Business Plans - Highlights
Business planning is essential for the success of any business. A business plan provides direction, keeps you on track and is usually a requirement when you seek finance. Business plans may vary based on the type and structure of your business.
Tips about how to write a business plan
When writing your business plan and before you start using it, consider the following:
Do your research- You will need to make quite a few decisions about your business including structure, marketing strategies and finances before you can complete your plan. By having the right information to hand you also can be more accurate in your forecasts and analysis.
Determine who the plan is for- Does it have more than one purpose? Will it be used internally or will third parties be involved? Deciding the purpose of the plan can help you target your answers. If third parties are involved, what are they interested in? Although don't assume they are just interested in the finance part of your business. They will be looking for the whole package.
Do not attempt to complete your business plan from start to finish- First decide which sections are relevant for your business and set aside the sections that don't apply. You can always go back to the other sections later. Get some help - If you aren't confident in completing the plan yourself, you can enlist the help of a professional (i.e. Business Enterprise Centre, business adviser, or accountant) to look through your plan and provide you with advice.
Actual vs. expected figures- Existing businesses can include actual figures in the plan, but if your business is just starting out and you are using expected figures for turnover and finances you will need to clearly show that these are expected figures or estimates.
Write your executive summary last- Use as few words as possible. You want to get to the point but not overlook important facts. This is also your opportunity to sell yourself. But don't overdo it. You want prospective banks, investors, partners or wholesalers to be able to quickly read your plan, find it realistic and be motivated by what they read.
Review. Review- Your business plan is there to make a good impression. Errors will only detract from your professional image so ask a number of impartial people to proofread your final plan.
Tips of what to include in a business plan
A business plan provides direction, keeping you on track and is usually a requirement when you seek finance. Depending on your business type, your plan could include the following sections:
Title page- This describes what the plan is for and includes general information on your business.
Business Summary- A one-page overview written after your business plan is finalized.
About your business- This is typically called the management plan or operations plan. It covers details about your business including structure, registrations, location and premises, staff, and products/services.
About your market- This is the marketing plan. It should outline your marketing analysis of the industry you are entering, your customers and your competitors. This section should also cover your key marketing targets and your strategies for delivering on these targets.
SWOT- Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats expectations of your business market.
About your future- This section covers your plans for the future and can include a vision statement, business goals and key business milestones.
About your finances- The financial plan includes how you'll finance your business, costing and financial projections (Balance Sheet, Profit or Loss and Cash Flows statements).
Supporting documentation- List all of your attachments under this heading in your plan for referral. For example: copies of emergency procedures, maps, resumes, or financial tables.
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