us back to the beginning because your PDP isn’t a linear plan—it’s a lifecycle.
Remember to keep your PDP alive by updating and adjusting it as you go. That’s the only way it can help you to continually improve yourself and grow in your career. You should also add your goals to a goal-setting software that allows you to track your progress and connect with others.
Professional development goal examples
We already have an entire article on advancing your career with professional goals but let’s sum up some of the most important information regarding professional development goals.
Professional development goals are concrete objectives that you want to achieve during your career. They’re a combination of short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Setting these goals should keep you motivated and ensure that you don’t get stuck on your career path.
Here are a few examples of what these goals can look like:
Objective: Start a new job
Long-term: Get a good offer and quit your current job.
Mid-term: Apply for at least five positions that you’re really interested in.
Short-term: Find five job opportunities by the end of the week.
Objective: Get more involved in company activities
Long-term: Participate in and help organize at least one event by the end of the year.
Mid-term: Join a group or committee that sparks your interest.
Short-term: Find three opportunities that you’re interested in (e.g., a networking group, a charity committee, etc.) and contact them about getting involved by the end of the month.
Breaking your main objective up into manageable chunks will take some of the pressure off and allow you to approach your goal step by step. Plus, it’ll give you reasons to celebrate your smaller achievements along the way.
Professional development plan examples
Everyone’s professional development plan is going to look different. To give you a quick overview of what it can entail, here are a few brief examples of what you can write in your professional development plan:
Joined the company only six weeks ago
I feel welcomed by my team but I’m holding back on social interactions because I am intimidated by their closeness
Create a network of at least three people that I connect with outside of work by the end of the year.
Speak up and get involved in meetings
Attend conferences, workshops, and after-work activities
Find a mentor
Connect with colleagues on LinkedIn
Company networks and after-work activities
Mentor 1:1 meetings
By next week: Add colleagues on LinkedIn and participate in at least one after-work activity
By next month: Secure a mentor and schedule bi-weekly meetings
By next quarter: Attend a conference or workshop with a colleague
By the end of the year: Have three or more colleagues that I feel comfortable hanging out with after or outside of work
When tracking these goals, you may realize that they were easier or harder to reach than you thought. That’s no problem! Simply adjust your goals or timeline and keep going.
In this case, you may realize that making these connections doesn’t just help you feel more welcome and comfortable in the team but that your team considers you a natural leader. That could lead to a whole new development plan you can create to ensure you keep growing as a person.
Professional development plan vs. leadership development plan
Technically, a professional development plan doesn’t differ too much from a leadership development plan. Both require you to assess your current situation, set realistic goals, and track your progress.
However, if your goals are focused on improving your leadership skills or advancing into a leadership role at your organization, creating a leadership development plan will help you focus on the exact skills you’ll need to turn that plan into action.
The first two steps remain the same: assess where you stand professionally and set your goals. After that, step three is to engage in leadership training and hone your leadership skills. During this step, you’ll also meet other leaders who can become your mentors and eventually your peers.
Step four of your leadership development plan is to build and interact with your network. To become a respected and successful leader, you’ll have to connect with like-minded people and seek out feedback whenever possible.
The last step is to learn or improve soft skills like effective communication , your emotional intelligence , and conflict resolution . All of these are critical to succeed in a leadership role and will distinguish a mediocre leader from a great one.
Help your team set trackable professional goals
Whether you’re working on your own PDP or helping out a teammate, the most important thing is that whatever goals you set are measurable and precise. This will allow you to track your progress and celebrate milestones.
With Asana’s goal tracking software, you can align your personal goals with those of your team or organization and always stay on top of your latest achievements.
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Business Development Business Plan
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Palms and Bonds
Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.
Botswana has increasing number of entrepreneurs and competition amongst existing companies which presents an increased demand for market information and services. Companies need market research and info to stay ahead of their competitors.
Palms and Bonds is based in Botswana and offers the expertise that a proactive-oriented and market-opportunity seeking company needs to develop and enter new product distribution and new market segments in new markets. We intend to provide a number of necessary services to the business community and to the public. These can be summed up in two main divisions — Business and Training Services. Our business services can be taken as marketing research, market research reports, project-based consulting, business and marketing plans, plan consulting and writing, high-level retainer consulting and company registration. Our training services include workshops and seminars on such topics as sales and marketing, as well as in-house training of receptionists, secretaries, and sales and marketing personnel.
