Business plan checklist
What you should cover to give yourself a solid start
Once you've decided to bite the bullet and set up your own venture, you need to know where you're taking the business and how you're going to get there - for your own sake, as much as for others. This is why preparing the right kind of business plan is so important. So, what elements do you need to include in your plan and what is its overall purpose?
"A well thought-out business plan is undoubtedly one of the cornerstones of any successful business," says Julie Stanford, creator of the Essential Business Guide. "Its preparation will give you the opportunity to encapsulate your ideas, targets, actions and forecasts before you embark on the long and often lonely journey into the world of small business," she says.
"Whilst the business plan will be required when talking to your bank or potential investors, it should be first and foremost for you - because it will enable you to judge whether or not all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fit together and whether your enterprise will be sustainable financially and truly represent your values and ability," says Julie.
"It's not something you write once and file away. It should be a well-thumbed document, regularly consulted and updated as your enterprise grows, and adhered to as your own set of instructions to yourself," she maintains.
A business plan is:
Planning is about recognising where you are now, identifying where you want to get to and what you want to achieve, and the real crunch part, how you're going to do it. Bear in mind, though, that your plan should not be set in stone and will most likely change as your business progresses, so regular reviews will be necessary. It may assist you in preparing or revising your plan to use the following checklist of questions:
Get it right
�It will undoubtedly be one of the most important business documents you ever create.�
"Whether you are preparing your business plan to encapsulate your thoughts, provide your company with direction, or to win over your bank manager, it will undoubtedly be one of the most important business documents you ever create," says Julie.
"Don't be frightened to show a draft to friends, family and business contacts and ask them for comments. Which parts did they perhaps not understand? And if your budget can stretch to it, seeking the opinion and advice of a professional business advisor could also turn out to be one of the wisest investments you make in the early days," she concludes.