As I’m sure you’re aware, a business plan can quite possibly be the most important thing to have in business. In times of need and struggle, you need a step by step plan to stick to, and your business plan is just that. It provides strategies, priorities and specific action points. Although it’s not only for yourself, it’s for your business partner, any employees you may take on and many more. You definitely need one if you have any plans to apply for funding. Bearing all of that in mind, it needs to be spot on and it can be a daunting task. We’ve spoken to Jon Hunt, Lead Consultant of The Business Plan Team about the Keys to Writing a Successful and Professional Business Plan.
Tell me a little about yourself and The Business Plan Team…
The Business Plan Team helps growing businesses, start-ups & entrepreneurs develop professional business plans to raise funding from investors or banks. It has developed business plans for a wide range of clients raising between £200,000 and £200million across different industry sectors including Retail, Social Media, Advertising, Fashion, Interior Design, Sport and Leisure as well as Technology, Renewable Energy, Finance, Banking and Property Development.
What are the key elements of a business plan?
Well, the key elements to any business plan are generally the same whichever industry you are in though the content will change.
The Executive Summary is the first thing that everyone reads to this has to grab attention and compel the reader to read on.
The Core Sections (e.g. Product Detail, Sales and Marketing, Operational Management etc.) need to show you have an “executable” business plan not just an idea – i.e. that when you get your funding you can deliver on what you are proposing.
The Financial Forecast is another key element that every bank and investor will scrutinise – if this isn’t credible then no matter how well the plan is written you will not secure funding.
Take a look at “10 Key Sections to your Business Plan” which gives you a good outline for each section. Our blog also has a piece on what to include in a good Executive Summary.
What is the most important part of the business plan to get right?
People, Proposition, Plan and Payback!
Your People are key. You and your management team are key to delivering the business plan and your knowledge, experience and professionalism will be critical to its success.
The Proposition and how it fits well into the current market space is also critical – it is no use having a great product if there is no market for it.
The Business Plan itself needs to be credible, realistic and deliverable – there is no point in claiming your business will deliver global domination and wonderful returns if you can’t show exactly how you will do this! You must show that you have a plan of action!
Finally, if you are seeking funds from a bank or investor they need to be confident that there money is safe and that they will get Payback – a good Return on Investment (ROI). You can see more about all these on this on our blog.
Is there an ideal length for a business plan?
There is a balance to strike here. You don’t want it too long and detailed so that it puts people off reading it, but you also need to have a level of detail that shows you have done your research. We generally tend towards a written commentary of no more than around 25 pages supported by detailed financial forecasts and appendices that includes all the supporting research. Take a look at our blog here where we discuss this in more detail.
Should people write their own business plan or get someone to write it for them?
Good question! Some people believe the business owner should be exclusively responsible for writing the business plan. Others think it can be outsourced completely to a business plan writer or consultant.
When entrepreneurs or business owners approach us we find that they often don’t have the time, experience or knowledge of writing business plans and need help with writing the plan as well as the financial forecasting. They are also looking for someone with experience writing business plans and raising funding to challenge their ideas before they get in front of a bank or investor.
This is where we add most value as our consultants have all been through the challenging process of writing business plans and raising different types of business funding.
So, we think the best solution is a compromise between the two – the business owner working closely with an independent consultant to generate a business plan that is fully “owned” by the business owner. You can find more information about selecting a business plan consultant on our web-site.
Are there any other tips you can offer our members?
Yes – Be sure you have a genuine business opportunity and make sure you research it well! Many business plans fall down because they are simply an idea written down on paper and lack of any real research to qualify or quantify the business opportunity. You will save yourself a lot of time and money (and potential grief!) if you carry out detailed researched into the market (including your competitors and their products) and do some basic financial forecasts to see whether the idea is feasible before you start the business planning process. Good Luck!
One final note:
Whether you are choosing a new accountant or web designer to work with, Fashion Rider always recommends you do your research and consider all your options.
If you’re still unsure, don’t forget Fashion Rider is here to help. Please don’t hesitate in getting in contact and let us take the stress out of it for you. Also if there are any different areas we can help in just let us know.
What is your experience of writing a business plan?
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