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A considered business plan will not only help you get organised and crystalise your vision, it is also essential if you are seeking outside funding. 

1. What should be at the beginning of my business plan? 

The executive summary, this should be 6 short paragraphs on the following subjects to give an overview of your business. This is your big opening number so keep it concise, professionally presented and attention grabbing! 
 
What the name and function of the business is. 
What makes you unique within your industry. 
How you are going to become known to your target audience. 
How you will structure your business. 
Top line finance facts outlining when you expect to break even, potential revenue and profit projections. Have detailed reports to back up these attention-grabbing figures. Note you will have chance to go into more depth in your analysis section (see point 2). 
State how much money you are asking for and what the investor(s) will get in return. 

2. What analysis should I do? 

After your executive summary should come your analysis section full of facts to make your potential investor realise this is their one-way ticket to private island ownership! 
 
There are many areas and types of analysis you can carry out either before starting your business or prior to writing your business plan. It is good to decide which you think are necessary/most helpful, consider if it is possible for you to gather useful/accurate data for the report and how long to spend on the process. Add attractive headline statistics from your findings to your business plan and have the in-depth reports to back your figures up if questions are asked. 
 
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. This is usually presented in a grid format on one page with bullet points. This kind of breakdown can be applied to many different areas of your business as well as your competitors and the industry as a whole. 
Quantitative data and qualitative findings. It is best to have a mix of these within your business plan, ignoring either can leave serious blind spots in your presentation and business strategies. 
Financial projections. You may need a professionals help with this one but if you are asking for any fiscal input, investors will need to see that their contribution will eventually yield a return. Be honest, adjust your plans inline with the numbers and be certain you can achieve what you say. 

3. Have you thought about the day-to-day running of your business? 

You may have already started your business and are writing a business plan when looking for investment. If this is the case explaining the operational factors behind your business will be easier, but this is a good chance to review them and see how you could improve them. Do this and add it after the analysis section of your business plan. 
 
Alternatively, if you are writing your business plan pre-start up or during the beginning of your journey to going full-time with your venture, this is where you get into the inner workings of your business to help investors visualise the dream. This part is relatively straight forward but demonstrates you have considered the practicalities of your operation. 
 
Staffing, team members, contractors, freelancers, mentors, outside advisors. It is good to have these laid out in a hierarchical flow chart and to briefly outline what each person’s experience will bring to the business. 
Premises. Even if you are an online business you will need to state where stock will be stored and shipping will be done from. 
Record keeping. Explain how the administration of the business will be kept up to date. Include details of your accountant here. 
 
And hey presto, you have your business plan! We would always advise putting this together pre-start up, even if you are not looking for outside investment just yet. It does not have to be super slick or go into minutia detail if you are not presenting to people outside your business, it can be a great opportunity to take a step back and see the bigger picture to ensure you are on the right track and have not missed anything. 
 
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