Writing a Business Plan
The business plan is a means to an end. It forms a platform for the management or owner which forces them to think through all element of their business. Whilst a good business plan alone can’t guarantee success, we can confidently endorse the over used maxim that ‘failing to plan is planning to fail.’
The plan will set out what the business is aiming to sell, who to, and where and how its customers can be found and reached. It will also consider your competitors and their current approach. It will also consider what resources (typically money, equipment and people) you will need and how much profit your business will ultimately make.
Don’t forget – profit is more important than sales, cash is more important than profit!
As straight forward as these statements sound it is the underlying content that separates one business plan from another. Strong content will enable the plan to be used immediately from execution and should provide direction and clarity for the early stages of business launch.
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Planning is essential!
Very few people, if any, get lucky and achieve a successful outcome from their business venture without planning and a full understanding of the market they are entering.
Equally important is action and implementation otherwise you merely have a well-developed document that just describes an opportunity. Being on the right track is great but if you just sit there, eventually you will get run over.
There are several key ingredients which need planning and defining within a business proposal and whilst this doesn’t give you 100% certainty that you will succeed, it mitigates potential risks to a minimum and makes it significantly less likely you will fail.
Setting goals and creating a strategy is one of the starting points when planning a business venture – where you are, where you want to be and how you will get there. This is the engine of the plan and drives pretty much everything else that is needed for you to succeed.
Writing Your Business Plan: Goal setting
There is a well-used acronym to help define goals (not just business but it can also be personal or any other walk of life) known as S.M.A.R.T. –
S – specific
M – measurable and motivational
A – achievable
R – realistic
T – time-specific
Writing Your Business Plan: Strategy
Setting out the clearly defined business goals needs an action plan as to how they will be implemented – a strategy. This is basically about what connects your business to the market and how you will maximise the commercial opportunity that exists. Your business strategy needs to take several factors into account and thought needs to be given to all of them to develop a robust strategy that will help your business succeed.
Part of your strategy is to understand and use SWOT and PEST analysis.
Writing Your Business Plan: Marketing Plan
This is the section dedicated to marketing which naturally leads to how the sales will be generated and the sales targets achieved. Much of the detail comes from your research and how well you understand your target client, but it covers several areas of information which are essential to your business and its success.
Writing Your Business Plan: Financial Detail
Financial information is vital for your business plan to have credibility – not only to demonstrate you have a commercially viable proposition but to get buy-in from potential funders or investors. There are several key pieces of financial information that you would need to develop as part of the plan and even if you are not overly confident with figures. You need to take the time to ensure you understand the numbers which underpin your business proposition.
Writing Your Business Plan: Other key elements
The plan starts with an executive summary which tends to be completed last. Mainly because it condenses the whole story into the key facts and sets the scene for what the plan contains. Anybody reading the plan needs to be hooked in by this and it provides a platform of credibility which inspires confidence and belief in the venture. Here at the Yorkshire Powerhouse, we strongly encourage the theory of the ‘one-page business plan‘.
There should also be a section on the background of the business proposition – where did the idea come from, who is involved, what are their skills and competencies, what are the products or services and what market are they appealing to.
Writing Your Business Plan: A living document
Your business plan is exactly that – take ownership, it belongs to you. You will be responsible for bringing it together and implementing it within a real business. Having a plan that is constantly revisited and visible makes the chances of success far greater.
As your business progresses you can measure yourself against the original expectations, better understand how the business is performing and gain insight to avoid making bad decisions.
The business plan is a framework within which you can start and run your business with as much of the risk removed as possible and give yourself greater potential to succeed and grow. Definitive answers are not always what you get from a plan – in essence you are looking into the future – but what it does do is ask all the right questions in the first place
Business plans should be written for the reader, you should have a different document for a bank manager than the one created for a supplier or partner.
Thoughts from Yorkshire Powerhouse
Now you’ve read about writing a business plan, have you any more questions?
Here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’re happy to help as much as possible – is there anything else we can do to help you, do you have any further questions or can we help introduce you to an expert – please let us know: