So you've got a business idea and you're keen to get things going. Starting a business is an exciting and busy time and whilst it's tempting to jump right into the fun stuff, it pays in the long run to plan your actions and what you want to achieve thoroughly.
Don't know where to start? Below I've answered some common questions on business plans which will hopefully get your business off to a good start!
Do I really need a business plan if I’m a small business?
Yes you do! It will help you to develop ideas and create a structure of how you want to run your business, whilst also identifying who your customers are and how you are going to promote yourself. The research that is done to create a business plan will help you to find out suppliers, calculate the cost of sale and also understand how much profit the business needs to make so it will cover your personal survival budget. It will also help you to identify if you need to look at getting financial help and also make you consider a contingency plan.
What are the benefits of having one?
A business plan helps you to set goals and create a plan of action to create a successful business. It will also include a cashflow forecast which will enable you to understand the value of sales required on a month on month basis. Having this will help you to manage your cashflow in the business so that you can make plans of what you can spend and when. It will also help to feed into your marketing plan for the business.
Does it take a long time to put a business plan together?
It can take several hours to put a business plan together, anything from 4-20 hours, depending on the level of content and research that is required. The Business plan should be treated as a working document and updated as procedures and operations change within your business. This will help you to focus on what is required should things become quiet in the future.
What should I include in one?
A business plan will include the following information:
- Executive summary
- Goals and objectives for the first three years
- Information on your product/services
- Legal matters
- Market place
- Sales and marketing
- Business operations
- Career history & CV
- Contingency plan
- Cashflow forecast
- Profit and loss forecast
- Sales forecast