With so may different aspects of starting a business it can be difficult to keep track of everything you have worked on. It’s therefore worth putting all of your ideas into one document – your business plan.
This could include your reasons for starting your own business, your idea, business name, target market and competitor analysis, and any other work that you’ve done so far.
Your business plan acts as your business idea workbook that you can build upon refer to when undertaking any further work. It can be on your phone, written down or typed, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you can access it when that brilliant idea pops into your head. It’s also a great feeling seeing what you’ve accomplished so far!
A business plan isn’t a necessity but we’d recommend giving it a go. You’ll be able to refresh yourself on the work you’ve done so far, and you might think of something better in the process.
Business Plan Template
If you’re looking for something more detailed then The Prince’s Trust provide a great business plan template for you to use free of charge. You can download the template on the Prince’s Trust website right here.
It takes what we’ve discussed in other part of our Guide to Starting a Business and provides a simple and easy to understand plan template for you to fill out with the sections we have covered so far including:
- A bit about you and your reasons for starting a business
- What your product and/or service is
- The name of your business idea
- Your target market and the research you have done to identify your customer profile
- Your competitor analysis and your proposed unique selling point (USP)
The business plan template also covers your marketing strategy and helps you think ahead about the costs of your products and/or service, and how you are going to deliver it to your customers or clients.
Writing Your Own Business Plan
You can either follow free templates provided by online sites such as The Prince’s Trust or start your own.
Your business plan should be short, concise and to the point. You don’t need to write an essay! It serves to remind you about the important points and you’ll be able to explain them if anyone ever asked.
There’s a number of sections usually associated with a business plan:
- Executive (overall) summary
- Description of your business
- Market analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Marketing – how you will be telling people about your business
- Operations – where you will be working and who will be running it
- Financial – how you will be funding your business
- Forecast – your short, medium and long term goals
You can, however, write your business plan however you like, whether its on a word document, on your phone’s notes application or in a notebook.
The executive summary explains your business in a nutshell; what is it, where will it be, who is it for and why. It’s essentially exactly what you would explain to someone if they asked you what your business is.
If you need help with any of the business plan sections above, download the Business Plan Pack on the Prince’s Trust website. It’ll take you through each section of a business plan in detail.
Is It Worth Writing a Business Plan?
It depends. A quick business plan on a notebook or your phone is a great idea. A detailed plan using a template such as the Prince’s Trust one isn’t a necessity, but can help in the long run.
As you progress your business idea you’ll have more and more to add you your business plan. You can then go back and refine any areas of your plan that become outdated or if you find new and better ways of doing something, such as refining your customer profile.
Your business goals will change regularly. You can keep on top of what you should be currently focusing on as well as what you are working towards within your plan. Updating your goals in your business plan will help you keep on top of working hard to achieving those goals.
Further down the line you may need to get some sort of finding or investment for your business idea to grow. A business plan is usually a necessity when going for funding. You can’t predict what opportunities will arise around the corner and having a business plan ready to finalise in a moments notice may save you time and effort.
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It’s time to define your goals; both personal and business. Goals give purpose to to your business idea and can coincide with your reasons for starting a business. Breaking your goals down into short, medium and long term helps with keeping on top of your workload and highlights your progress as you complete them.