Writing a business plan
It doesn't matter what type of business you run, what size it is, or whether or not you intend to borrow money or seek investors—every business needs a business plan.
The plan provides your business with goals, directions, and time schedules for actions, progress, results and growth. A well-constructed business plan also identifies the strengths and weaknesses of a business. It helps you to determine whether your business idea is feasible and helps you map the company’s future. And importantly, it gets you to thoroughly plan your finances and make sure you have sufficient cash flow to see you through until you start making a profit.
It’s also important to keep your business plan up to date. As your business grows and becomes more successful, your plan needs to reflect your new situation and new challenges.
If you’ve never done this before, it might be worth purchasing a business plan kit to get an idea of what to include. There are also a number of web sites that provide business plan templates to help get you started.
While writing your plan, always keep your customers in mind. Remember that the ultimate success of your business depends on attracting the right customers and having them give you lots of money.
Also think about who you are writing for: is it just for your own use, or will you be presenting your plan to banks, potential investors or potential partners?
What to include
You don’t need to write hundreds of pages: just focus on the key information that you need to ensure you give your business the best possible chance of success.
Use the following as a template that describes the types of information you should capture in your plan:
- Executive summary
- Business background
- Sales analysis
- Market analysis – Market profile – Benefit analysis – Detailed market segment analysis
- Analysis of competitors
- SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
- Marketing Plan – Promotion – Pricing – Distribution – Products and services
- Organisation and management
- Financials and records production
- Rollout plan – Key milestones and responsibilities
- Monthly review
- Financials – Management budget – Cash flow statement – Income statement – Balance sheet
What to do with your plan
After spending all of that time and effort creating this document, make sure you USE it!
It’s not only there for when you’re seeking lenders, investors or partners. Your plan is there to provide your business with direction, define goals and objectives, and to give you the best possible chance of success.
And remember that this is a “living” document, which will need to be reviewed and updated throughout the life of your business.