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Getting Started on your Business Plan

Towards the end of last year we brought you an article on the importance of a Business Plan for SME start-ups, followed by some advice on how to get started when it comes to writing an effective business plan.  We came up with a great template to be used in a Business Plan and promised to break this down into sections to give readers comprehensive advice on each individual part of the overall plan.   Basically, a business plan template can be divided into four sections:

1.      The Project Idea

2.      The People

3.      The Market

4.      The Money

Today, we’re going to take a look at the Project and the business plan summary which you can use to get people hooked onto your idea.  The most important thing is to keep it simple, just outline the basic plan and summarise the main points. 

Business Objectives

Your business plan should be focused on your first year of trading but using a Business Objectives heading will give you the chance to talk about your vision for the future of your business – your short, medium and long term goals:

·         The short term goals will encompass what you hope to achieve with your business during the next year.

·         The medium term goals will focus on where you want your business to be two or three years from now.

·         The long term goals will cover where you want your business to be in five years.

Business Description

This is where you describe the products and/or services your business will provide.  Assume that the reader has no real knowledge or experience of your industry so explain any technical terms or jargon that you use.  Here are some issues that should be covered:

What is it that you are selling (include photos if possible)?

What is your USP (unique selling proposition) that will make you stand out from your competitors?

How will you build a lasting competitive advantage – do you have skills, processes or knowledge that other can’t copy?

How much will you charge – how did you arrive at this price and how does it compare to your costs and profits?

Business Operations

This covers the day to day running of your business and should include:

·         Production – what is the production process and how long does it take?

·         Delivery – how will you deliver your products/services to customers and how much will this cost?

·         Payment – what payment methods do you accept?  Do you have a refund policy, a cancellation policy and an exchange policy?

·         Supply – who are your regular suppliers, what are the minimum order quantities (MOQ), what are the payment terms?  Do you have back-up suppliers?

·         Premises – Do you need premises, where are they, how much will you need to pay in rent and rates, do you need security?

·         Equipment – what do you need to buy, who will supply it and how much will it cost?

·         Transport – how will you travel to buy stock, visit customers, etc.?  How much will this cost?

·         Legal Issues – which laws apply to your business?  Do you need to register with your local authority?  Do you need to be VAT registered?

·         Insurance – what types of insurance do you need, who will supply the insurance and how much will it cost?

 

Next week we’ll be taking a look at the people involved in your business so don’t forget to check in here for more advice on writing a business plan.