So if you are interested in starting a business, but unsure how to begin, get in touch with one of the business support team to discuss how to turn an idea into a reality:
WRITING YOUR WINNING BUSINESS PLAN
A business plan is an overall description of the business and its plans over a certain period of time. It sets out your strategy and vision for your new business. It will help you to set goals and objectives, identify business priorities and enable you to review your targets. Most people only write a business plan when they need finance however it should be used regularly to review the business and track its progress.
Business Plans Normally Take the Following Layout:
- Executive Summary: important points and the purpose of the plan
- The Business/The Product and Service: background information
- The Market/Competitors: Market research should find information on trends, customers, competitors.
- Marketing and Sales: How you intend to promote and sell your product/service
- Management Skills: Outline strengths and how you intend to overcome any weaknesses
- Operations: How the business will work together in terms of production, employees, suppliers etc
- Financial Forecasts and Requirements: How much do you expect to raise from sales for example. How much funding do you need?
- Risks: What-if scenarios
Hints and Tips for Writing a Business Plan
- Keep it short: Stick to the point
- Include all the required information: ask yourself what does the reader need to know
- Be realistic: do not give optimistic finance forecasts
- Test it: does it project what you want it to?
- Keep it up-to-date: review targets, are you on track?
The business plan is your key sales tool in raising finance. You may use a business plan to obtain funding from a bank or other funder or to open a business bank account. You may also use a business plan to gain suppliers or when leasing or renting premises. Different organisations may require more information than others so it would be useful to keep different versions of your business plan.
To coin an old phrase your business plan should be your ‘flexible friend’ and you should never treat it as being set in stone. It should be fluid and evolve and change with the business.
It acts as a guide when you need pointers for moving you and the business forward. Add items you pick up along the way because they may not be relevant at the time but as the business develops you can have an on-hand reference library of tips, contacts, inspiration and ideas at your fingertips.
A well used and evolving plan can be one of your most useful business tools.
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