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How to Write an Effective Business Plan

Last week we explained to our readers the importance of having a business plan for start-up companies, especially SMEs. The economic downturn of the past few years makes this even more vital, particularly for those who need to attract some form of investment in order to get the new business up and running.

The financial crisis has been followed by the Brexit vote which has left so many businesses here in the UK unsure of the future. A robust business plan will enable you to face the future with a little more confidence so today we’ve got some advice for you on just how to write a business plan that will be useful and effective and it’s not as difficult as you may imagine. If you want to open a small business in 2017, then the prospect of drawing up your business plan may feel a little overwhelming so we have some tops for you on how to do this in a quick and simple way that will benefit your future business.

To begin with, your business plan will be based on a spreadsheet of numbers and will provide an explanation of how those numbers will be achieved. Don’t be put off by the blank sheet in front of you, it will just take a little time to write a well thought-out financial proposal that will be easy to understand. Try to keep the written part of the plan as short and succinct as possible – too much text puts people off (even bank managers will balk at reading reams of paperwork).

If you’re struggling with keeping it short and sweet, complete the plan first, then write a summary that can be inserted at the beginning of the document. If you need to include reference materials like charts, graphs, evidence, etc., then add them as appendices at the end of the document. You will be able to refer to them throughout the document wherever necessary. All business plans should be professionally and neatly presented, containing no grammar or spelling errors (your business plan may be the first impression that prospective investors/lenders get of your business, so professionalism in all aspects is vital). Each new section should start on a new page and each page should be numbered.

 

Business Plan Template

• Title Page – This should include the heading or title of the business plan and should include a short description, the author, company/organisation, details of circulation and confidentiality.

• Contents Page – A list of contents (the sections we list here) showing page numbers, a list of appendices/reference materials. This enables the reader to navigate the document effectively and easily find what they need.

• Introduction Page – This should be an introduction to the business plan, stating its purpose and any terms of reference (terms of reference usually only apply to formal or large plans).

• Executive Summary Page – This should be no more than a page long, containing the key points of the whole plan, including conclusions, recommendations, actions, financial returns on investments, etc. It should be clearly set out and readable in a few minutes.

• Main Body of Plan – The sections and headings as required

• Appendices – This is the additional, detailed reference material that is necessary to gain insight into your business plan.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll break down this plan into sections and give our readers more comprehensive advice on each individual section.