Business Plan template
In another article we have considered 'Do I really need a business plan?', here we give you an example business plan template that you can use to get you started when planning your business.
- Title Page
- Contents Page
- The Executive Summary
- Introduction to your business
- Your Market and competitors
- Your sales and Marketing plan
- Operations and your team
- Financial Projections
This is just a simple front cover with the name of the business, the plan’s author and the date it was created.
A list of contents to make it simple for the reader to navigate your business plan.
The Executive Summary
This is a concise summary which gives the reader a brief overview of what is about to follow. Normally, a maximum of a page, long you need to include a summary about where you are now with the business, the short, medium and long term goals, why you think the business will be a success, who you will sell to and why they will buy as well as a summary of your financial forecasts.
Tip - It makes sense to write this section last!
Introduction to your business
This section gives you the chance to sell you and your business. It will give the facts about the business as it stands, what you are trying to achieve and how. For example you should include, business details such as name, address and telephone number, the legal status of the business (sole trader, limited company etc), details of key members of staff, their qualifications and experience and what they can bring to the business, where you are going to trade, your objectives for the business and how you will achieve them.
You also need to describe what your product is, how it will benefit your customers, who will buy it and why it will be successful.
If you are buying an existing business or a franchise then you need to include some information about the history and past performance.
Your market and competitors
Here you will describe the market you are targeting. Describe your ideal customer, what they will expect to see from your product and how they will use it. You should also describe your competitors and what separates you from them. Include any research you have completed and what you have found.
Once you have completed this section a good tip is to go back and check it against your introduction section. If they are massively different you may have an issue!
Sales and Marketing Plan
This is possibly the most important section of your plan to think about. How are you going to find new customers and look after the ones you have got?
There is lots to think about in this section - Who are you going to promote your business to? Where are you going to find these customers? What will make them buy? Think about the market research you have conducted, the product you have to sell, the price you will sell it for , where you are going to sell it and how you are going to let people know about it. Is there anyone you need to get involved to help you?
Without a sales and marketing plan it will be very difficult to make your business a success as you need to have a clear picture of who your customers are and where you are going to find them.
Operations and Your Team
This may be a very short section is you are working by yourself at home but it is important to list they key members of your team, elaborate on their skills and qualifications. You will also need to record where you will be working from, the kit you need to get started, any ongoing requirements for equipment, what investment is needed, any startup costs. You will also need to document how you are going to ‘run’ your business in terms of accounting, payroll, health and safety, Human Resources policies.
Often the most difficult of compiling your business plan as it involves making some assumptions about your business. Whilst starting a business is an exciting time, you also need to be realistic in your forecasting. If you are looking for finance, an experienced bank manager or investor will be able to look through the figures and assess whether they are realistic or not. Just think about how Dragon’s Den works, the Dragon’s can quickly pick apart in accurate financial projections because they know what they are looking for and what they would expect to see.
The easiest way of doing this is using a spreadsheet and getting a template from the internet or your accountant and will need to include:
- Cash Flow Forecast. Put simply this will show what cash you will need and when.
- Profit and Loss – This will show what profit you expect to make over time
- Sales forecast – This will show what income you expect to receive from the sales you make.
It is important to get these as accurate as possible and make sure you include all likely expenditure.
Here you should include all the information that supports and demonstrates the figures and details in the business plan. You could include diagrams, statistics, examples, spreadsheets and any other reference materials which will support your plan.
As you can see, writing a business plan can be an in depth task, but it doesn’t need to be too onerous, particularly if you are starting your business from home. It should be a document which you review regularly, update it where needed and changed where an action no longer suits your business.
The plan can be anything from 2 pages to 40 pages depending on how complicated your business and who will be reading it. The key thing is that it is realistic and usable so that it will guide you and your business to success.