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 get your business off on the right path!
Do I really need a business plan if I’m a small or start-up business?
Yes, you do! Your business plan outlines what your business does and what you are trying to achieve and will help you to set goals and create a plan of action to start a successful business. It covers your business’s objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts and will help you to develop ideas and put together 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. It’s really an essential tool for any business, no matter the age or size.
What are the benefits of having a business plan?
The research that is undertaken to create a business plan will help you to source suppliers, calculate the cost of a sale and understand how much profit the business needs to make so it will cover your personal survival budget. It will also help you to identify whether you need to look at getting financial help and make you consider a contingency plan. It feeds into your marketing plan for the business and you will need one if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank.
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 a business plan?
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
Can I get any help to put together my business plan?
There is lots of information available online to help you put together a business plan, and if you’re based in Somerset, we are currently running 1-2-1 sessions with a business adviser.