Guide

What to include in your business plan

Writing a business plan: 5 things you should know

It is essential to have a business plan when you're starting a business.  Your business plan has many functions. It will help you to: clarify your business idea; spot potential problems; set your goals; measure your progress; and plan growth. You’ll need a business plan if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank. The following tips will help you to prepare a successful business plan.

1. Outline your business goals: Provide details of how you are going to develop your business, when you are going to do it, who will be involved and how you will manage the finances. Clarity on these issues is essential for securing finance or investment.

2. Research your markets and competitors: Demonstrate that you're fully aware of the marketplace that you're planning to operate in. Highlight significant trends and drivers. You should prove that your business will be able to attract customers despite potential competition.

3. Provide realistic financial forecasts: Show financial projections that support what you have said about your business. Your forecasts should run for three years. The first 12 months' forecasts should have the most detail.

4. Plan your executive summary: The executive summary outlines the key points of your entire business plan. It is usually the first section that people will read. Include highlights from each section of the document. It is a good idea to write the executive summary last - make it engaging and avoid jargon.

5. Present in a professional format: A well-presented plan will reinforce the positive impression you want to create of your business. Use a business plan template to keep you focused and to simplify the process of creating your business plan.

For more advice see write a business plan: step-by-step.