It is essential to have a realistic, working business plan when you’re starting a new enterprise or developing an existing business. A business plan is a written document that describes your businesses objectives, its strategies, the market it is in and its financial forecasts. It has many functions, from securing external funding to measuring success within your business.
There are many benefits to creating and managing a realistic business plan.
Even if you just use it in-house, it can:
• help you spot potential pitfalls before they happen
• structure the financial side of your business efficiently
• focus your efforts on developing your business
• work as a measure of your success
You should also bear in mind that a business plan is a living document that will help you monitor your performance and stay on track and will therefore need updating and changing as your business grows. Regardless of whether you intend to use your plan internally, or as a document for external people, it should still take an objective and honest look at your business. Failing to do this could mean that you and others have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved and when.
• An executive summary - this is an overview of the business you want to start. It is vital.
• A short description of the business opportunity - who you are, what you plan to sell and to whom.
• Your marketing and sales strategy - why you think people will buy from you, what you want to sell and how you plan to sell to them.
• You and your team - 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 translates everything you have said in the previous sections into numbers.
To make sure your business plan has maximum impact, there are a number of points to observe.
Keep the plan short - it’s more likely to be read if it’s a manageable length. Think about the presentation and keep it professional.
Tips for presenting your plan
• Use plain language so anyone can understand it – avoid jargon!
• Edit the plan carefully - get at least two people to read it and check that it makes sense.
• Ensure you use email-friendly formatting – word or pdf
• Include a cover and a contents page
The time spent is an investment which will pay dividends in the long term. Use the template below to get started.
Business Plan Template