10 point guide to creating a successful business plan

Setting out a plan for your business can seem like a daunting task, especially before you've even got it off the ground. This 10-point guide shows the benefits of a good business plan and what to consider when writing one.

Organising a successful business plan up front can help you hit the ground running and manage your business more efficiently. The first steps to organising a successful business plan are sometimes the most crucial.

The length of business plans can vary hugely from a few pages to more than 30, but a good starting point is 10-15 pages plus an executive summary. Your business plan should include all the information a bank or potential investor or people you want to attract to work with you will want to know. This includes the history and current ownership of your business, details of the products or services you offer and key skills within the management team. Information on your market (including competitors and customers), plans for growth and financial details and projections should also be included.

Remember, your business plan is your roadmap to success, especially for your enterprise’s first year, so it’s worth taking some time to get it right.

This 10-point guide shows the benefits of a good business plan and what to consider when writing one.

The 10 Point Business Plan Guide

  1. If you want to raise money for your business you will need to have a well presented, carefully researched business plan to support your request.
  2. Producing a business plan also helps you to keep control of your business by allowing you to look at how your actual performance differs from your forecast performance and forcing you to explain the differences.
  3. Preparing the plan can help you clarify your thoughts about the success or failure of your business venture. It can also help highlight in your mind the important steps which need to be taken.
  4. Consider whether one plan will suffice for outsiders and inside use, or if two plans will be more helpful to you.
  5. Your plan must get across to readers what is interesting about your business. Stress your management ability and demonstrate carefully the market for your product.
  6. An ideal format for your plan for outside use is to have between three and ten pages of text which draw out the important points, plus a series of financial figures. Excessive detail should be confined to appendices.
  7. You can get help to produce the plan from an advice agency or an accountant. It is crucial to try out your plan on someone independent before you try it out on the financiers.
  8. Use the Checklist: what should be in your business plan to help you decide what should be in your business plan.
  9. Your plan should be typed and neatly presented in a folder.
  10. Include cash flow forecasts, profit forecasts, and possibly a balance sheet forecast. The more money you wish to raise the more detail your forecasts need to have and the greater period they should cover.

Creating a successful business plan remains a key first step when starting any new business venture. Very often, simply running through the process of writing up a plan, and perhaps creating a pitch deck to go with it, can help you find gaps in your startup idea or help you to reassess crucial elements. Using the above 10 point checklist should aid your decision making and enable you to launch with confidence.

Related: Business plan dos and don’ts

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