Writing a business plan takes time, patience and can often be quite stressful. In this blog we will breakdown the different chapters of the business plan to make the process feel straight forward and manageable.
First things first…
Create a great cover sheet
A great place to start is to create a really eye-catching cover sheet. Keep it simple but include an image. Remember if you are looking for investment, the chances are the person reviewing your plan will have a number to read so make sure yours stands out.
Make it a live document
Buy a smart folder, so you can add each chapter to a physical document as you go along. This will help you feel like progress is being made as you build the plan section by section.
Print out headings for each chapter and add them to your folder. Work through a chapter at a time, by doing this you will have overcome a great hurdle in starting the plan and you can tackle each chapter at a time with a methodical approach which will add structure.
Use bullet points
Avoid using long passages of text, instead use bullet points to make the document easy to digest.
- Business (Executive) Summary
The business summary should be a one page overview of your plan. It should include information on what you do, who your customers are, how the business is going to work, your start-ups costs, expected turnover and profit.
Include curriculum vitaes for all of the directors/founders of the business
- Legal and health and safety
This is one of the easier parts of the plan. Legislation and health and safety laws already exist for most industries, all you have to do is to find out the laws for your business. You can do this easily by accessing Cobra Information, which has fact sheets for almost all industries. This will include information on what the health and safety laws are for your sector. Some of these fact sheets can be expensive to access but a number of libraries in London will allow you to access the database and download this information for free.
This is possibly the most important chapter of the business plan and certainly the one which will be most scrutinised by investors. You should include a personal survival budget, your start-up costs, sales forecast, cash flow forecast, projected profit and loss, a viability assessment and a balance sheet.
If this sounds complicated head over to our resources page and download our financial forecasting spreadsheet which will has a template for each of the above.
- Market Research
You need to demonstrate that there is a market for your product or service and that you understand your customers. This can be evidenced through strong market research. Again, take a look at Cobweb to find out what information is available for your industry or use results for any primary market research you have already undertaken.
How will you attract customers? What channels will you be using to communicate to new audiences and gain traction for your product or service? One method of creating a marketing plan is to base it on the 4ps – product, price, place and promotion.
- Operations Plan
How will your business work on a day-to-day basis? Explain how your product or service will be delivered or manufactured? What equipment you will be using? How will you stay up to date with industry regulations? What quality control measures do you have in place? How will you measure customer satisfaction? What will be the process for collecting monies owed? What methods will you be using for bookkeeping? Will you be using an accountant? State the name of your bank and business manager. State the plans for monitoring your tax liabilities.
- Contingency Plan
You need to explain what will happen if things don’t go to plan. How would you repay any loan if the business is not successful? What if you achieved 20% fewer sales than expected? What happens if customers do not pay on time? What would happen if you got sick? What if demand is greater than you had anticipated?
- Final Overview
This is your opportunity to communicate your passion and drive. Explain how the plan has come together, your knowledge of the market and your confidence in the financials. This is the last chance to sell your proposition so use this chapter to be slightly more emotive.
To make this process even easier we have produced a free to download business plan template complete with guidance notes.
Additionally, you can always give our team a call to see how we can help.
Tom Bircham – Enterprise for London