What is a business plan?
A business plan is a document that provides a roadmap for either starting a business or an established business’s operations for a given period. It clearly sets out objectives and strategy, as well as sales, marketing, and financial forecasts. It helps to clarify the purpose of a business, uncover potential issues before they occur, and identify metrics for success.
How to write a business plan
Here are seven business plan essentials to get you started.
1) Executive summary
Perhaps the most important part of the business plan is the executive summary, in which the business’s mission statement, growth projections, products, services, and financial information are outlined. The founders and their biographies are also included.
2) Detailed company descriptions
More detailed information on each of the factors included in the executive summary will also need to be given, especially on the products and services. How will the products or services work? Are they ready to launch or do they need further development? Make sure to highlight how the product or device will fulfil the needs of the target audience.
3) Organisation and management
An often-overlooked part of business planning, ensuring that those involved in the business have clearly defined roles and a robust reporting structure is essential for work to be delegated, managed and completed efficiently. It’s also a great way of emphasising the team’s strengths and showing how they all fit in to the business and how they will make it a success.
4) Market and competitor analysis
Understanding the market into which the business is entering or involved in will allow for more effective sales and marketing, leading to better financial results. Try to define the target audience in as much detail as possible, as well as looking into competitors in order to identify what they are doing right, as well as potential areas of weakness and gaps in the market that the business can exploit.
5) Financial plans
A robust financial plan and explicit financial metrics for success should also be included. Outline how R&D, marketing and sales spends are expected to be converted into revenue. Graphical representations of the information can be an excellent way of conveying this information. This is how an accountant can help with a business plan.
6) Marketing plans
This can also be described as a ‘growth strategy’, detailing how marketing techniques and sales tactics will be employed to raise the profile of the business and drive revenue. Discuss the specific channels to be employed, as well as the messaging to be used in both marketing material and sales meetings. Try and foresee questions that may be asked about the product or service and have answers at the ready.
7) Clarity and ease of use
The document needs to be clear and easy to understand both for internal and external audiences. Internal audiences should treat the document as a one-stop shop for information about the business and use it to inform their decision making day-to-day; while external audiences, including potential investors, should be able to get a complete vision of the business and its goals.
At J Sweeney Accountants, we offer business planning services to ensure your business plan is useful and contains all the necessary information for a successful start of your business. Get in touch here or give us a call on 01604 950034.