Why do you need a business plan? And what needs to go into it?
Is it more than a cashflow forecast? Here's some practical advice.

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What goes into a business plan?

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Why do you need a business plan? And what needs to go into it? Here's some practical advice.

We're often told "You need a business plan". It may some consultant trying to sell you their services (yes, we can help you!), or a bank from whom you are trying to borrow money - or just someone trying to help you. In another article in the archive, we point out The Power of Planning Ahead, showing the benefits of having a clear idea of where you are heading.

But what should be in a business plan? Here's a quick check list to help you:
  1. Objectives: personal, business, consequences
  2. Business: history (if already established), description, ownership, key people
  3. Management: experience, responsibilities, details, missing skills and how they are to be obtained
  4. Products: description (including photographs if possible), tests (including method of production), cost calculations, advantages - different / better
  5. Market: Size, major customers, major competitors (including your advantages over them), market research (predicted share of the market)
  6. Sales plan: marketing strategy, pricing (calculations / competitiveness), method of sale, advertising (method / cost), average order size
  7. Suppliers: who, availability, quality, lead times, credit
  8. Personnel: numbers, skills, training
  9. Physical resources: premises (location / availability / adequacy / cost), plant, equipment and vehicles (availability / cost / lead time / lease or buy)
  10. Profit and cash forecasts: profit forecasts (for up to 3 years), cash flow forecasts (for up to 3 years), balance sheets (at yearly accounting dates), clearly stated assumptions, risks attached, break-even analysis (survival, should the business under-achieve)
  11. Finance: requirements (fixed assets / working capital), anticipated repayment schedule, sources
Seems like a lot of work, eh? Well it is, and that's why some businesses seek outside help when putting a business plan together.

But, just as you wouldn't put up a building unless you were sure that the foundations were secure, so a detailed, and well thought-out business plan (maintained at regular intervals) will help to ensure the survival of your business

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