So you need to put a Business Plan together in a hurry? This page will help you decide what you need to include.
You may be applying for a loan or overdraft, a competition, or some other type of funding which needs a short (5 to 15 pages approximately) Business Plan. If you’ve never put one together before, it can be stressful to produce one when you’re under time pressure.
Think about the person who will be reading your Business Plan. If you can make it easy for them to read it by spacing it out well with clear headings (and no typos!), you improve your chances of getting the approval stamp you need. Don’t forget they may be reading several Business Plans in a short period of time, so you need to make yours stand out.
In a competitive process, a mistake people can make with their Business Plan is that they tell the reader what they want the reader to know but not what the reader actually needs to know! If you have the judging criteria, make sure your Business Plan addresses all the items listed.
For example, if a question asks “To what extent has market research been carried out”, if you have only asked 6 people their opinion on your proposed product or service – include the details. If you don’t answer this at all, you can’t get a score for it. A low score is better than none at all!
Where you are including numeric information, pricing, market size etc., consider putting it in a table to make it easier for the reader to absorb.
As an example, which would you find it easier to read:
“We estimate sales of 950 in the first quarter. With a price of €24.99 per unit, and costs per unit of €11.87, our net profit will be €12,464.”
|Sales (units)||Unit price||Cost per unit||Net profit||Gross sales||Net sales|
What to consider including in your Business Plan
Start your Business Plan with a very short description of your business – the name and what it does.
Then have an Executive Summary which is a condensed version of your Business Plan. You should probably write this last, making sure the most important points from your Plan are included in it.
Now the person reading your Business Plan has an idea of what you’re about and is ready to get stuck into the details. If your plan is on the longer side, it would be useful to have a Contents page.
- Describe your business; what industry it is in. Explain the problems your customers have and how you will solve these problems.
- What products or services you provide. If you are currently developing your product or service, explain this clearly, perhaps in a separate section.
- How you will provide the products or services – e.g. selling at a physical location (shop), online shop, call-out service etc.
- What you need to be able to provide your products or services. Do you need a high-profile location or a warehouse; web developers; what sort of staff and so forth.
- Who your customers are. The success of your business depends on these people. Where are they going to come from? Why are they going to buy from you? How many of them are out there? If you have already had sales, make sure to mention this.
Products or Services
Depending on how much detail you have given in the previous section, you may feel it’s a good idea to have a section which goes into your products or services in more detail.
What differentiates your products/services? What is your pricing model? Are your products/services in place already – if not, what is the timeline?
- What is the size of the market? Have you any research figures to confirm this?
- What segment of this market are you addressing? Why?
- Is the market growing? By how much?
- Where are the people who will buy from you? What do they spend on your type of services/products?
Sales and Marketing
How are you going to grow your business?
- Identify your target market. Who are your customers? Where are they? How are you going to reach them?
- What’s your pricing strategy? How have you arrived at these figures?
- How much will you spend on Sales and Marketing? How will this spend be allocated and tracked?
Who are your competitors and how do you compare? Hint: “We have no competitors” is not the right answer!
List your direct competitors and give a breakdown of their offering, with (relevant) headings such as strengths, weaknesses, pricing, reliability, location. Try doing an online search for “competitive analysis chart example” to get ideas which work for you.
Show the opportunities for and risks to your business, and what effects these can have.
You need to demonstrate that you understand the market and your competition, and that you are in a position to make changes as market forces dictate.
How is the business going to be run on a day-to-day basis?
- Show your organisation structure – where do the responsibilities lie?
- What are your location requirements?
- What is your production/service process?
Demonstrate that you (and your partner/s) have the skills to make this business succeed.
List your key people, what their responsibilities in the business are, their education and skills, and clearly show their relevant experience.
List your figures for 3 years under the following categories:
- Sales Forecasts
- Cash Flow
- Profit & Loss
- Balance Sheet
If you look online for “business plan financials template”, you will find many helpful sources.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this section. You need to understand these numbers in order to run your business effectively. So even if an accountant calculates these figures for you, ask them to show you how these estimates were arrived at, and, for example, the effect on your bottom line if sales are lower or higher than expected!
The above is intended as a general guide to creating your Business Plan. Add as much detail as you feel is appropriate.
If you need assistance in putting your Business Plan together, please get in touch via the Contact Form.