How to create a business plan by the Start-up loan experts…
November sees the return of Entrepreneurs Day, and to mark the occasion, the Start Up loan experts have put together their top tips on creating one of a start-up business owners’ most important documents – a business plan.
Having a solid business plan can help with creating a successful first year in business and helps you clearly define your goals and objectives, as well as identify potential threats. A business plan isn’t just crucial for the early stages of business development; it’s actually a useful tool to refer back to once your business becomes more established. Fundamentally, your business plan is a strategy that details how you will move your business from its starting point to where you would like to be in a given amount of time.
We have start up resources available on our website, but our experts have also compiled their advice for putting together a solid business plan, so if you want to take your enterprise to the next level, read on…
Your business plan may be seen by various investors and business mentors, so it’s important to ensure it’s clear, concise and that your goals are well defined. Use the beginning part of your business plan to summarise your target markets, objectives, and financial information, what backing do you require to get your idea off the ground, and details of your current financial situation?
You’ll need to consider your cashflow forecast and a personal survival budget to demonstrate that you can keep up with loan repayments and show that your business idea is sustainable long term.
Be sure this section follows a coherent structure, as it provides a crucial introduction to your business idea. If your plan doesn’t run smoothly and keep a reader engaged, what’s to make them think your business will?
Naturally what you offer in terms of services and products is an integral part of your business plan and should be carefully thought out. Show you’ve done your research; if there are similar products/services available on the market already; include details of your direct and indirect competitors explaining what makes your offering unique? It may not be your actual product that’s ground breaking, it may be your customer service or flexible payment options, whatever your unique selling point is, ensure this is clearly outlined in your business plan.
Chances are, most successful entrepreneurs will have already thought about pricing, your pricing structure and profit margins will be easily picked apart if the sums don’t add up. Be sure you know your costs and your profits, and also consider any external factors that may have an effect upon your ability to make profits further down the line-for example, economic fluctuations and political changes. These can often be difficult to predict, but it’s good to show you have prepared where possible.
Sales and Marketing Strategy
Ensuring you know how your business will sell itself and its offering is important. Hiring sales staff will be an extra expense, and taking on staff members – although great for growth and the economy – means you’ll have responsibilities to consider. If your products will be ordered via a website, it’s important to consider any running and operational costs, as well as updates to keep your website responsive and compatible with new technologies.
In order to drive sales, you’ll need to make sure people know about your business. While word of mouth is powerful, in order to reach larger numbers of people you may need to invest in some marketing. Factoring in costs for assistance with this is advisable in order to generate brand awareness and drive sales. Consider what you will need to have achieved in order to reach your goals and how you’ll get there via sales and marketing.
Currently your start-up company may just be run by yourself, but detailing what staff members you intend to take on once your business has begun to grow is useful. Prioritise which specific positions you’ll need to cover, detailing when you estimate the business will require this assistance and how much investment will be required.
It’s easy to underestimate staffing costs, a salary is only one part of the investment needed when taking on staff members. Consider whether you will require a budget to source staff and also what HR costs you may face. Think what structure your business will take once you do start to employ people, you may have a management team and more junior staff, you’ll need to know which responsibilities sit within each position.
Finally…writing a comprehensive and clearly structured business plan can be challenging, but our Start-Up business experts are on hand to offer support, advice and specialist mentoring on all aspects of starting up an enterprise. If you require funding assistance or have a start-up query, contact our friendly team today.