If you’re thinking of starting a business or a new business venture then you will need to make a business plan. It’s something that we all know of but actually writing a good business plan can be tricky.
Do I need a business plan?
If you’re serious about starting your own business venture then yes. A business plan is there to help you build your business by outlining all the steps you will need to take. Not only is it helpful for you, but it’s crucial if you are planning on acquiring investors, loans, grants, etc.
Realistically, you can write your business plan in a day, but it does require you to have all of the information to hand. That includes market research. The best way to start preparing for your business plan is to look at examples.
1. Look at examples
Examples will show you what others are looking for (if you plan on showing it to people) as well as what other information you may need. You get a feel for how your business plan should be laid out and the style of writing you should use.
When looking at examples, be sure to jot down anything that stands out to you that you’d like to include in yours. It’s easy to forget. Also, take note of the parts you will need extra research for (i.e. the competition).
2. Do your research
Every business plan requires some level of research. For starters, you need to understand your market. You may have a brilliant idea, but you need to see who else may be offering the same thing. Once you know that, you can figure out how you’re going to compete with them.
It also helps being able to have evidence of people who are interested in your business. For example, you could conduct a survey and from that survey, you can draw up charts that back up the strengths of your business idea.
3. Download a template
The easiest way to start writing a business plan is to use a template. There are thousands available on the internet so there is no need for you to waste time starting from zero.
Microsoft has templates inbuilt that you can access easily. A quick Google search for “business plan template” will offer up many other resources. The Prince’s Trust is a great place to look for business plan information and templates as they encourage young people to start their own businesses. There are also templates on the GOV.UK site.
Your business plan should be as short as possible, but not miss out on important details. There should be between 7 and 11 sections depending on how you want to split up the information. Below is a brief outline you can use:
Executive Summary - This part is written last and should be no longer than a page. It is basically an overview of the entire business plan but laid out as a pitch, briefly explaining your business idea.
Company Overview - This part is comprised of the: company summary, mission statement, company history, markets & services, operation structure, financial goals. Remember that you will go over some of these parts in more detail, so this is just an overview of each of those subsections.
Products/Services - This part is comprised of the: opportunity, service/product overview, key participants, and pricing. Go into detail here on exactly what you’re offering.
Market - This part is likely to be quite long. It includes: industry type, market segmentation, competition, SWOT analysis, and any market research conducted (both primary and secondary). Diagrams would be perfect for this section.
Order Fulfilment - This part basically goes into detail bout how you will deliver your product or service to your client. Starting from how they will place an order, following the entire process (in detail) to payment and customer care. Be mindful of the technology you may need throughout the process.
Marketing/Sales Plan - For this section, include information on the: key messages, marketing activities (how you will market your business, through what platforms, etc.) sales strategy, budgeting for the marketing, etc.
Financial Forecast - This section needs to be incredibly detailed if you are starting a new business. Outline every single one of our costs for every month, for the next year. Predict the sales based on interest in your product or fact. Be realistic with the initial sales as well as growth. It’s easy to overestimate, but that is why you have a plan in place.
That’s the basis of a business plan, so hopefully, you can create your own. Good luck with your business venture!