For entrepreneurs who are just getting started with the process of launching their own startup company or business owners looking to expand into new markets, strategic business planning is crucial.
A business plan is not only necessary to secure funding opportunities but also a fundamental tool that helps define your target market, set priorities, create milestones, and bring clarity to your decision-making process.
A well-crafted business plan is an essential step towards growth and success. But creating a business plan isn’t easy; it involves much more than just writing about your startup mission and attaching broad market research statistics.
The good news is that you can make this process less tedious and a lot easier by taking advantage of various business plan development tools available. Here are five tools that will help streamline your business plan development process:
1. Hemmingway Editor
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make with their business plan is handing over a grammatically flawed document. When you submit a business plan with typos, complicated phrases, grammatical errors, and complex sentences that are difficult to understand, your readers are more likely to put it aside and move to the next thing. A poorly written business plan reflects badly on your business, no matter how strong your idea (or even sales) are.
Therefore, it’s important that you take time to review your business plan to make sure your content is more readable and that you’re communicating your message concisely, with perfect grammar, fluent language, and style. And this is exactly what the Hemmingway editor app does.
The Hemmingway app is a free, easy-to-use tool that’s designed to help your writing read more fluently and fluidly. Once you’ve written your plan, just copy and paste it into the editor and make the necessary edits. It’s especially useful when it comes to breaking down unnecessarily long sentences, rephrasing complicated sentences, and removing passive phrases and needless words.
Companies that neglect market research during their business plan development process often make impractical decisions and have difficulties communicating their message. Studying your target market helps you hone in on industry, understand the customer’s pain points, discover opportunities, and maintain a competitive advantage.
Statista is a great resource that helps entrepreneurs model consumer markets, analyze digital markets, and research different industries. The data visualization website has integrated data from market research reports, trade publications, organizational data repositories, consumer studies, and other relevant sources into a single statistics portal to provide users with information relevant to your particular market or industry.
3. Growthink Business Plan Template
Despite the significant importance of a business plan, many entrepreneurs hurriedly prepare their documents, often using an incorrect format and structure. And chances are, it’s their first time creating a business plan.
Growthink is a business plan consulting company that offers business plan writing tools and templates. Their websites feature business plan templates that cater to a wide range of industries from retail to hospitality to finance.
Each template covers the ten most crucial sections of a business plan, as well as the format and structure that investors and lending institutions expect. Take a look at a few business plan samples and articles to gain an in-depth understanding of what a business plan should look like.
Once you download a template, you can customize it with your company information. Templates also come with a pre-built financial model that allows you to prepare your financial statements and projections in seconds.
No entrepreneur has ever built a successful company by researching their target market and ignoring their competitors. To succeed in your industry, you have to do know what’s working and what’s not working for similar companies. That’s why the competitor analysis section of your business plan is so important; it shows that you understand what’s happening in your industry and can safely assume a position within it. Potential investors will assess this section to see if you’ve taken the time to study your competition before adopting your marketing strategy.
With a database of almost 6 billion keywords worldwide, SEMrush is one of the best competitor analysis tools available today. No matter how big your competition is, this tool can help you collect various types of data and provide you with insights into strategies that are working for other brands in your segment—and strategies that aren’t. You can use this data to build out your “competitor analysis” section.
It’s not uncommon for startup founders to find themselves shifting strategies based on market trends. Without the proper procedures in place to leverage a proactive analytics strategy, setting and measuring goals and reacting to market shifts becomes much more difficult. If you don’t have a solid analytics and business intelligence strategy, it’ll be almost impossible to identify areas of improvement and maintain a competitive advantage.
The good news is that you can create a data-driven company culture that’s market proactive instead of market reactive using tools like Tableau. Tableau offers a business intelligence suite of products that are particularly useful when it comes to simplifying large amounts of raw data and providing you with actionable analytics for better decision making.
With this visualization tool, you can define your strategic business goals, identify potential roadblocks in markets you’re launching into, and establish team processes that will ensure success and create a competitive advantage.
You’ll also be able to turn large amounts of and complex data into easily digestible graphs that you can include in your business plan. When the reader understands your data and it’s presented in a coherent way, they’re much more likely to make you an offer.