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Guide to business planning
Source: Barclays Bank Plc / BBC
A business plan isn't something you should do just to get a business
bank account or business loan.
All businesses, whether new or established, should have a constantly
evolving business plan in order to capture the strategic operational
and financial aims of the business.
Define your business
Your small business plan should clearly state:
What your business will do
The products or services it will provide
How customers will access your products
or services (for example, in a shop, online or by phone)
Your approach to pricing
Know your customers
Make sure you know as much as possible about who will be buying
from you. For example, if you’re marketing to consumers:
Are they young or old?
What do they do for a living?
What are their lifestyles like?
Do they already buy the product or service
you’ll be offering?
What will they think of your product
Why will they buy from you and no one
How will you tell them about your business?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you promote your
business much more effectively.
Think about your sales and marketing strategy, include information
on how the product or service will be priced, channels to market,
advertising and marketing plans.
Details of key personnel and their relevant experience are also
important, as is operational information like office location, special
equipment and expected employee headcount.
Include details of any finance provided by the founder or management
team and indicate the key risks to the business and any mitigating
action you can take.
Your plan should also include a sales forecast, cashflow forecast
and a projected profit and loss account for up to five years' ahead.
Larger businesses should also draw up a projected balance sheet.
The figures used must be reasonable - avoid being over optimistic.
The involvement of a qualified accountant in preparing these forecasts
What’s in a name?
The name you choose for your business should reflect the image
you want to project to your market. Pick one that’s easy to
pronounce and remember. And make sure that it’s not already
in use, is available as a web address and will work on your business
Writing it all down
When you write your business plan, remember to be clear, realistic
and concise. Use research to support your conclusions and include
an action plan. And remember that business plans are dynamic documents
- meaning that you should adjust your plan as your business develops.