Writing a business case can feel a bit dirty, especially if the case is about your own service or product. If you’ve created something of your own, you probably did it because you felt an inherent need to do so. There was a gap in the market that needed to be filled, and you filled it. In a sense, that was the extent your internal business case so it can be hard to create one and sound believable.
The other difficulty with writing a business case is that you’re often writing them for people who have read so many, that they would rather toss yours in the trash or mark it as junk. The thing they want to read is a business case that’s free of all the pitchy, annoying, salesy rubbish they’re used to reading. This is how you can do it.
First, Let’s Define It
You can’t write a business case if you don’t know what it is. In the simplest terms, a business case is an explanation as to why your business, product or service should even exist, and why it is beneficial for other stakeholders to get involved.
The Steps to Writing One
- Make Your Case
The first part of your case is usually called a problem statement or a justification, and it is basically a summary of why you are creating a business case. The focus in this element should be on making a clear message, no superlatives or emotive language, or you’ll have already waded into sales pitch territory.
- Offer Solutions
Good businesses are involved in providing solutions to problems. So, identify the issues that your business can solve, outline how these problems are affecting the addressee, and you’ve already sold yourself without actually selling yourself.
- Provide a List of Advantages
After you’ve listed the problems, and how your company can solve them, you need to show the quantitative and qualitative benefits of having these problems solved. For example, if your offering content marketing, outline how site traffic and conversion will increase (quantitative), while also improving the user-experience (qualitative).
- Be Honest About Risks
Once you’ve defined the scope of the project, you also need to outline the possible risks involved. By being honest about risks, and offering risk mitigation, you immediately show the reader that this is more than a sales pitch. It is a thoughtfully considered business case that has scope, and awareness of how to reach an end-goal.
- Outline The Budget and Demonstrate Funding
So many business cases fall down by including a budget, without actually demonstrating where the money will come from. How much labour do you need? Will that labour be expensive or cheap? How can you save on labour costs? Where you can raise money, or how can you increase profitability to offset costs and generate profit? At the end of the day, a business case is always about money.
- Create a Plan
You need to put a lot of work in your plan because most people will flick straight to it. Your plan should include goals, a scope (start, end, tasks involved, technology, labour, etc.), project phases, checkpoints and the measurable tangibles that can be used to determine if the project is on track.
- The Executive Summary
This section actually appears at the front of the business case, but like all summaries, it should be written last. It is a summary of everything else you have written, and it should offer precise information on problems, solutions, budget, ROI, scope, as well as some info on the team behind the business.
Selling Your Case Without Selling It
A business case is mostly a box-ticking exercise, so don’t mess with the formula listed above. But there are a few things you can do to make your case an enjoyable experience for its desired target:
- Be Wary of Words: Big slabs of text are boring and turn people off. People love imagery. Instead of providing a step-by-step plan, why not turn it into an infographic? You don’t even have to submit your case as a Word or PDF document. You can provide a PowerPoint, or if you have the expertise, you could even produce a video! It’s about doing anything you can to separate yourself from the pack.
- Create the Need: As already mentioned, the best way to avoid a sales pitch is to create a need for you to fill. That need should be identified early on, so it is in the mind of the reader the entire time. And don’t be afraid to repeat it throughout!
- Be a Human: People like dealing with people, not businesses. You need the facts and figures, but you also need a story. By including the story of your business in the case, you give the reader something to connect with. When you create this connection, the decision moves beyond mere facts and figures and becomes a question of investing in something that they know and believe in.
Put these steps and tips into action, and your business case will sell itself, without all the sleazy sales-talk.