Business plans: A practical how-to guide
A decent business plan can add value and focus to a small businesses looking to reach its full growth potential. Getting it right is something of an art; Robert Lovell runs through some basic pointers on putting a plan together.
A business plan should help identify long-term objectives, provide a blueprint of how you will go about achieving those goals and provide metrics to check progress.
It should join up the dots between sales, HR and finance and provide a holistic analysis of a company as well as its marketplace. A business plan is much more than forecast, cashflow and profits cooked up for the sole purpose of securing investment. It should also drive your company in the right direction and provide a benchmark for ongoing evaluation.
Key content and measures
A business plan should cover objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts. The best business plans aren’t long or complex, but explain only the most important information – what you want to achieve, how you will get there and the things you need to do along the way.
First, consider who will be the audience for the business plan. Is the plan needed to secure finance/investment or will it just be used for internal purposes?
All the major banks have business plan templates on their websites; however every business has different requirements and will vary depending on the type of operation and the return that you hope to realise.
Register with AccountingWEB for free and log in to read the full article, which gives more guidance on what to include in a business plan for a small or start-up business in these sections:
1. Executive summary
2. The business background
3. Markets and competitors
4. Sales and marketing
7. Financial forecasts
8. Financial requirements
9. Risk assessment
Presenting the plan
Tools: Pros and cons
Tools and techniques for building business plans will be covered in a later article in this business planning series sponsored by Exact. For further advice on constructing a compelling business plan, also see:
- Business planning for SMEs
- Business plans, Part 1 - Chart your course to success
- Business planning tag page