To ensure sustained success for your small business, an in-depth, well-maintained business plan is an absolute must. If you want to create a business plan or review your existing plan, we have put together some tips and key things to account for in your planning, as well as a handy business plan template below.
Why do I need a business plan?
A business plan is your roadmap to achieving your business goals. You will need a business plan to keep yourself and your team accountable, and to keep tabs on the progress of your business. A business plan will outline the core mission and values of your business, the goals you strive to achieve over the long term, the hurdles you face, and the strategies you will use to overcome them. It will help you identify opportunities and inform your decision-making process.
Here are some key things that a business plan can help your business with:
- Identifying what your business stands for
The importance of getting a clear picture of what your business is all about cannot be understated. This includes your mission statement and company values, which will inform your marketing and sales strategy, and help you attract the right people to your business, including customers, employees, and key stakeholders.
- Knowing your customers better
A good business plan will include an in-depth market analysis, which will help you identify your target customers, and allow you to get inside their heads and find out what makes them tick so you can tailor your marketing strategy to capture their attention and meet their needs.
- Securing funding
Your business plan will be a key element when it comes to securing funding through bank loans, grants, investors and more. It demonstrates the direction of your business, and should include financial planning such as a cash flow forecast, which gives key stakeholders certainty that your business is a viable investment.
Key Components of a Business Plan
- Executive Summary: A concise overview of your business, including its mission, vision, and a brief description of your business concept, target market, and competitive landscape.
- Key Numbers: A snapshot of the financial position of your business, and your financial projections for the next 12 months.
- SWOT Analysis: An in-depth analysis of your market and your business’s position within it, including your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Customer Segmentation: An analysis of your key target customer groups, with buyer personas, buying motivations and marketing preferences.
- Competitive Analysis: An analysis of your primary competitors and what they are doing.
- Marketing Plan: Outline your marketing strategy, activities, goals, budget, and technology you will use to deliver your marketing strategy.
- Cash Flow Forecast: Create a cash flow forecast and add this to your business plan to help you get an understanding of the cash position of your business.
- To-Do List: Once you have finalised your business plan, you should then make a to-do list to put your plan into action.
Some final tips for creating your business plan:
- Be realistic: Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. There is little point in setting goals that you know your business cannot achieve in one year – this will only discourage you. Set achievable goals based on your market analysis and financial position of your business.
- Know your customers: Understanding and connecting with your target customers is the key to your business’s success. Tailor your business plan to your target customers to keep your marketing strategy and product/service delivery in line with their needs.
- Keep it updated: Your business plan should be a live document. Get in the habit of referring to it regularly and reviewing it often so it will reflect changes in your business environment and keep your business on track to achieve its goals.
- Seek professional guidance: Get in touch with your local SBA if you need some help with your business plan. We can help you with some tailored advice and insights about your business, and we can also help with cash flow forecasting and tax planning.
Get started with creating your business plan today and download our FREE template below.
Make sure you include a cash flow forecast in your business plan. Read our tips on cash flow forecasting and download our FREE cash flow forecast template here.
Don’t forget if you need help with your business plan, reach out to your local SBA – we’re here to help.