You don’t need to be a new business to have a business plan. Whether you have an ongoing strategy, or ideas for expansion, a business plan is a good thing to have.
Most successful businesses not only have business plans, but regularly meet to discuss problems and solutions, and how to adapt to changes and take advantage of opportunities. If you are a small business or a sole-trader, you might not need to go this far, but to have clear goals set out will help you work towards them positively, and help your business to grow and flourish.
Read on to find out how to create a great business plan, and how this can help your business.
Why do I need a business plan?
- Strengthens applications for loans and grants
- Gives your business a clear plan to follow
- Enables you to measure your business progress
- Helps all of your staff to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’
- Gives insight and helps you see problems and obstacles
Whether your business is new or well-established, having a clear goal for your future will strengthen your company.
Key aspects of your business plan
Whatever your business, your business plan will probably contain these aspects:
Finance – This is the bricks and mortar of your business. Incomings, outgoings, and cash flow, and forecasting these attentively, is vital to making sure your plan has a good foundation. If your business will not make any money, or at least have a sound control of its financial position, the rest of the business plan might as well be for nothing.
Your business objectives – What do you envisage your business doing in a year’s time? Will you have expanded or consolidated? What are your goals? Are they realistic? Having your goals set out and clarified will help your whole team to work towards them.
Research – If you are expanding into a new field of business, have you investigated all the possibilities thoroughly? Do you have a reliable market? Have you found dependable suppliers? Who is your competition? All these questions will need to be considered, and answered, if your business plan is to be taken seriously.
Business needs – What does the business need to achieve its plan? More capital? Materials? Larger premises? More staff? It is vital to have the infrastructure in place to achieve your business plan, or the investment to obtain this. Naturally, you will not attract investors without a business plan. If you can show investors your plan will succeed, if it has a certain piece of equipment or a cash injection, then they will be highly likely to invest in you.
Tips on writing
Make the plan evidence-based – Use the research you have completed as the basis for your business goals. If you know there is a market for your product, show the person reading your plan how you know this.
Keep the financial calculations clear – Showing your reader how much you expect to make, and setting this out in a clear chart, month by month, and year by year, will help them understand if you are a worthwhile investment.
Have your business plan proof-read – Find someone impartial and knowledgeable to read through your business plan. This applies both to the finances and the writing itself. Even the most skilled writers may make mistakes, and the best accountants have miscalculated forecasts. A second pair of eyes will help you avoid any obvious mistakes, and also help you tidy your plan to look as professional and consistent as possible.
Having a perfect business plan is great, but the final important thing you will need to do is put it to good use. Make sure the right people get to see it, and you will find investment will come to you!
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