Solar farms are the energy source of the future. According to research, the solar energy market is expected to more than double by 2024. Turning your solar farm business idea into reality will demand a plan that portrays and explains your vision and mission. That formal document is known as a business plan. All you need to do is learn how to write one.
A well-written business plan can benefit you in several ways. You’ll prove that you have thought out this idea down to every detail, show how the idea can be realized, and attract investors. So, if you want to build a strong foundation for the realization of your solar farm business, you’ll need to dedicate yourself to writing a spotless business plan. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.
Here are the 13 crucial things you should take into account when writing a business plan for a solar farm.
As a formal document, a business plan needs to be clear, focused, and relevant. You’ll need to set and use appropriate language and tone throughout the entire document.
That means you’ll need to apply these simple rules:
- use ordinary, everyday language
- don’t use jargon
- avoid overly technical terminology
- don’t use poetic language
- be straightforward
To put it simply, you should opt for simple and inviting language. For example:
- Our business goal is to become one of the top solar farms in the United States. Our plans include collaboration with leading solar panel manufacturing companies that will help us comply with the high standards of the leaders in the solar industry.
There is no strict rule on how long the business plan should be. It all depends on your intent.
The length can vary from a single page to a multi-page document. Adapt the content to the purpose.
For example, venture capitalists will probably expect a detailed plan. However, if you want to start with an outline and make updates regularly as you come to an agreement with the other party, a lean plan will suffice.
Therefore, don’t feel obliged to fill the pages with words if your entire plan can fit on just a couple of pages. Instead, focus on value and information, and make sure every word you include in your business plan counts.
Now, we can discuss the actual elements and sections of your business plan. The first one is your executive summary.
As you may have guessed, this section needs to summarize the key points of your business plan. The executive summary should lead the investors (for example) into the story, and make them interested in reading the whole document.
- your reasons for creating the plan
- what makes you the right business for investment, collaboration, etc.
- why are you so passionate about this plan?
- what makes you think it will be a huge success?
If you plan to present the business plan to different readers (e.g. investors, bankers, or customers) adapt the summary to their interest in your business. The executive summary should clarify why reading your plan is worthy of their time.
If you nail this section, you’ll up your chances for sealing the deal.
The next thing you should do is provide some basic information about your company. Those reading the business plan will like to know a bit more about who you are and what type of a business do you run.
So, start with a simple introduction. Cover the basics that will explain who you are, what you do, and what you plan to achieve. The information you can list in this section is:
- the company name
- address and geographic reach
- when and why you established the business
- how you’ve improved over the years
- your environmental mission
- your vision statement
This section should help those reading the plan understand your business on a more personal level, and potentially gain some more trust in you as a partner.
Share the valuable information they’ll care about and present your business properly.
Products and services
After you finish introducing yourself and your business, you should move on to the actual products and services that your solar farm is going to offer.
Write down what you offer and how your products and services align with your goals. You should be very specific about:
- the amount of energy your solar farm will produce (monthly, yearly, etc.)
- the number you plan to reach with the growth of your solar farm
- your ideas on the expansion of your products and services
- your expectations for returning the investment
You can also portray your products’ reliability and efficiency by comparing the costs of traditional energy producers with your solution. Or, you could differentiate your products from what other renewable energy producers offer.
Make sure that you list everything your business will provide. For example:
- supply of power
- solar panel installation
- solar panel repair and maintenance
The more details you provide, the more professional you’ll come across as. They need to see you’ve thought this through to the smallest details, and you’ll leave nothing unplanned.
Another thing that potential investors or partners will want to know is whether or not there’s a need for a solar farm on the market you’re targeting. That means that you should add proof that you’ve done a thorough market analysis.
To achieve that, you’ll need to elaborate on the main factors of the market you’ve analyzed:
- industry analysis
- predictions for the renewable energy sector
- demand for your services (customers’ needs and requirements)
- for whom your solar farm will generate electricity (e.g. government entities, individual customers, organizations, etc.)
- 3rd-party analysis of your solar farm’s potential
Show them that you know the market well enough and you’ve gathered the data necessary for making an appearance on it.
Without this data, your business plan may seem like just another shot in the dark.
A marketing plan depends largely on the competition you have on the target market. And, without analyzing the competitors, you won’t be able to predict the potential success of your business plan.
