A start-up business plan is a written document you use to outline your small business's goals, strategies and ways of operating.
It typically includes:
(We look at these in more detail below.)
The purpose of a start-up business plan is to provide a roadmap for the company's growth and development. It also acts as a tool for raising finance from investors or securing loans from banks or other financial institutions.
A well-crafted business plan can also help entrepreneurs identify potential challenges and opportunities, and make informed decisions about the direction of their business.
Your business plan is going to be a detailed document, so include a summary first to help readers get a quick overview. It should contain the basics of your plan, while the rest of the document will delve a little deeper.
The executive summary should summarise concisely the main points of your business plan and charm the reader into reading the rest of your plan.
This is where you lay out the basic information about your business. In this section, you'll cover areas such as:
This part of the plan helps to give investors and readers a clear understanding of what the company is and what it aims to achieve.
Here, you should describe your long-term vision for your business, and showcase the products and services you intend to sell. You should also outline the benefits of your business offering, and emphasise how your products and services suitably meet your customers' needs.
This section should be a thorough investigation of the market you're targeting, such as:
You should focus on describing and analysing your perceived business opportunity, and illustrate why you believe there's a sustainable market for your products and services.
The details you include here should indicate how familiar you are with your market niche and industry, and should also show off all the market research you've conducted on your target audience, including segmentation and demographics.
This section is all about the production strategy and how you'll acquire your product. You might create it yourself or hire a team to do it for you. Or you might buy it wholesale, for example. Then there's the question of how you'll get it to your customers.
Having identified the specific markets you intend to target, you should highlight the key messages you want to communicate to your customers, along with details about the channels you intend to use. You should also state when you intend to carry out your marketing activities, and identify who will be responsible for managing this work.
Banks and investors will be particularly interested in this section, as this is what tells them how their money is going to be spent.
This should be an honest, thorough explanation of how finances will be involved in your business, covering everything from the sales forecast and cash flow to the profits and loss.
A business plan helps you to create and understand the core of your business – your vision, the foundation the business is built on, and the key factors that will make it thrive. It helps you turn ideas into goals and allows you to create a structure for the way your business is going to run.
Once you understand exactly what you want your business to achieve, you can explain it to other people. This is important, as you'll more than likely end up needing people such as investors or potential partners to understand and buy in to your business.
You should be able to sum up your whole business quickly and in a straightforward way. This is called an 'elevator pitch' and a business plan can help you create an impressive one.
Having an idea is one thing, but without thoroughly researching your industry, you'll never know how to make your business a success.
Understanding your market stops you from wasting time – for example, launching in a saturated market or starting something that there's no demand for. A business plan requires you to do this research so you can make any necessary adjustments to your strategy.
If you think you may need outside funding at some point, you need a business plan. Banks and investors won't give you finance without one. They need to know exactly where their money is going, what you're going to do with it and how you'll be able to pay them back.
Drawing up a business plan helps to highlight potential problems that could arise with your business. This means you can figure out a plan of action in advance, giving you the confidence that you're prepared for any issues that could crop up.
Every business experiences its fair share of unexpected mishaps, but the ones with a plan are best equipped to handle them quickly.
A business plan that you regularly review and refer back to can guide you in your business decisions and keep you on track.
It also serves as a boost of inspiration when things aren't going well. It can remind you of your goals and objectives and show you how far your business has come.
Visit the StartUp UK hub for resources that give you the education and inspiration to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.
A business owner who used Strive's Make a Plan tool tells us what positive changes they've made as a result.
This is a group is for those who have joined the StartUp UK e-learning programme to share ideas, inspiration and key takeaways from the videos you have watched. Get sharing on the group chat!
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