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Writing a business plan

Writing a business plan

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Helping businesses in the West of England write a business plan

Once you have done your market research it's time to get everything down on paper. The business plan is a way of clarifying your thoughts, spotting potential problems, setting out your goals and measuring your progress in a way that can be easily communicated. Your business plan should be constructed in such a way that it can be quickly and easily updated.

Below are a few headings that will help you formulate your ideas. The complexity and detail that you include will depends on your particular business. In the Useful Links section you'll find websites where you can download Business Plan templates.

Details and Vision

This section should include:

  • your contact details. This should includes: the business name, address, web address and email.
  • the legal status of your company, whether you are a sole trader, partnership or limited company. You can find more help on choosing your legal status here.
  • when you wish to start your business.
  • which sector your business is in. For example: retail or construction.
  • what your business will actually do.
  • why customers would prefer to use your business rather than a competitor.
  • how your business will develop over time. 
  • any patents, trademarks or copyrights that your business has or will need. There is more help here on protecting the intellectual property of your business.

Aims

This section should include:

  • a summary of what your business is striving for. You do not need to include too much detail.
  • the legal obligations that your business will need to adhere to. You can find out more about your legal obligations here.
  • what you are looking to achieve in your first year.
  • what you wish to achieve in the longer term.

When stating what you wish to achieve, make the targets measurable so you can assess your business performance. You can find out more about creating measurable SMART targets here.

Market Research

This section should include:

  • details of your intended customers. This is called the demographic and can include information like: age, gender, profession etc.
  • results from your market research.
  • potential new markets.
  • market trends.
  • details of your competition .

You can find help on researching your market here.

Sales & Marketing

This section should include:

  • details of how your business will generate an income.
  • how you will engage with your customers. This will be guided by your market research and how your potential customers have asked you to communicate with them This could include: face-to-face, by phone, via email or internet.
  • your pricing structure.
  • the cost of running to you of providing your products or service.
  • how much extra your customers are willing to pay.
  • a plan of how you intend to market your business. There is more help on creating a marketing plan here.

Finance

This section should include:

  • your estimated set-up and running costs.
  • sales forecasts.
  • profit and loss forecasts.
  • cashflow projections..
  • any assumptions that you have made
  • any risks to your forecasts and the steps that you will take to minimise them.

The easiest way to show this information is on a spreadsheet. Create one for your first year. On it include all your costs (including: stock, premises, equipment, materials, transport, staff and insurances) along with your monthly predictions of sales based on your market research. By using a spreadsheet you will get a good idea of when your business is likely to break even. Also by plotting your costs and sales monthly, you will be able to see your cashflow and identify the parts of the year where you will need more finance.

There is more information on obtaining finance here.

Executive Summary

Although this is the last part of the business plan to be completed it is actually the first part of your business plan presentation. It briefly summarises the main points contained within the business plan.

The Executive Summary should be brief, straightforward and uncomplicated. it should be written in a way that will entice and excite the reader so they will want to read the full business plan and find out more.

The following video from GOV.UK gives more detail to the information above. 

Useful Links:

Growth Hub providers – help with creating a business plan

Business is GREAT Britain - offers guidance on how to write a business plan along with tools and templates designed to ensure you consider all aspects of your business.

Start Up Donut - provides information on how to write a business plan.

The Prince's Trust - produce a selection of business plan templates.

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone regarding writing a business plan, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

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