How to write a business plan
You've got a great idea and you're keen to get started. But for the best chance of success it's important to put together a detailed business plan that describes and establishes key aspects of your new enterprise.
There are three very important reasons for writing a business plan:
It's a really good idea to step back and give some considered thought to your proposed business. Taking the time to outline your goals, think carefully about your products and services, identify key customer types, and delve into the financials, helps provide clarity that can be hard to achieve during the exciting ideas phase of a new venture.
You will be expected to have a sound business plan if you are applying for a business loan or asking venture capitalists to invest in your company. They will be keen to see your sales forecasts and cost estimates, to consider the true profitability of your business.
Your business plan isn't a fixed entity. You should review it on a regular basis as your business develops and market forces change. Use it to assess your business closely, see what has worked in the past, consider what will work best in the future, and produce ongoing costed plans that quantify these steps.
Your business will be unique, so it needs its own bespoke plan. While it is good to work from a template, make sure that you focus on areas of the plan that relate specifically to your specific circumstances – and don't worry about any that aren't particularly relevant.
View this exercise as a way of testing your ideas and deciding on strategies that will help you to reach your goals. After all, a solid business plan is essential for long-term business success.
There are many good free business plan templates around ranging from the basic to the highly detailed, so it's worth looking around for one that reflects the nature and scale of your business. A good starting point could be one of the options published by the Federal Government:
Remember, a good business plan takes time, planning and research to put together – and it’s worth the up-front effort to assess if your idea is viable as a business and how you’re going to make it happen.
Generally, the key points to focus on are:
This should be a succinct summary of all that follows. It's best to write this page last.
Here you should list all the details of your company such as:
You should also describe your products and/or services:
Also cover employment:
Your competitors are your benchmark, and the more you know about them, the more you’ll learn about your company and potential customers.
All the information above can be used to create a SWOT Analysis, where you look at the Strengths and Weaknesses internal to your business and the Opportunities and Threats coming from outside it.
Here's where you describe where you want to be and what business principles and actions will help get you there. Areas you should consider include:
Your business plan can be as simple or as complex as your business is, but the more time you devote to getting it right the better. Imagine everything a potential buyer of your business would want to know, and you won't go too far wrong.
The information in this article is general in nature and does not take your objectives, financial situation or needs into account. Consider its appropriateness to these factors; and we recommend you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before making any decisions.