7 Tips for a Successful Business Plan

Do you keep putting off writing your Business Plan? It’s so easy to say ‘there’s no point in doing it until the start of the financial year,’ or ‘if I just wait a bit and start it at the beginning of the January…’ If you need to approach banks for finance you will have to have a good Business Plan and even if you don’t require additional finance to get started, the only way to get a successful business up and running is to begin with a sound Business Plan and you, the person behind the venture, are the only person capable of writing it. Sound daunting? Just think of it as a planning document which sets out your business venture in both words and figures. You are really only transferring your thoughts to paper in a concise format showing how you plan to raise the finance and monitor the project.The following should help to get you started:
How will your business be set up? – will you be a sole trader, partnership or limited company? You must look into this in detail. Look at the legalities of the different forms and decide which is best for you. Think about how many people you might employ, the insurances you will require, do you need a license for your business, what are the tax issues? Have you got a lawyer, accountant, tax advisor, business coach, for example?
Do your market research- This is without a doubt the number 1 must do! You need to know if there really is a market for your product/service and whether or not it is big enough to support you and your business. Break down your research into 3 parts: analysis of the market; analysis of competitors; and test the market before you commit. Is the market expanding or contracting? What are the trends? What are the needs of your customers and what benefit will they get from buying from you? Observe your competitors, check out their products/services and speak to potential buyers.
Marketing Plan- This is essential a summary of your market research and forms an important part of the Business Plan. It should also describe how you plan to promote, advertise, distribute and sell your product/service and be sure to include what makes you unique.
Financial Requirements- You need to be able to clearly state exactly how much money the project needs, how much you are putting in and if any loans are required they must be clearly detailed and state what the borrowed money will be used for. You will have to include a detailed Cashflow Forecast showing all monies going into and out of the business on a monthly basis for at least the first year. Always overestimate your overheads and underestimate your initial income from sales.
Take risks and expect the unexpected- If you want to set up in business, you have to be prepared to take risks. Agood business plan will show that you are capable of taking calculated risks without being reckless. You will need to anticipate possible challenges and detail solutions for meeting those challenges.
Accountability – no matter how good you are it is always easy to miss something. Get an independent person (friend, partner, business coach) to take an object review of your business plan and be open to their ideas and suggestions. Ask them if you can touch base with them regularly to hold you accountable and to make sure you are meeting your targets.
Review – Your Business Plan is not a document that should sit on a shelf unopened once it’s completed. You should read it regularly and be prepared to revise and adapt it as required. Use it to monitor your progress and be sure to reward yourself and your employees when you meet your targets.

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“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome”.Samuel Johnson