Our intended markets are increasingly growing towards recognizing the difference between poor quality business consultancy service and that of high quality. This development is an important trend for us as it represents our target market, and hence opportunity. We now are having an increasing number of people who appreciate quality information and the importance of having comprehensive and concise market and business plans undertaken.
Another trend is the one toward greater use of specialized and focused consultants, instead of in-house resources. Companies are looking for out-sourcing (but unfortunately few offer such a service) and, in general, a preference for variable costs instead of fixed costs.
There are numerous companies operating in Gaborone who classify themselves as “business consultants”. However, upon contacting these, it appears that the vast majority of these companies are bookkeeping and secretarial services companies. There are some companies that provide services similar to those offered by us and that is good, but none of them specialize in market/marketing research. The following are some of our main competitors:
Palms and Bonds offers clients reliable, quality information and proposals for business development, market development, and channel development that will maximize business development. A true alternative to in-house resources we offer a very high level of practical experience, know-how, contacts, and confidentiality. At Palms and Bonds we are able to provide comprehensive solutions to our clients’ problems that will foster business development. Clients must know that working with Palms and Bonds is a more professional, less risky way to develop new areas even than working completely in-house with their own people. Palms and Bonds must also be able to maintain financial balance, charging a competitive and realistic value for its services, and delivering an even higher value to its clients. Initial focus will be development of the local market clientele.
The annual sales projections for three years are included in the table below. It should be noted that as we become established and known on the market we project sales to increase at a faster rate than the initial year.
Financial projections are in Botswanan Pula (P).
Financial Highlights by Year
The co-founders will each contribute $35,000, for a total investment of $70,000. Total start-up capital and expenses covered (including legal costs, logo design, stationery and related expenses) came to approximately $49,000. Start-up assets required and utilized included personal computers, vehicles, office furniture, and other office equipment is an additional $20,000.
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Steve Cohen has finally laid his cards on the table.
The billionaire Mets owner finally unveiled his long-awaited Queens casino plan Tuesday — revealing a sprawling $8 billion gaming center, hotel, and music venue near Citi Field that he has dubbed “Metropolitan Park” after the team’s full corporate name.
The proposed entertainment playground, which will be operated with Cohen by Hard Rock International , also offers the community goodies such as 20 acres of green space and access to Flushing Bay.
“It’s time the world’s greatest city got the sports and entertainment park it deserves,” said Cohen.
“When I bought this team, fans and the community kept saying we needed to do better. Metropolitan Park delivers on the promise of a shared space that people will not only want to come to and enjoy but can be truly proud of.”
But the fate of Metropolitan Park is still about as secure as a Mets late-inning lead.
. @Mets Owner Steve Cohen Introduces Metropolitan Park https://t.co/OQQsKJ25jI — EMPIRE REPORT (@EMPIREREPORTNY) November 7, 2023
As the land for the new facility is legally designated as parkland, Cohen would need to get the state legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul to pass a law allowing commercial development there.
Key lawmakers — particularly state Sen. Jessica Ramos whose district includes Willets Point and the neighborhoods around it — have not agreed thus far to support such legislation.
Names of legislators were conspicuously missing from a press release showing support from business and community leaders.
Senator Ramos, in a statement Tuesday, is still not on board, saying, “I will be hosting another town hall on this proposal at the end of the month. It’s important that my neighbors look carefully at the details and we’ll continue together with our process.”
But Queens Borough President Donovan Richards issued a bullish statement saying, I’m encouraged by Steve Cohen’s Metropolitan Park plan and its numerous community-centric proposals.” The Queens Chamber of Commerce, among others, also expressed support.
The casino plan also requires approval from state gaming regulators.
Under current law, state officials can issue up to three new casino licenses in the downstate region that includes New York City.
The surrounding property is home to Flushing Corona Park, the U.S. Open Tennis Center, and a planned soccer stadium for New York City FC , which is backed by Mayor Eric Adams.
Another potential stumbling block to a Cohen-owned casino is the state’s requirement of a background disclosure form where applicants attest to their “integrity, honesty, good character and reputation.”
In 2014, Cohen’s hedge fund SAC Capital was forced to pay a $1.8 billion penalty to the federal government after pleading guilty to wire fraud and securities fraud.
Cohen, who was never charged criminally, was accused of failing to prevent insider trading at the company, which he founded in 1992 and which bears his initials.
