What to include in your business plan
There's a lot to think about when you're setting up a business or going into self-employment. If you plan carefully you'll give yourself the best chance of success. A good way to start your planning is to write a business plan.
Your plan should include:
- An executive summary - this is an overview of the business you want to start.
- Your vision and business idea - a short description of who you are, what you plan to sell or offer, why and to whom, your business goals and key selling points.
- Your marketing and sales strategy - provides details on customers, competitors, market trends and tactics.
- Your management team and personnel - your credentials and the people you plan to recruit to work with you.
- Your operations - your premises, production facilities, your management information systems and IT.
- Financial forecasts - this section provides details of cash flow forecasts, profit and loss accounts and balance sheets.
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Access free start-up business support from your local council. They will organise one-to-one mentoring sessions with your local business adviser and provide tailored guidance to develop your business plan.
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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.