New Year, New Business

How to write a business plan for your new 2018 venture

How often have you come across a new business idea and thought ‘I could have done that’ or had dreams of being your own boss?

Could 2018 be the year that you finally turn those dreams into reality?

It all starts with an idea; a realistic concept of something you could turn into a product or service. Once you’ve formed your ideas, researched your market and worked out some figures and financing, you need to put all that into a business plan.

A business plan describes your business and sets out its objectives, strategies and forecasts and, if done correctly, will become the key document in getting your venture off the ground and you will return to it time and time again. By mapping everything out clearly at the outset, you should be able to spot potential problems, identify your goals and determine what your measures of success will be.

You will also need a business plan if you’re looking to apply for finance or secure investment.

Writing a business plan can sound like quite a daunting prospect, so here’s some guidance to help you get the ball rolling.

What is a business plan for?

A well-written, sound business plan explores every aspect of your business, from what you need to get it started, to how it will grow over the next one to five years. As well as helping to convince potential lenders of the strength of your business, you should view it as your go-to document for keeping your business on track.

What to include in a business plan

  1. History – Give a brief history of your business, including how it came about, when it started trading and who is involved.
  2. Products or services – Describe in layman terms what your product or service is and what makes it unique.
  3. Competition – Show that you understand the current market for your business, such as how big it is, any forthcoming trends, what the opportunities are and who the competition is.
  4. Customers – Who is your main target audience? What does your ideal customer look like and how can you target them?
  5. Margins – Research similar products or services and see where you fit in the market. How much could you charge and how much would it cost to provide the product/service? Make sure it is a sound pricing model for making a profit.
  6. Distribution – how will you make sales? Do you need a website, a marketing strategy or a sales team?
  7. Staffing – Consider and explain how many members of staff you will need in your business, if any.
  8. Operations – What do you need to actually operate your business? This could include premises, production equipment, distributors etc.
  9. Finances – Probably the most important section of your business plan is your sales figures, accounts and trading history. This should include margins, turnover, a profit and loss account, working capital and investments.
  10. Forecasts – Your business plan should also include profit, loss and sales forecasts for the next three to five years. The best advice is to be realistic with your forecasts to show a true understanding of your business and market trends.

Hopefully this provides you with a good starting point. Further advice for small businesses is available from various sources, such as business support organisations and the Government. For more information about some of the finance options available to help you get your small business off the ground, visit Check Business partners Funding Options.