DegreeDiary

How To Write A Business Plan

These days, there is so much competition for jobs that there has never been a better time to start your own business.

When you’re seeking financial backing and sponsorship for your fledgling small business idea, a well-written and inspiring business plan is essential. An effective business plan clearly sets out your objectives for the future and the strategy you’re proposing implementing in order to achieve them. Your business plan is also there for you to refer to as you grow. Use it to keep you on track and to make sure that your end goals are still clear in your mind.

What information should your business plan contain?

Your business plan should set out the nature of your business; what goods or services you will be supplying, your pricing strategy and how your clients will make purchases or place orders.

It’s very important that you research your potential client base thoroughly. Set out in the business plan details of who your market will be; their ages, occupations, lifestyles, geographical area etc. Consider whether you will be in direct competition with another supplier of a similar product or service and how best you can advertise and market your business to ensure you secure a good slice of the market.

The name you choose for the business is also extremely important. What image do you want to put forward? Is the name you’ve chosen memorable and easy to spell? Make sure that it hasn’t already been taken by a competitor. Google your potential name; how many other hits does this produce? That’s vital information as you really want your business name to be on the front page and not duplicated a million times over.

Include details of your management team and key staff members. This is very important information for potential investors and financial backers as they will want to exactly who will be managing their investment.

Financial institutions like banks will require profit figure forecasts together with details of how much money you will need and how you intend to spend it.

Make it dynamic!

When writing your business plan, try to approach it with your favourite book in mind. Is the document exciting? Will it hold the attention of the reader and keep them turning the pages? If you want to succeed in attracting investors or sweet talking your bank into lending you start-up capital, you’ll need to hook them into your idea by making it stand out from the crowd.

Beware of making unrealistic promises and forecasts though; experienced investors will see right through this. Keep it realistic and credible whilst remaining cautiously optimistic and able to support your claims with hard facts and figures. It’s easy to get so close to your plan that you can’t ‘see the wood for the trees’ so ask a trusted colleague or friend to read through it and try to rip it to pieces. This sounds harsh but it’s better to find out early on if the plan has flaws than wait until you’re squirming in your bank manager’s office!

Figures

A standard business plan will include detailed and comprehensive financial forecasts for cash flow, profits, and maybe a balance sheet. It’s best to restrict your forecasts for the next three years with monthly breakdowns for the first year. Any further into the future and you’re really just placing a finger in the wind as you can’t be sure what state the economy and markets will be in any further into the future than this.

Once again, err on the side of caution with your forecasting. It’s best to be slightly pessimistic in your projections as this demonstrates that you’ve been realistic. Obviously, if the business is already established you’ll have a track record to use in your calculations whereas with a new business much of your forecasting will be based on assumption and estimation which is much trickier to get right.

Presentation

Once you’re satisfied that the plan holds water and is as good as it can be, make sure your final presentation of the document is professional and of top quality. There are plenty of free pieces of software and templates on the net which you can download to produce your plan and if you’re not confident that you can make a good job of this yourself, investing in a professional company to do it for you will be worth the expense.

The finished document should contain between three and ten pages of text focussing on the most important areas, together with your financial figures. At the back of the document will be a series of appendices which will contain the finer detail, any illustrative graphs etc.

Image: capitalconsultancy.com

Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at http://www.theladywriter.co.uk

Alison Page

Top Posts | Business

Tips For A Great First Impression

The job market today is very competitive and dressing for a positive impression is very important. You need to show the employer that you take the position seriously or you are wasting their time and your own. Everything counts from your hair to your shoes. The Reality of Percept ...

How to Write a Working Business Plan

A business plan is a document created to help the owners of the business outline how they intend to operate their day to day business activities. It is a business guide and communication tool. It tells investors, bankers and sponsors how resources can be put into a business. A business p ...

Thinking of the Market for Your Products

Customers are your market. Think about what problem they are facing. Find the solution to that problem and make it your business idea. The reason why customers pay you is for a solution to their problem, not because you have to something to sell but because you are solving their main problem. ...

4 Essentials Branding Steps For Your Start-up

Branding can be difficult sometimes, because there is a lot of time and money invested into it. If you have a proper plan, it can be done effectively. In this post, I am going to discuss some essential branding steps that are extremely important for start-ups. RESEARCH ...

How to Survive as an Exchange Student in Austria

Spending some of your student life as a foreign exchange student is probably just about the best thing you can do as far as your CV is concerned, and Austria is a wonderful choice of a destination.  Being removed from your familiar environment will broaden your horizons and will help you ... ...

3 Tips to Mastering Networking Skills

Every business requires the right kind of networking as it is an important part in its success. Networking does not simply mean exchanging business cards or sending a few emails; it stands for much more than that. Building a network with everyone is not easy but you can master the skill by fo ...

10 Workplace Secrets For New Graduates

Fresh graduates who have just landed in their first professional job may experience utter confusion and nervousness. This new environment will be entirely different from their university classroom. Meeting different people, learning about your new job and understanding the dynamics of a new w ...

5 Master Tips For Your Next Business Presentation

In this corporate world, presentations have become an integral part of routine office life. From discussing the highlights of the day to demonstrating the sales of a new product, you'll be required to have extraordinary presentation skills. A successful presentation is not just about crea ... ...

3 Steps to SEO Success

Many business owners think that they cannot compete in this world that is full of technology and brands. But that’s not the only important criterion. There are various factors that are responsible for a successful business organization to perform well. SEO [search engine optimizer] is o ... ...

Dress Code in the Business World

In addition to your qualifications and skills, employers consciously or unconsciously evaluate your appearance, because they want to see the representative of their company in you. You might not think that's not fair, but things just work like that. The first impression is very important, ... ...