Creating the right business plan can be a source of stress and worry for some and it certainly is an important piece of documentation that will be used if you’re seeking investment from external sources, or approaching a lender for a business loan.
Cover All the Bases
No longer can a person expect to write a business plan on the legendary ‘back of the beermat’ – but instead the business plan must be well conceived, perfectly presented and above all else, absolutely professional – containing all the information that a potential investor or lender will need to see. This means covering all bases and not shying away from any areas; investors are trained to seek out omissions and will expect full disclosure of all areas, particularly financial ones. So ensure that your plan contains sections to cover marketing – the product, the market, the competitive environment, your market position and projections around take-up and market penetration. Make sure that it also covers operations, sales, finances, logistics, the management team, product development, operating and hierarchical structures and any other areas that will be relevant, such as an environmental strategy or any accreditations that you either hold or intend to go for (such as investors in people or one of the ISO accreditations, which can be powerful marketing tools).
Create a Compelling Summary
The executive summary is the section at the front that contains the essence of the report in a brief summary format. It needs the most attention of all, as it will be the section that busy investors read to decide whether they wish to give more time to reading the report as a whole. This means the executive summary of your business plan must be punchy, engaging and enticing enough to lure the reader in and follow through on the promise!
Be sure too to include plenty of graphs and visual interpretations of data, as these can often be viewed and analysed far quicker than reams of text. If you need help with this, it’s best to seek out an experienced coach, mentor or advisor to help you.
Get Help With the Plan
As a first step to getting business plan help, contact your local chamber of commerce, Business Link or your local Enterprise council office – there are a range of business support organisations that work in partnership between the public and private sector and serve each local region. When you get in touch, you’ll find that they generally offer a wide range of business services in addition to business planning support, such as training, networking, access to finance, apprenticeship recruitment, business consultancy, membership schemes and benefits, regulatory and accreditation support and careers or training help for your existing staff.
So get in touch today and register with your local business services provider and you’ll be invited in to talk about your business and your requirements and the organisation will either signpost you to a range of service providers, or recommend services and products that they can offer themselves. Some will be charged for but often subsidised and others will be free of charge, such as the exporting and overseas trade advice offered by the government’s UKTI body.