I need to write a business plan to apply for a loan/grant, can you help?
What should a good business plan include?
Do I really need a business plan?
How do I write a business plan to help achieve our goal?
Can you help me prepare financial forecasts for my business plan?
In everyday life, the philosophical side in many of us follows the ‘If you don’t where you’re going, any road will get you there’ approach. For some, this brings success. For others, and especially those who are beginning a journey into entrepreneurship, a slightly different approach is needed. Landsker is also surprised to find how many established businesses still do not have a business plan.
In today’s rapidly changing marketplace, planning your business logically by writing a business plan is a failsafe route to success.
Plan for purpose
The phrase ‘Business plan’ is often overused and can sometimes cause confusion. Business plans exist in a diverse range of formats, from one page summaries to 50+ page bound booklets containing financial projections for the next 1 to 10 years.
As a busy person managing an existing organisation or about to launch a new business, your time is precious. It is crucial that you use time productively, and that you write for purpose. An effective business plan can help you to:
- Clarify in your mind what you are going to do, and how you are going to do it
- Make an application for grant funding or a business loan
- Communicate your company’s mission and intentions, internally and externally
- Plan and measure the progress of your organisation
- Keep your organisation on track by comparing forecasted versus actual activity.
A business plan should be a living document
The marketplace is constantly evolving which means a business plan should have the flexibility to adapt at the same (or preferably faster) pace, to enable an organisation to stay ahead of the game. Your plan should ‘think’ commercially and be comprehensive, in that it will explain not just where you plan to be in the future, but how you are going to get there. A good business plan will provide competitive advantage.
Use your plan to guide your way. If you’ve spent valuable time and effort crafting the content, make it work for you. Don’t let the dust collect on a shelf, refer to it occasionally to remind you why you created the business and how you should be progressing.
Key features of a good business plan
The first rule about writing a plan is to assume the reader knows nothing. Think about how a document can tell an engaging story, from initial idea through to the details of the final product or project. Include pictures as well as words to bring the story to life.
A business plan template includes:
- Justification of the business idea (market research, customer demand, etc.)
- Background information (about the project and key personnel)
- The overall vision of the project (the end goal)
- Strategy (how you are going to get there)
- Tactical activity (product/property/service development, recruitment, marketing, training)
- Measurable objectives (areas that can be monitored to gauge success)
- Financial forecasts (details of projected cash flow and profit over the long term)
Write for your audience
Tailor your business plan to the reader for the best results. If you’re making a funding application, your plan should focus on the financials and demonstrate how your business is going to generate profit and maintain financial sustainability. If it needs to communicate the company vision and mission to employees, it should highlight emotive objectives and include detailed strategy to guide how the team will get there.
Landsker’s experience of working with a diverse range of clients, across multiple business sectors, enables us to produce practical and professional business plans to engage with the right audience. We work with our clients to help them perceive the bigger picture and then understand and define key objectives to prepare for smooth and successful project delivery. Above all, the information you include in your business plan must be understood and owned by you.