Preparing the perfect business plan

Preparing the Perfect Business Plan

The document referred to as a business plan is not optional; not if you want your business to be a success. Your business plan is essential to ensure that your business makes it past the starting line.

Your business plan should be realistic and working. It is a written document that describes the background of your business, your business objectives and target market as well as the financial forecast of your business. Your business plan has many functions and stands as the most important document that you will ever produce for your business.

The finished look and feel of your business plan should be detailed and produced to a high level of quality, even if your business plan is produced mainly for you, which brings me to my next point; the audience of your plan. It will be used mainly as the way of securing external funding for your business. Many potential investors may invest in your business ideas and work with you as well as lend you money as the result of the strength of your plan.

As well as the benefit of securing your business funding, your business plan allows you to see pitfalls before they happen, structures the financial side of your business effectively and focuses your development efforts as well as working as a measure of success.

Not only will your business plan be essential at the crucial start-up point of your business, it is also a living document that will need updating and changing as your business develops and grows. Regardless of whether you intend to use your business plan internally or as a document for external use, you should be honest and objective when looking at your business, not doing so will result in people having unrealistic expectations of what your business will be able to achieve.

Many people, over the course of your business development may request to see your business plan at some stage, such as; banks, external investors, grant providers and anyone interested in buying your business or becoming your business partner.

This written document of intent details how you’re going to develop your business, describing when this will take place and who will play a part in making it happen. Your plan allows you to focus your mind on how your new business will need to operate to give it the best chance of success.

Although there are no written rules as to the content, there is a standard structure of what type of content should be included, such as:

• An executive summary – an overview of your business. Many lenders and investors make judgments about your business based on this section of the plan alone.

• A short description of your business opportunity – who you are, what you plan to sell or offer, why and to whom.

• Your marketing and sales strategy – why you think people will buy what you want to sell and how you plan to sell to them.

• Your management team and personnel – your credentials and the people you plan to recruit to work with you.

• Your operations – your premises, production facilities, your management information systems and IT.

As well as the above you will also need to include a section within your business plan based on your financial forecast. This will be used to put everything that you have said about your business into numbers. It should be used to describe how much capital you will need to cover the start-up aspects of your business as well as where your revenue and income will be coming from. Your financial forecast should ideally cover the first three to five years of your business, with special emphasis on the first 12 months. This section is used to show the ‘thinking’ behind your business figures; the aim of it is to show that your business will have enough working capital to survive.

Every aspect of your business plan is important, right down to how you present it so make sure that you have everything covered and never leave details to chance.

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