The idea of writing a business plan might feel a little daunting, but with some planning and the right focus, a business plan can help you to define exactly what your business is, where it’s headed and how it’s going to get there.
Importantly, a well-written business plan can also help you to secure finance if you’re a start-up business, or for any expansion plans.
What is your business?
The most important part of a business plan is to define exactly what you do right at the beginning. This will give the rest of the plan a focus and also help any external parties and potential investors to understand what you do.
To do this you’ll need to go into detail about:
- What your business does or will be doing
- Your products or services
- Whether it will be a bricks and mortar business or operate online (or both)
- What your objectives are for the business, and how you’ll measure your progress towards them.
Identifying your target customers
Do some research beforehand so that you have a clear idea of who your ideal customer is. Think about the type of person you want to buy from you, including:
- Their age
- Their lifestyle
- Their occupation, if they work
- Whether they would already have bought a similar service or goods before
- What will make them want to buy from you?
- How you’ll promote your business to them effectively.
Identifying your customers makes it much easier to successfully promote your business as you already have an insight into what they buy, what they need and how to engage with them.
Naming your business
If you haven’t already named your business, think very carefully about how you want your name to reflect what you do. Pick a name that’s memorable and easy to pronounce, make sure there are no other businesses with a similar name and that the website address is available. If there’s a possibility that you might expand into other countries, it’s also worth checking the meaning of any name you choose just in case it means something you don’t want to be associated with in a different language!
Before you think about taking on staff, decide how many employees you’ll need, how you’ll pay them and whether you’ll offer full or part time employment. Also think about whether you want to employ people as permanent staff members or prefer to work with contractors.
Some of the things you’ll need to consider in your business plan are:
- Your legal responsibilities towards any employees
- What training or equipment they will need to carry out the work
- How they will be managed
- How much they will be paid – does it reflect similar positions locally?
- The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
- Will taking on staff benefit the business, and if so, how?
Drafting a business plan
Now you’ve got the content for your plan, you’ll need to compile the actual document.
The main thing to remember is that a business plan needs to be clear, realistic and to the point. Write it in plain English and don’t include industry jargon or acronyms unless absolutely necessary – the person reading the plan may not be familiar with them.
Include the research you’ve done into key areas such as your ideal client, and any evidence you have to support it. Include an action plan with targets and milestones and a conclusion. For detailed help and guidance about what you should include in your business plan and some helpful templates, go to the GOV.UK Business Plan website, or speak to Emma Stevens at Emma Stevens Accountancy Limited for advice.
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