So you are thinking about starting a business? You may have the product or service in mind, as you will probably have been involved with it in some way before – whether as an employee or as a hobby.
Taking time to sit back and think about your business; how it will look in the future, what your end goal is or how it will work on a day-to-day basis is really important to help bring an idea to reality.
So whether you’re starting a new business or exploring ways to expand an existing one, a Business Plan is an important tool to help guide your decisions.
Think of it as a roadmap to success, providing greater clarity on all aspects of your business, from marketing and finance to operations and product/service details. But like any journey, you may have to change direction, but having that initial plan will help you to focus back on to the end goal, if diverted from the original roadmap.
You will also need a business plan if you intend to approach investors, banks, lenders or specialist advisors. They will want to see a detailed outline of what you plan to do and how you plan to achieve it. They might ask for financial projections for start-up and running costs. You will be expected to demonstrate the viability and sustainability of your idea.
But even if you are not intending on approaching a third party for assistance, it’s still a good idea to write a business plan. It will help you to stay organised, focused and monitor your progress. Questions to consider in your business plan:-
1.What are you going to provide
2.What is your end goal
3.What are your core values
4.How are you going to provide it
5.Who are your competitors
6.Who is your target market
7.What are your strengths / weaknesses / opportunities & threats (SWOT)
8.Will you have staff?
9.Will you use advisors and strategic partners to help you?
10.What you are systems and processes going to be?
11.What do the numbers look like? Your cashflow and profit and loss projections
The misconception is that a business plan is a single document that you put together once when you start and never look at again. Actually, the plan for any business will change over time as it develops, so using and updating your business plan is a great tool to help understand your objectives and maintain that roadmap to your end goal.
In summary the benefits of having a business plan:
- A description of the products and services you will offer
- Your profile – what makes you an expert in your industry
- Your target market and how that may change
- Your competitors
- A clear statement of your business vision, mission and unique selling point (USP)
- Your core values
- Your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
- A roadmap and timetable for achieving your goals and objectives
- A detail of your marketing strategies
- Your cashflow and profit & loss projections
- A blueprint to focus your energy and keep your company on target
- Benchmarks to track performance
- An action plan that anticipates and allows for potential detours or hurdles you may encounter
It can be a handbook for new employees describing who you are and what your company is all about or a CV you can use to introduce to your business to suppliers, vendors and lenders.
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail” – Winston Churchill