Entrepreneurs planning on new ventures face a unique challenge in 2020: How should they write a business plan when so many details of doing business have changed due to COVID-19, lockdowns, and social distancing? Jeff Nock Iowa has years of experience helping new businesses plan for the unexpected as they seek funding and partnerships. Here are his top suggestions for creating a business plan in these turbulent times.
Discuss Key Changes to Your Industry, Location Regulations, and Operation Plans Upfront
If you wrote much of your business plan before 2020, Jeff Nock Iowa suggests that you revise any parts necessary. Don’t try to hide anything that COVID-19 or related issues may have changed for you! If your industry is facing new struggles, acknowledge that. If local regulations will change how you interact with customers (obviously this is a key detail for restaurants and many shops, as well as rentals) or how many customers you can serve at once, make a note of this, too. Change your logistics, operational details, and financial forecast to match the new world we find ourselves in.
As Jeff Nock Iowa reminds those looking for funds, banks and investors are all too aware of how coronavirus has changed the business world. They will be looking for entrepreneurs that understand this, have kept up on all the changes, and have created a plan to deal with the here and now.
Explain if Funding and Revenue Plans Have Changed
If you are planning to grow through funding rather than just organic growth, your funding situation may have also changed in 2020, depending on the organization you have planned. Some potential funding may have dried up or been frozen for the time being. Other funding options from government stimulus plans at the local and federal levels may now be available. Jeff Nock Iowa encourages you to pursue all new opportunities and be realistic about previously planned funding that may not be available now.
Likewise, your revenue estimates may have been based on data and customer numbers before social distancing. If necessary, rework any figures that are affected by today’s new buying patterns and space requirements. While we all hope COVID-19 goes away soon, being conservative with your forecast and anticipate the virus to have an impact for at least the next year.
Note Recent Market Changes with Up to Date Information
Market data is a great way of showing that your business plan is detailed and thought-out. However, when things change rapidly market data can quickly become obsolete. Check your plan: According to Jeff Nock Iowa, if you are still using data reports from 2018 or 2019, you should at least put in a caveat about how these things may have changed in 2020, and use the most recent reports for your market that you can find.
Use Digital Tools to Save Money, Scale Up, and Protect Employees
Underline how remote work and digital tools will help your employees practice social distancing, while also saving your new business money and allowing you to easily scale up in the future. These are three benefits that a single digital platform can provide, and in Jeff Nock Iowa’s experience investors like to see this kind of efficiency.
Jeff Nock Iowa doesn’t want to predict an exact timeline, but in the future lockdowns and social distancing, requirements could certainly stop. If your venture is expecting significant changes due to COVID, then you need to include a lockdown exit strategy in your plan. What, exactly, will you change if all social distancing measures are ended, and how will you manage this change?
Identify New Threats and New Opportunities
A robust SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis is an excellent feature for any business plan. But make sure your SWOT analysis takes into account any changes caused by COVID-19. That could include threats caused by people not wanting or being to attend in larger groups, or weaknesses like orders taking longer because of cleaning practices. It could also include opportunities about new potential lines of sale or greater popularity because social distancing is easy to practice at your business (Jeff Nock Iowa saw this with Airbnb vs. hotels this year).
And Note All Your Safety Precautions
Finally, Jeff Nock Iowa reminds entrepreneurs to always include the safety precautions, protocols, social distancing, equipment, gear, and any other processes or materials that they will be using to ensure customer and employee safety. This is now a necessary part of the modern business plan, at least for the present.