10 Tips for Creating a Great Business Plan
Use These Tips to Create a Great Architecture or Engineering Consulting Business Plan
You may be thinking of starting your own Architecture or Engineering company. Perhaps you have worked for a large firm for several years, and you’re ready to stand on your own two feet. Or, you just want the freedom that starting your own Architecture or Engineering company can provide.
Whatever the case may be, you need to understand that running a business takes much more than your skills as an engineer. You’ll have to deal with tons of paperwork, plus, you’ll also have to understand complex financial issues. Furthermore, you need to consider your competition. After all, Architecture or Engineering is a competitive industry. If you don’t have a plan in place, your firm may fall by the wayside.
So what’s an Architecture or Engineering consulting firm startup to do? Creating a great business plan is your first port of call. Your Architecture or Engineering consulting business plan will act as the foundation of your firm. It will allow you to attract investment, and help you to plot a course for the firm to follow over the coming years.
However, creating a great plan requires a good deal of business sense. You may not feel as though you’re equipped with the tools to do it on your own. If that’s the case, this article will help you. Here are ten great tips that can help you to create a good Architecture or Engineering consulting business plan.
Tip #1 – Consider Your Audience
Your business plan has an audience. For example, you may need to use your plan to secure investment for your Architecture or Engineering consulting firm startup. Alternatively, the plan may plot out the course you expect your business to take. Your firm’s directors will need to know this information.
The key here is that each audience has different requirements. Investors will want to know the facts and figures behind the business venture. Your internal team may prefer more of a focus on the path the company is going to take. You need to take these needs into account.
As a result, it’s possible that you may end up writing several business plans, each of which has a different focus depending on the audience you intend to present it to. However, you could also write a base business plan, around which you can tailor the information to suit the specific audience.
Whatever the case may be, your plan needs to appeal to the people who read it. If it doesn’t, it may not serve your purposes.
Tip #2 – Talk about Your Competition
Your firm will face all sorts of competition when you open your doors. You’ll have to deal with other startup firms that have their aim pointed squarely at the same market you want to engage. However, you’ll also have to deal with larger firms. Market leaders attract a lot of business through reputation, which is something your firm doesn’t have yet.
Your Architecture or Engineering consulting business plan needs to discuss this competition. Beyond naming your competitors, you need to think about what each one has to offer to your prospective clients.
This gives you an idea of what you’re up against, but it serves another purpose as well. If you know your competitors, you can figure out what makes you different from them.
Research your competitors thoroughly, and include all the information you find in your business plan. Build on this information to discuss what you’re going to do to differentiate yourself from your rivals. This is key. Investors will look for your unique selling point. However, you can’t know what makes you unique if you don’t know what other firms are doing.
Tip #3 – Be Concise
You may have already created an Architecture or Engineering consulting business plan. If you have, take a look at it. Read through it and consider how much information it’s actually delivering to you as a reader.
When writing your plan, it’s all too easy to get caught up in details. You want to provide as much information to the reader as possible, which results in a huge business plan. This may be great for you, as it provides all the detail you need to run your business. However, other readers may find it a chore to wade through all the information you include.
As a result, you need to think about what your readers really need to know. This may include financial metrics, revenue projections, and the firm’s core business focus.
Clouding those important details with filler content creates a weak business plan. Once you’ve figured out the message you wish to send to the reader, focus on making that message as concise as possible. Get to the point, and make sure any extra information you include serves a purpose.
Tip #4 – Understand Your Market
A lot of new business owners mistake market research for competitor research. While they’re related, they’re actually two different things. Market research is all about understanding how many people may benefit from your services. Competitor research focuses on how others are serving that market.
So, what market research do you need to include in your Architecture or Engineering consulting business plan? The current size of the market should form your starting point. However, you also need to think about how that market may grow in the future. This is crucial. Without market growth, your firm has nothing to expand into. You’ll stagnate before you get started, so you have to figure out how your firm will adapt to future market conditions.
Beyond that, your plan must also include details about how you hope to penetrate the market. What advertising will you use? What niche will you serve? Your market research will help you to understand the state of the market. More importantly, it will ensure you approach that market with a plan.
Tip #5 – Always Offer Proof
You’ll present a lot of facts, figures, and statements of intent as part of your business plan. They’re important because they tell the reader what you’re basing your strategy on.
However, those statements won’t mean anything if you don’t have any proof to back them up. It’s all well and good claiming that your firm will become a leader in its niche within a year. But if you can’t provide evidence to show why that is, you aren’t going to find any investors who will take you seriously.
