Whether it’s to access funding, to gain a commercial lease, or for your own development, we think the secret to good business, is a good business plan. It provides a route map for you to follow, explaining exactly what you want to achieve, when, and how you’ll get there from where you stand now. If you’re thinking of starting a business, this should be your first step, if you’re already in business but don’t have a plan – it’s not too late!
So, what makes for a great business plan? It can seem a daunting task, so break it up into manageable chunks, our business planning template has logical sections which break up the information, but how do you know how much to include in each of these sections? There’s a really simple formula for this:
First things first in your business plan:
IDEA (10% of your plan)
What is it you want to do? Where will you do that from? How will you do it?
Example – I want to set up a business selling IT equipment, I can drop-ship the items so I don’t need storage, and I’m going to sell online through eBay and Amazon because I then can work from home and not have the cost of a website build and advertising campaign at the outset.
YOU (10% of your plan)
What’s special about you? Are you organised, methodical, a people person? Do have great social media skills, or are you fantastic at budgeting? Where did you pick up these skills – are they from past employment or from running a household? Why have you chosen this business type – is it your passion, your trade, your dream? Do you have the right qualifications (if needed)? What else do you need to think about when running a business, working the hours around your home commitments, or health issues? How much money do you need to make to cover your personal outgoings?
MARKET RESEARCH (20% of your plan)
What’s going on in the world that impacts your industry or sector? Are people buying what you’re selling? Where’s the evidence for this? Is the market flooded, or is there a gap, does supply outweigh demand? Is the market growing in your field? This information should help to inform the next section of planning – and that’s the BIG one!
CUSTOMER RESEARCH (30% of your plan)
OK, so this one’s a biggie – if you have no customers, you have no business – right? This one needs real thought and proper research. The more you know about your customer, the easier it is to reach them. Finding out if they come from a certain gender, age range, economic background, culture etc can really help you to target your advertising to the RIGHT person. It doesn’t matter if your advertising reaches thousands of people if they aren’t the people who want/need/can afford your product or service it will lead to revenue of zero. Finding out who your customers are is vital to ensuring the success of your business, and once you’ve drilled down to the right section of the market – talk to them! Never assume you know what they want, ask the questions; there are loads of free tools to do this during your research phase, you can get questionnaires out through Survey Monkey, you can use social media polls, you can ask family/friends (if they fit your market).
MARKETING (20% of your plan)
Now you’ve figured out who your market is, you can figure out how to reach them. Using social media? Typical users of
- Facebook age 25-44
- Twitter age 18-29
- Instagram age 18-29
- YouTube fairly even spread from age 13 upwards
- Snap Chat age 18-24
Offering a professional service or selling a business-to-business product/service? LinkedIn is the one for you.
Pay Per Click advertising – do you need a professional to outsource this to? Leaflet drops – how many of the leaflets through your door do you read? Samples, giveaways, testers, blogs, reviews…
Think about your branding, the colours and imagery that you use need to appeal to your market – and remember not to pigeon-hole yourself (eg, having ‘cakes’ in your business name might pose problems down the road if your growth plan is to offer a full catering service or open a restaurant).
OPERATIONS (10% of your plan)
Now we know what you want to do, why it suits your skills/personality, who you are selling to, and how you’re marketing to them we need to put everything together and concentrate on the day-to-day. What do you need to get started, how much will it cost you, and where are you sourcing that money? Who else is involved – suppliers, accountants, business bank account managers, staff…
How do you now deliver your product/service on a practical level, how to manage invoicing/payments? What could go wrong – how do you mitigate that risk – and how do you fix it quickly if it happens?
There’s a lot to consider, and we know it can seem overwhelming but there is lots of support out there to help you along the way.
- FREE downloadable guided business planning template
- Fully-Funded one-to-one support from a business advisor in offices across the Tees Valley
- Advice on funding sources from our trained advisors, and help with application processes
- Fully-Funded workshop provision to help you with planning, growth, and sustainability