Creating a Business Development Plan

Build Your Business

Author: Michael Russo | June 14, 2023

Whether a contractor is securing funding for an entirely new venture or simply adding a commercial roofing or maintenance division to an existing steep-slope roofing line-up, a business development plan is often required, and creating one is an exercise that needs to be well-executed for success.

A person works on a business plan.
A good business development plan guides the contractor through each stage of starting and managing a new or expanding enterprise.

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There are several reasons to create an effective business development plan, including:

  • To raise money from potential investors or lenders, who require a thorough business and financial plan.
  • To make sound decisions as an entrepreneur. A business plan can help define and focus one's ideas and strategies.
  • To help identify any potential weaknesses and share with experts who may give invaluable advice.
  • To communicate ideas with stakeholders to secure investment capital.
  • To convince prospective employees to join your business.
  • To obtain credit from roofing suppliers.
  • To attract new customers.

A good business development plan guides the contractor through each stage of starting and managing a new or expanding enterprise.

Business plans are also used as communications tools to bring on new business partners. These parties want to feel confident they'll see a return on their time and/or investment. The business plan can be used to persuade people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.

Types of Business Development Plans

There are two main types of business plans available to roofing contractors: traditional and simple. A traditional business plan is lengthy and detailed and expounds on both short- and long-term objectives. In comparison, a simple business plan — often called a "lean start-up" — focuses on a few key metrics in concise detail to quickly share data with investors.

Traditional business plans are most common and use a standard structure that helps motivate companies to include greater detail in each section of the plan. Lean start-up plans also feature a commonly used structure but only focus on the key elements of the plan and can be as short as one page in length.

The Traditional Business Plan

This type of business plan often acts as a blueprint for a new business endeavor. Lenders and investors typically require this type of plan.

Here's an example of one format:

  • Executive Summary: A summary of the business plan, which should be written last. It can include a mission statement, market needs and solutions, as well as an overview of key financials.
  • Company History: When the company was founded and the type of business.
  • Products & Services: Explanation of the services and products offered. You can also include information on product lifespans and the benefits of one's services to the property owner.
  • Market Analysis: Relevant industry data proving that the business will serve a market need, such as an aging local or regional roofing inventory in need of replacement or repair.
  • Management Structure: May include an organizational chart of key employees in this section, with resumes included in the Appendix.
  • Financial Plan: Funding requests, income statements, cash-flow projections, budgets and break-even analysis.
  • Appendix: Supporting documents like credit histories, roofing licenses, resumes, and additional financial and research data.

The traditional business plan serves as a detailed roadmap that outlines objectives and the methods used to achieve them.

The Simple Business Plan

The lean start-up or simple business plan is typically comprised of several sections containing high-value information and metrics to attract investors.

Lean start-up formats often include charts to describe one's value proposition, infrastructure, customers and finances. They are most useful for visualizing tradeoffs and fundamental facts about a young company.

A single-page, lean start-up plan might include:

  • Problems.
  • Solutions.
  • Key metrics.
  • Unique proposition.
  • Advantages.
  • Channels.
  • Customer targets.
  • Cost structures.

A more fleshed-out version of a lean start-up business plan might include:

  • Key Partnerships: Manufacturers, distributors, subcontractors and other strategic partners.
  • Key Activities: How your business will gain a competitive advantage (through industry knowledge, safety and marketing programs, technical expertise, etc.)
  • Key Resources: Staff, capital and intellectual properties.
  • Customer Segments and Relationships: A description of the ideal customer experience.
  • Channels: How you will interface with your customer base.
  • Cost Structure: Reduce costs or maximize value? Define the company's strategy and the most significant internal costs to attain it.
  • Revenue Streams: For roofing contractors, this consists of direct sales efforts.

When using a lean start-up, contractors should always be prepared to provide more detail when requested.

Business Plan Software

Software programs take the legwork out of writing a business plan. These applications simplify the process by eliminating the need for contractors to write their plans from scratch.

The best programs offer step-by-step wizards, templates, financial tools, charts and graphs, third-party applications, collaboration tools and video tutorials., and are all cloud-hosted applications that offer a plethora of tools starting at $15 a month. For many contractors, this is a small price to pay for professional advice. is another online program for writing business plans with a focus on financial projections.

However, the best business plans aren't always generic offerings using templates from the internet. Above all, contractors should strive to entice readers with an original plan that demonstrates its singularity and a strong potential for success.

Why Some Business Plans Fail

Roofing contractors must ask the hard questions and grapple with the realities of the marketplace when creating a business plan. Focus on being realistic, without padding earnings projections or de-emphasizing the competition. Market research must be up-to-date and show a local demand for the type of roofing service being offered.

While you may find some business plan templates as long as 30 pages, any plan longer than 10-12 pages is probably pushing the attention span of most readers. No matter what outline is being followed, typographical or grammatical errors and poor formatting will take the shine off of every business plan. Be sure to proofread your work several times and have someone you trust as a second set of eyes to check things over.

Before sitting down to write, it's also critical to differentiate between a business plan and a strategic plan. The latter is a business framework that existing companies use to improve their business processes and streamline their operations.

The focus of a strategic plan is much more internal in nature, while the business plan concentrates on selling outside investors on one's ideas. The two processes are markedly different but can often appear similar when doing one's initial research. Be sure to put your energy into the correct type of plan as you get started.

Updating the Business Plan

Keep in mind that as operations grow and evolve, the business plan can continually be updated to serve as a living document that adjusts to changing circumstances. However, the core goals of one's business plan should never change.

Creating a business development plan can be a time-consuming process, but it should never be rushed. As you create your plan, it can be helpful to talk with other small business owners or experienced business consultants.

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