Now we’ve looked at why you should have in a business plan it’s time to put it together.
Remember, the most important part of a business plan is confidence. Nobody knows more about your business than you so make this obvious. For a start-up, here are eight business plan must-haves:
This is a complete overview of the plan. You want to engage the reader; show them why your company is worth reading about. Think about what’s original in your business plan. What sections of pure genius are there?
These are the five typical features in an Executive Summary:
- The name and location of your business
- Your products/services
- Your mission statement
- What you want to achieve
- The Ask (how much money you need)
While this part appears first in the plan, you should write it last. Only once you’ve put the whole thing together can you accurately summarise it.
Product or Service
Start with the easy part. What are you selling? And more importantly, what makes it interesting? It’s far easier to hook people in if you can make them see the merit in your product or service just as you do.
So explain why you’ve chosen it. Why it’s so great and why they should think the same.
Look at who you’re talking to. What kind of people are they? Go further than male/female ABC1 etc. Think about what they like, what they don’t like and how they’re likely to react to your business’ offering.
What state is the market in? Who are your competitors and what market share are you going for? A good way to cover a lot of this is to do a SWOT analysis.
Then think about your distribution plan. How does it sit with your customers and your desired market share? Look again at your competitors and how effective their distribution is.
The cogs and wheels of your business. What processes will you have in place? What resources do you have/need? What is the status and structure of your suppliers and where your operations will take place?
Think about the quality of your product or service. How will you control it? What contingency plans do you have?
And make sure you take your working capital into account; will your projected cash inflows cover your forecast trade and other debts?If borrowing money, can you make the repayments or do you need to ask for a repayment holiday until your business is cash generative?
The Organisation section is also known as the Design and Development Plan. It’s where you plan how to take your business from a concept to a reality.
Think about the functions you’ll need to run the business. Plan milestones; set yourself realistic goals to reach before the venture can be launched. And again think about quality control.
This is often the most important part of a successful business. Without the best human resources a company can fail, so think hard about this section.
- Who will take on governance and senior management roles?
- What other key management personnel will be employed?
- What are their backgrounds?
- What training structure will you need?
- Will you require lawyers, accountants and other professional advisors?
- Is a rewards system necessary?
- What are the costs of effective management?
Strategy and tactics
How is all of this information going to work together? You’ve looked at your business and the wider environment from every angle. Now how will you make it work for you?
Has your strategy been proven to work? Or does its strength lie in its originality? Be as detailed as you like here. The tactics making up your strategy are often the most interesting part.
This is the development of your revenue and profitability model. Elaborate on the assumptions you’ve made to build the model. Explain The Ask; why do you need that amount?
Include your projected income and cash flow statements (quarterly for the first two years and annually for the next three).
When writing up the financials it’s essential to constantly refer back to the rest of the plan and justify everything. If you can’t convincingly monetise your venture you won’t get anywhere.
As a final note, it’s a good idea to have an appendices section where you can keep any extra information otherwise cluttering up the business plan. It means you can strike a balance between being concise and detailed.
So there you have it. Include these eight essential features and your business plan should be turning heads and opening wallets in no time.
Too much to take in? At QR3 all of our part-time finance directors are well versed in pulling together a business plan. If you need help to do your business plan, please give us a call on 07736 105 055 and Matthew will be pleased to help out.