Writing a business plan

Writing a business plan

 5 Oct 2021

If you’ve been asked to write and present a business plan to your prospective new employer, then you are usually at, or almost at, the final hurdle of the interview process. You now just need to showcase how you are going to go about making your potential new role a resounding success.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some tips to get you started.

 

Choosing your format

Firstly, there are a myriad of different ways to write a business plan, from a one pager to a veritable missive. The only “right” format is the one that your audience wants to see. Ask questions upfront about format and content to ensure that you cover everything required.

 

What to include

Unless you have been given a prescriptive list of things to include, some things to consider are:

  • Personal profile – who are you, what are your key skills and attributes, what have you achieved to date, and why are you the right person for the job?
  • The vision – what does success look like?
  • How will you get there and what is your marketing / client / team strategy? What will you need in terms of resources to make that happen? Break this down annually for the first three years.
  • Metrics - how much do you expect to generate and what are the associated costs? Give financial projections for each of the first three years. 
  • Highlight any ways your work can link in with other parts of the business so you are maximising opportunities for the firm.
  • Explain why you want to join the company. Why are you and the company such a perfect fit? For example, how does their ethos / market fit in with your skills and ambitions?
  • Client case studies to illustrate past success as an indicator for the future.

 

How long should it be?

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so perfect length of business plan is in the eye of the recipient. As you will rarely know your interviewer well enough to judge their preferences, you can only do what feels right to you based on what you have gleaned in the interview process so far. Put yourself in the interviewer’s position and think about what you would like to see if you were the one reading your business plan.

As a general rule of thumb though, less is more. Try not to get bogged down in too much detail. You don’t want your interviewer face planting into their coffee! Keep it punchy, use headings and bullet points as appropriate. Put the most important things down and then talk through the rest of it. Your interviewer can then choose which elements they most want to deep dive on. 

 

Think about your presentation style

Decide what resources / technology you will be using for your presentation and find out if the company can provide any elements you need, or if you need to make your own arrangements.

Of course, you are going to want to make the best impact possible on your interviewer. Research shows that people absorb information in three different ways - auditory, visual and sensory – so you will want to appeal to the way that your interviewer prefers to take things on board.  As you cannot possibly know which preference your interviewer has, you would be best served to address all three in your presentation:

  • Talk through your plan, so your interviewer can listen to the words in their head. For someone with an auditory preference, listening alone is fine; they don’t need props.
  • Take some form of visual representation of your business plan so your interviewer can see and read the information in order to process it. Those with a visual preference like something to look at.
  • Give them a handout so they have something to touch and write notes on.

 

Extra Touches

Get subtly creative and impress them with that extra level of thought and detail. Perhaps use their logo on your presentation and mirror the fonts and colours of their website.

If you are bringing takeaways to give out, ensure they are look pristine and professional.

Research the company website thoroughly and know what is important to their culture and business. Take the opportunity to link into your business plan where appropriate.

 

Your business plan is a final validation of the interview process so far and should showcase your mind map for the future success of your business. Do your research and network as much as possible to ensure your strategies resonate with your audience and are aligned with the vision of the company.  This last piece is crucial to securing the position so the better informed and prepared you are, the better your chances of success.

 

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