This is particularly important when you’re bringing a new product or service to the market. Innovation only serves a purpose if it fulfils a need. If you can’t prove that there are people out there who want what you’re selling, it doesn’t matter if nobody else offers the service.
As a general rule of thumb, back up every claim that you make with evidence. Provide sources for any facts or figures that you quote. Offer résumés and other documentation to prove the experience of your firm’s team. Make no claim without something to back it up.
Tip #6 – Stay Realistic
An outlandish claim will not get you very far with your Architecture or Engineering consulting business plan. Banks and investors will pick up on it immediately. Before you know it, you’ll have to deal with all sorts of questions you may not be ready to answer.
Ambition is not a bad thing. You should want to succeed so that you can expand your firm and build a great business. However, you have to understand how the current market affects your firm. An Architecture or Engineering consulting firm startup is not going to become a market leader within a year. In fact, most will find that surviving the first year is the biggest challenge.
Your business plan needs to confront the issues your firm will face. Don’t shy away from the challenges. Instead, put them into writing and talk about your firm’s strategy for overcoming the problems.
Readers will feel more confident in your business if they feel as though you’re heading into it with realistic expectations.
Tip #7 – Pay Attention to the Little Things
You obviously need to ensure your plan contains accurate information. Miscalculations will skew the financial figures you present. This will provide a misleading business plan to the reader, plus, it means you may base your strategy on faulty information.
However, you also need to look beyond the major information. Remember that you’re going to present your business plan to an audience. As a result, it needs to be as impressive as possible. Every little spelling error, or formatting mistake, could be something that your reader picks up on.
This is particularly important for an Architecture or Engineering consulting firm startup. After all, detail is your business. If you don’t pay attention to the little things in your business plan, how can you prove that you will when you’re working on a major project?
Proofread your plan. Furthermore, have people from outside your organisation read it too. Sometimes, you may not see the mistakes you make because you’ve spent so long engrossed in the plan. A third party could spot something that you’ve missed.
Tip #8 – Use Conservative Market Estimates
You may think you can capture 25% of your market within the first three years of operation. Better yet, the figures you have back that claim up.
However, you also have to consider how such an ambitious estimate will look to the reader. Some may see what appears to be an outlandish estimate in your Architecture or Engineering consulting business plan and decide that they’ve read all that they need to.
As a result, it’s best to offer conservative figures at first. If you think you can attain a 25% market share, estimate that you’ll get 10%. This will seem like a more realistic figure to bankers and investors, particularly those who aren’t familiar with your industry.
It’s all about credibility, especially for an Architecture or Engineering consulting firm startup. Offer attainable estimates to attract interest in your business. If you then exceed those conservative estimates, you’ll find that your investors develop the confidence needed to help the business grow further.
Tip #9 – Use Visuals
You’ll have known from an early age that people absorb information in different ways. Some people prefer dry statements, whereas others learn well from visual stimuli. You need to account for this in your business plan.
Use visual elements at any point where you think they may be useful. For example, a graph is ideal for charting your projected growth. Anything that makes a confusing set of figures easier to understand is a good visual element.
Visuals also serve another purpose. They can help you to break up your content, which makes it easier for the reader to digest.
Of course, it’s all about balance. A business plan that contains loads of images, without any substantial text to back them up, will not deliver the information that you need it to. Consider the visual elements as complements to the information you present in the text.
Tip #10 – Create a Great Executive Summary
Your executive summary is a roundup of the key details your business plan contains. You’ll usually place it at the beginning of the plan to give the reader an idea of what they can expect from the document.
Think of your executive summary as an extended elevator pitch. It’s where you will highlight the key information about your business in an effort to pique the reader’s interest. Most investors will check the summary before they read the rest of the plan. Some even base their decisions to read further on the information in the summary.
Keep the summary concise, and ensure it focuses on the key information. Tell your readers what you will present in the plan, and offer a few facts and figures to entice them.
Your Architecture or Engineering consulting business plan is vital to the success of your firm. A poor plan will provide you with no guidance on how you will operate your Architecture or Engineering consulting firm startup, plus, you’ll find that investors ignore you. By pulling these tips together, you’ll create a strong business plan.
Of course, your business plan means little if you don’t have the skills to run a successful Architecture or Engineering firm. ArchiStar Academy can help you on your journey. We offer a range of courses in the latest digital design software. With us, you can learn more about the software packages you will use to create models for your prospective clients.
Contact ArchiStar Academy today to find out more about how we can help you.
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Posted on 20 Jan 2020