You'll find it helpful to put together a business plan to plot the future of your business – from where you are now, to where you want to be in the future, and how you intend to get there.

1. Why write a business plan?

When you write a business plan it forces you to evaluate the details of your own business proposal and identify what you need to do to make it happen. It will quickly show up any flaws or potential stumbling blocks, allowing you to make your mistakes on paper rather than in your actual business.

A well-thought-out business plan will:

Document-iconset a direction for the business and help you create an action plan

Localisation-iconhelp you and your staff focus on what's important

Information-iconshow your commitment to banks, investors, colleagues and employees

Search-iconhelp you to spot problems early on and tackle them effectively

Graph-iconset targets and evaluate your success

People-iconhelp you attract better-qualified staff.

Business planning isn't just for when you're setting up – you should keep reviewing and updating your plan regularly. A plan is always a useful asset for persuading others to invest time, money and effort in your business, and keep your plans on track.

2. What to include in your plan

To write an effective business plan you'll need to answer these four questions:

  1. What is the purpose of your business? (Your mission statement).
  2. What do you want to achieve with it? (Your objectives).
  3. How will you achieve your objectives? (Your strategy).
  4. How much will it cost? (Your budget).
     
What to include in your plan

3. The essentials of your plan

Top-line summary

Open your business plan with a top-line summary to help readers gain a quick understanding. You can write this last.

The language

Make sure your plan is clear and concise, free of jargon, well-researched and achievable.

If you don't have all the information you need you can still make a start, then add more as details become available.

Your business plan’s structure

Try setting out your plan into four sections:

  • Your current situation. Describe the type of business you're in and the products and/or services you provide, including details of your growth so far if relevant.
  • Where you would like to be and by when – describe your vision.
  • How you plan to get there (your strategies).
  • What should be done by whom and by when?

In each section take a look at:

  • staff
  • cashflow and profit
  • positioning
  • your business profile.

Avoid using very detailed figures as these will be more likely to change and date your plan.

4. Sample business plan

Take a look at our sample business plan for ideas on how to put your own together.

Download our guide – Sample business plan

Start-up success

Check out our five tips to start-up success.

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