A saying goes that a man who does not know where he is going will end up any where. In life, more so in business, it is important to have a plan which details what your goals are and how you intend to achieve them.
A business plan is a written description of your business’s future, a document that tells where you business is going and how you plan to get there. It should be strategic; ‘this is where I will start with these resources, this is where I will be at this time and this is where I want to get in a given period.
Besides guiding you on your business journey, a business plan can be instrumental in attracting investors and partners for your business. Often, a business plan is required to be able to access a loan from a bank or any other financial institution.
Before you write a business plan and considering using it, the following must be put into consideration:
First and foremost, do your research since it is the basis for making decisions about your business including structure, marketing strategies and finances before you can complete your plan; having the right information enables you to be more accurate in your forecasts and analysis.
After the research, determine the possible uses of your plan for instance in terms of purpose and parties involved. This helps you to target your answers for instance, if third parties are involved, what are they interested in? Do not assume they are just interested in the finance part of your business. They will be looking for the whole package.
Still, don’t attempt to complete your business plan from start to finish, first decide which sections are relevant for your business and set aside the sections that don’t apply. You can always go back to the other sections later.
If you are not confident in completing the plan yourself, you can enlist the help of a professional (i.e. business enterprise centre, business adviser, or accountant) to look through your plan and provide you with advice.
Existing businesses can include actual figures in the plan, but if your business is just starting out and you are using expected figures for turnover and finances you will need to clearly show that these are expected figures or estimates.
Your summary should come last in a few words as possible. Do not overlook important facts, although this is an opportunity to sell yourself, don’t overdo it. You want prospective banks, investors, government, partners or wholesalers to be able to quickly read your plan, find it realistic and be motivated by what they read.
Your business plan is there to make a good impression. Errors will only detract from your professional image so ask a number of impartial people to proofread your final plan.
Depending on your business type, your plan could include the following sections:
- Title page – This describes what the plan is for and includes general information on your business.
- Business Summary – A one-page overview written after your business plan is finalized.
- About your business – This covers details about your business including structure, registrations, location and premises, staff, and products/services.
- About your market – It should outline your marketing analysis of the industry you are entering, your customers and your competitors. This section should also cover your key marketing targets and your strategies for delivering on these targets.
- About your future – This section covers your plans for the future and can include a vision statement, business goals and key business milestones.
- About your finances – The financial plan includes how you will finance your business, costing and financial projections.
- Supporting documentation – List all of your attachments under this heading in your plan for referral. For example: copies of emergency procedures, maps, resumes, or financial tables.
When you have finished your business plan:
- Review it regularly since business planning is an ongoing business activity. As your business changes, many of the strategies in your plan will need to evolve to ensure you business is still heading in the right path. Having your plan up to date can keep you focused and ensure you are ready when you need it again.
- Distribute your plan because it is a blueprint of how your business will run and reveals your business perspective. Understandably you will want to be careful who you show your plan to and avoid your competitors seeing it.
- Always protect your plan through having an understanding with third parties when distributing it, however in regards to innovative business practices or products or services, one may wish to go further and sign a confidentiality agreement with each person to protect their innovations. It may also be a good idea to include some words in your plan asking the reader not to disclose the details of your plan.
If you need support to write a business plan, do not hesitate to contact us. Good luck!
By: Irene Birungi