How to write a business plan

A business plan is crucial if you are thinking of setting up on your own. It will enable you to think carefully about what you will need to make your business work and is essential if you are trying to gain investment for your fledgling business. It should be a document that you continually refer to as your business develops.

A good business plan will cover the following points:

Executive summary – often written last but always read first. It is a summary of your business proposition, experience of the management team,  the product or service, summary of sales anticipated, market and financial summary. Try and keep it to 1-2 pages at the most.  This will be what investors want to see. If they like what they read they will read the rest of the plan in more detail.

Business background – detail as to the experience of the management involved. How did the business come about? What are its aims? Perform a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats/risks) that face your business.

Product/Service -What is your product/service? What are its selling points?  What is the price? Who are you aiming this product/service at?

Operational info – How will your business operate? Do you have premises? What will the overheads be? Who will manage  the company day to day?

Marketing Plan – Who are your competitors? Have you carried out market research to see if there is a need for this product/service? How much do you plan to spend on marketing? What sales tactics will you use? How exactly will you advertise/market yourself?

Financial info – a full breakdown of costs anticipated, investment required and finance already provided by management team, overhead costings, sales projections, profit and loss projections, and cashflow forecast for the next five years.

For more information on writing a business plan go to www.businesslink.gov.uk . They provide all the details and advice you need to get your idea off the ground.

In addition,  most banks have a small business advisor who can help you with all of the above.

Good luck!

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