Tailor your business plan to secure funding

Essential information to include in a business plan

Guide

Potential investors and lenders will look closely at your business plan to help them decide whether to risk their money.

There is no standard format but most plans include:

  • An executive summary highlighting the main points - to catch people's attention. See business plan executive summary - the dos and don'ts.
  • Details of key personnel with an organisational chart showing individual responsibilities.
  • Market research - details of competitors and how your product or service fits into the market - eg who your potential customers are and why you think they will buy your product or service. See your business markets and competitors.
  • Your marketing plan - how you are going to get your product or service in front of potential customers, together with any assumptions made when setting your targets. See write a marketing plan.
  • Financial information - eg key ratios. These can be used to compare your business' performance against industry benchmarks. It's also a good idea to give details of any major expenditure you have made on long-term assets. Many lenders ask for three years' financial information. If this is not available, supply details about trading to date. See financial forecasts for your business plan.
  • How you will manage credit, expenditure, stock planning and control, and debtors and creditors.

For further information see write a business plan: step-by-step.

When seeking funding, it is essential to include:

1. A cashflow forecast indicating the amount of funding you need and why. For a start-up, include estimates of how much finance you will require for two to three years or until you start to make a profit. Indicate contingency funds that might be needed for rough patches. This is usually between 10 and 20 per cent of the total funding requirement - see cashflow management.

2. Financial forecasts for a three to five-year period. Try to present this information in the same way as historical financial information, so that straightforward comparisons can be made.

3. Clear information on how a loan will be repaid, how investors can get their money back, and when.

Download a spreadsheet containing cashflow forecast, profit and loss forecast and sales forecast templates (XLS, 44K).

For further guidance see financial forecasts for your business plan.