Often seen as an outdated requirement, with many choosing to take an off-the-cuff approach, business plans are a dying aspect of entrepreneurship. We believe, however, that having a business plan in place is fundamental to starting a business. It forces you to clarify your business idea, its goals and targets, and forecast for the future as well as spot potential downfalls and risks. It helps you progress by setting benchmarks.
Stuck with how to write a business plan? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Do it yourself.
Don’t ask your accountant to do your business plan for you. You need to think through what your business is and where you want it to go yourself. You can ask for advice and guidance but make it your own.
- Be realistic.
Be honest about challenges and opportunities and don’t try and make things look like they will be better than they might be. Be conservative when forecasting.
- Keep it simple.
Don’t start writing essays, keep it to the point and avoid jargon or ‘fluffing’. The simpler the better, so it is easy to read and then you might actually use it.
- Update and revisit.
You shouldn’t just leave your business plan once you have started trading. It should be something that you revisit and adjust accordingly. If you need to change your original plan, do so.
- Include a summary.
Often termed an ‘executive summary’, this should be no more than one page of A4 and should summarise your business idea in simple terms.
- Include a sales and marketing plan.
Often forgotten in business plans, these are crucial in the running of your business and so need careful consideration in themselves. You must know how you are going to market your business and sell to customers, who they will be and why they will buy from you. You should have a detailed plan for at least the first 3 months.
Once you have your business plan in place, you can use it either just for yourself or to gain funding. Remember to follow your plan and check back regularly to see where you are and how you’re going to progress further. Looking at your business plan regularly and reassessing risks and opportunities is a good way in ensuring your business continues to grow.
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