But the baggage didn’t stop Major League Baseball from allowing Cohen to buy the Mets.
There’s a stiff combination of other developers and casino operators who have joined forces with proposals to build a casino in Times Square , Hudson Yards , Coney Island, and possibly Ferry Point in The Bronx, where gaming operator Bally’s replaced the Trump Organization as operator of the golf course.
Two existing slots parlor operators — Genting at the Aqueduct race track and Empire Resorts MGM at Yonkers race track — are seeking two of three casino licenses to offer table games.
Still, billionaire Cohen and firms controlled by him have put a lot of chips on the table — spending millions of dollars on army lobbyists and delivering campaign donations to elected officials to help make his case to build the casino-entertainment complex.
Cohen’s plan projects an investment of over $8 billion, generating 15,000 permanent and construction jobs in the coming years
It calls for 20 acres of new park space and 5 acres of community athletic fields, bike paths, playgrounds, and climate-ready infrastructure including solar, green roofs, and flood mitigation.
There will be new pathways to the Flushing Bay waterfront, and Flushing-Corona Park from the surrounding community and improved mass transit, road networks, and parking
Landscape architect Field Operations will design the park.
Its key New York City designs include the High Line, Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport, Domino Park, Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island, and the newly opened Gansevoort Peninsula in Hudson River Park.
Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of its Seminole Gaming facilities in Florida said, “Hard Rock at Metropolitan Park will be rooted in the spirit of music while embracing the unique culture and character of Queens.”
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Tesla to build 25,000-euro car in Germany - source
- CEO Musk announced plan for 25,000-eur car on site visit: source
- Plant currently produces Model Y, set to expand
- Staff granted 4% pay rise
BERLIN, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Tesla (TSLA.O) plans to build a 25,000-euro ($26,838) car at its factory near Berlin, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Monday, in a long-awaited development for the electric vehicle maker which is aiming for mass uptake of its cars.
The source, who declined to be named, did not say when production would begin.
Tesla declined to comment. Its shares were up 3% in pre-market trading in the United States at 0910 GMT.
The steep price tag of electric cars - compounded by high interest rates - is one of several factors holding back uptake of the technology in Europe and the United States, consumer surveys show.
The average retail price of an EV in Europe in the first half of 2023 was over 65,000 euros, according to autos research firm JATO Dynamics, compared to just over 31,000 euros in China.
Musk had long planned to make a more affordable electric car, but said in 2022 he had not yet mastered the technology and shelved the plan .
Still, sources told Reuters in September the carmaker was closing in on an innovation that would allow it to die cast nearly all of the underbody of the EV in one piece, a breakthrough that would speed up production and lower costs.
Expanding into the mass market is critical to meeting Tesla's aim of increasing vehicle deliveries to 20 million by 2030, setting it apart from competitors like Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) who have shied away from setting delivery targets and instead focused their strategies on protecting profit margins in the transition to EVs.
A general view shows the Tesla logo on the Gigafactory in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, August 30, 2022. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
Chief Executive Elon Musk visited the plant in Gruenheide on Friday and thanked staff for their hard work, a video showed on Musk's social media platform X.
At the same meeting, he informed staff of plans to build the 25,000-euro vehicle there, the source said.
The German plant currently produces the Model Y, Europe's best-selling EV.
The carmaker plans to double the German plant's capacity to 1 million vehicles a year, but has not provided an update on how many cars it produces there since March, when it said it had produced 5,000 vehicles in a week - equivalent to around 250,000 annually.
Local authorities said in October they had asked the carmaker to submit further information on how its expansion plans would adhere to nature conservation laws and would then make a decision on whether to approve them, without providing a timeframe.
Tesla also informed workers on Friday that all staff would receive a 4% pay rise from November onwards, with production workers receiving an additional 2,500 euros per year from February 2024 - equivalent to an 18% pay rise in 1-1/2 years.
German union IG Metall said in 2022 that Tesla wages were around 20% below those offered under collective bargaining agreements at other carmakers.
($1 = 0.9315 euros)
Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Editing by Rachel More, Bernadette Baum and Emelia Sithole-Matarise
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Autos correspondent in Germany, covering the industry's transition to electric vehicles. Previously reported on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retail sector in South Asia, China and Europe, and wider general news. Formerly at YouGov and Economy, a charity working to produce accessible economics coverage.
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