That means you need to provide an analysis of your competitors. That includes reflecting on your unique value proposition. In this section, you should form the advantages of your solar farm in two aspects:
- how your business will stand out among competitive solar farms, large hydroelectric utilities, or wind turbine farms
- how your solar farm will gain market share from traditional well-established energy suppliers?
Cover your strategy to stand out, offer something new, and get the attention of the people your business will depend on. You need to show you understand the current trends and competitors on the market and have a clear idea of how to deal with them.
Next, you’ll need to elaborate more on the specific target group of people or businesses that you’ll try to win over. You need to show you’ve analyzed them and gathered enough information that will help you understand their needs.
So, in this section, you’ll need to define your target customers. You could divide them into several different target groups such as:
- government entities
- large businesses
- individual customers
For example, you can share that you’ll engage in a direct marketing approach and offer different packages to different clients that suit their budget, industry, and demand.
Make sure to show you’re ready to take on any target group and have specific strategies to reach their attention and offer them exactly what they need.
It’s impossible to launch and maintain a solar farm on our own. You’ll need to surround yourself with professionals who’ll make a great team and help you make this business plan a success.
Make sure to include them in your business plan.
Write about your organizational structure and list the following:
- key employees
- their responsibilities
- the hierarchy of management
- team organization
- specific tasks they’ll cover
It would be a great addition to this business plan if you already had specific people in mind for different positions in your team. If so, make sure to include concise, professional biographies of key personnel to prove their expertise in that field.
This will give additional points to your plan and make it seem much more professional.
Describing your objectives and milestones will prove that you don’t only have a vision – you have a thought out plan. Create a roadmap that showcases your targets as well as approximate deadlines.
That means you should further elaborate n:
- phases of your plan’s development (preparation, realization, assessments, et.)
- details and timeframes for each of the phases
- steps you plan on taking to achieve different goals you’ve set
If you’ve already covered some relevant steps such as obtained certification with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, list that as well. The readers of the business plan should be aware of your accomplished milestones.
Every business plan needs to cover the budget. You have to show that you’ve got the numbers for your solar farm figured out, and you’ve calculated all the details for your financial plan.
Here’s what you need to show:
- cost analysis and profitability plan need to show that your solar farm is a worthy investment
- considering that a solar farm asks for significant upfront costs, justify those costs
- calculate how much time you’ll need to get to a point of investment return
- calculate how your income will grow over time
- list potential funding sources like government grants or bank loans
Explain your plan for a cost structure that will lead to a positive cash flow. Also, specify how the solar farm will be financed before it starts bringing income.
Your financial plan will be the most interesting point for some people, so make sure you show your professional side in this section.
Include Solid Proofs
Everything that you cover in your business plan needs to be supported with solid proof. You can’t just ask the investors to trust you for it. You need to show them you’ve done your homework.
Therefore, make sure to include:
- case studies
- market research studies
Show credible data that you used to construct your plan and make sure that it comes from trustworthy and reliable sources.
This way, your business plan will be solid and effective. It will show your professionalism and will give you the integrity you need.
Finally, you have to make sure your business plan is accurately written and 100% polished. You don’t want to allow any mistakes to find their way into your final version of the business plan.
This is important because potential investors, partners, or any other professional involved in this process will be disappointed to see:
- a typo
- a grammar mistake
- weak punctuation
- spelling errors
Therefore, make sure to edit and proofread the plan before you finalize it.
You can even hire professional editors or writers from writing services such as TrustMyPaper and TopEssayWriting to help you out. They’ll spot and correct any type of mistake, inconsistency, or confusion.
Don’t settle for anything less than perfect.
Even though the business plan needs to be modified to your specific needs, the above-mentioned insights will push you in the right direction. Take your time to craft a business plan that will present your solar farm in the best light.
Bear in mind that a business plan can be a live document. It can be changed and rearranged for different purposes. Therefore, always make sure that the plan you write will resonate with the people who’ll read it.
The Editorial Team at SolarFeeds is made up of knowledgeable solar industry insiders and experts who have a passion to share valuable, helpful and educational information. Aiming at becoming the best place to learn solar, the publication partners with industry thought leaders, journalists and influencers. If you want to publish your articles on SolarFeeds Magazine, click here.