Business Support: Writing a Business Plan
What Information Do I Need to include in a Business Plan?
- Remember that the most important reason for preparing a business plan is to establish for yourself the viability and future development of your business proposal.
- A business plan is a common sense document. Avoid jargon and keep to the point.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. The best sources of information are people already in business. Talk to your suppliers and to your potential customers. Have a look at what your competitors are doing.
- Be realistic. Financial projections should err on the side of caution.
- A business plan doesn't have to be a long document. A good business plan is one that explains succinctly and clearly to the potential lender or investor how the business proposal will succeed.
Typically, a good business plan will include information on the following:
Introduction / Executive Summary
- Business structure and ownership.
- The business idea.
- Brief overview of the business.
- What have you done with the business to date?
- What are your short term and long term objectives for the business?
- Personal details.
- Practical and professional experience.
- Personal qualities.
- Include CVs of the Principals involved in the business (in the Appendix)
- Describe any business courses which the promoters have attended.
Description of Proposed Business
- Describe the product or service.
- Are there unique features?
- If a product, describe the production process involved and the availability of raw materials.
- What specific need/requirement will the business serve. Are there any innovative aspects to the project?
- What are the aims and objectives of the business?
Structure of the Business
- Specify the legal status and business name under which the business will trade.
- Specify any requirements needed under any statute or regulation, e.g. planning permission, health and safety, food safety, etc.
Management Structure / Staffing
- Describe how the business will be managed and staffed.
- Highlight any particular staffing skills involved in the business.
- Describe present employment (if any), projected increase in first year and projected increase in second year of operation.
- Describe any market research which you may have carried out.
- Describe the competition in the target market.
- Describe your proposed marketing strategy and how the product or service will be distributed and sold.
- Who are your customers and what are their needs?
- What are the future trends in the market for your product or service?
- How have you arrived at the prices for your product/service?
- Submit details of premises required.
- List machinery and equipment required including cost of each item.
- How will your product/service be produced and delivered?
- What are your production/output targets?
- Describe jobs that each employee will carry out.
- Other requirements, e.g. special storage facilities.
Investment & Financing
- Prepare a schedule showing the finance needed to start the business. Show the working capital requirement separately.
- What funding is available? Own resources, bank loans/overdraft, private investor, grants, etc.
- Prepare monthly Cashflow Projections for the first two years.
- Prepare two year Profit and Loss projections and Balance Sheets.
- Describe the assumptions made in your projections, e.g. credit terms for suppliers.
- If already in business submit recent set of audited accounts.
- Why do you think the business will be a success?
- What supports are you seeking?
- Why do you need the support?
- Why should you get the support?
- Quotations for building works, machinery and equipment (if applying for a capital grant).
- Letters of approval from lending institutions.
- Letters of intent from prospective customers (if possible).
- Any other material which might help explain your business, e.g. photographs, brochures, samples of product, etc.
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