A GUIDE TO WRITING A BUSINESS PLAN No. 004 May 2011
I n f o r m a t i o n
Page 2 of 4income. However, investors will want to know what really motivatesyou, so, for example, it will be important to consider the following typesof questions:•Why are you going into business and what do you want outof it?•Will the business supplement your main income or replace it?•Are you starting the business as an investment, to sell as soonas you can?•Will your business provide jobs for family members?The answers to questions like these will have an impact on your business' aims, development and strategy. For example, if you arestarting a business as an investment opportunity, the focus of your planning will be leading up to your exit - the sale of your business. Your strategy must therefore focus on building your business quickly andmaximising its value to get the best selling price possible. Where doyou want your business to be in five years? Try to articulate this soyou can demonstrate how you will start to move your businesstowards that point.Defining your business vision will help you identify clear and challengingobjectives, and determine how you will go about achieving these goalsas your venture evolves.
Business description and purpose
What exactly will your business do? Be as specific as possible aboutthe type of business you are starting. If you are going to open arestaurant, for example, will it be a family restaurant serving good-quality, local food at competitive prices in a family-friendly environment?Or will it be more upmarket, serving gourmet dishes to discerningcustomers in an intimate setting?How will your products and services differ from those offered by your competitors? Why should customers want to come to you and howwill you differentiate your business to make it successful?When describing your business, think of it in terms of writing a missionstatement. This statement should give a clear summary of the purposeof your business, and should be easily understood by you, your staff,your customers and your potential investors.If you cannot describe your business in these specific terms, youshould rethink your business idea, focusing on your business' corepurpose, target audience and mission.
Legal status and licences
What legal status will your business have? Are you intending to bea sole trader, a partnership or a limited company? These decisions willaffect your tax liability and determine when you will pay tax, and hencewill have an impact on your cash flow. Investors may also beconcerned about the legal status of the business and the impact onliability, and you need to be sure that you have chosen the mostappropriate legal status to meet your future needs. See BIF 32,Choosing the Right Legal Status for your Business for further information.Do you need any licences before you can start trading? (If so, youneed to demonstrate you are aware of what you need to apply for andthat you have taken steps to do so.) Food businesses, childcarebusinesses and businesses that involve animals, among others, needto obtain licences from their local authority. See BIF 152, A Guide toLocal Authority Business Regulations for further information.If you intend to operate your business from home, you may need toobtain planning permission or building regulations approval. Evidencethat you have obtained the necessary approvals should be providedin the plan, together with details of any necessary permissions fromyour landlord or mortgage provider.See BIF 17, A Guide to Running a Business from Home for further information.
How will you manage your business? Getting organised will makeyour business more efficient and ultimately enjoyable. Even if you arethe only person involved, it is still worth looking at your key skills,responsibilities and management processes at this stage. Your planwill need to consider the following key management areas:•Marketing and sales.•Finance.•Recruitment and staffing.•Product development or product sourcing.•General management.•Administration.You will also need to set out how you aim to monitor your business'performance (against objectives and targets), and to co-ordinate theroles of any key staff.
To succeed in any business you will need to have a thoroughunderstanding of your target market, including its size and the shareyou hope you can realistically achieve. Once you have developed aclear understanding of your market in terms of size, location, groupsof potential customers and their profiles, potential competitors, trendsand influencing factors, it's easier to define your overall marketingstrategy clearly. You can break this down into objectives and targetsrelating to the volume and share of the market (or market segments)you hope to achieve and when you intend to achieve them.For example:•Who are your initial marketing targets (specific groups or market segments)?•What products, services or particular deals will you offer tothem?•What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and how doesthis differentiate you from your competitors?•Is there a specific volume, value or share of these markets thatyou hope to achieve?•When do you hope to achieve these targets by?•Why are you choosing these markets first?•Who will you target next, for instance in six months' or a year'stime?
How will you carry out your marketing? Once you have a clear marketing strategy, you need to be clear about how you are going tomake it happen. A detailed marketing plan should explain how you willgo about achieving each of your marketing targets and objectives (asdefined in your marketing strategy above) either by particular targetsegment, by type of marketing activity, or both.Such a plan will include some or all of the following:•The marketing methods you will use for each segment of your target market.•The specific action you are going to take to reach eachsegment.•A timescale or timetable for each marketing activity.•The people or organisations that are going to carry it out.•The estimated costs to undertake particular marketing activities(your marketing budget).•How you will monitor and review progress.•How you will handle the response to your marketing.•If it helps, think about the four 'P's, of product, price, promotionand place.