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How to Write A Great First Business Plan (For Beginners)

If you’re thinking about starting a new business, being able to write a business plan is essential. It points you and other stakeholders in the right direction and tells you what you need to do to achieve your future goals for the company while giving you the best chance of success. 

It can feel daunting to start a business. There are fully-funded mentoring and support services available in the UK that can help to make your dream a reality.

What Is A Business Plan?

A business plan defines the company’s day-to-day operations as well as its aims and objectives. A plan is absolutely essential for any aspiring business owner hoping to turn a dream or hobby into a functioning and successful business.

Why Do You Need To Create A Good Business Plan?

Writing a business plan that is both professional and actionable can be a difficult balance to get right, but it’s extremely important.

When you first start your business, you may be looking into partnerships, loans or even grants. Many of these will require you to submit a business plan, and this acts as a first real impression of your business – particularly if you are still in the early planning stages and have not yet launched.

Banks may need to see a professional business plan in order to grant you funds or even open up a business bank account so that you can begin making money for the business.

It’s not the easiest document to put together, and it can take some time, but it’s well worth it when you get it right.

Key Components of A Great Business Plan

There are several ways to write a business plan (some much longer and more detailed than others), but they mostly follow a similar format and contain the same basic information.

Executive summary

An executive summary is essentially an overview of your business plan that highlights all of the important points. Think of the summary as a kind of blurb for your business plan – if it’s not effective or missing some key information, then other stakeholders are probably not going to be interested in reading the rest of the book.

Although specifics can vary, mentors and new business advisors commonly suggest the following inclusions:

  • Company objectives and goals
  • Research on the Target market
  • Product and service offerings
  • Marketing and sales strategies
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Funding and budget overviews
  • Any personnel or employment information
  • The implementation strategy for the business plan

If you’re unsure of whether to include something in your executive summary when writing your business plan, it’s often helpful to imagine you’re in the shoes of the person reading it. Think about whether adding that information would influence key decisions when it comes to things like investments or partnerships, and that will often tell you whether you need to add it in.

Business Overview

A business overview is an important part of writing your business plan as it illustrates an image of the company and what it will look like when it is up and running. 

It will cover what the business will do, any essential management, and the types of customer or customer needs that your business will service. All of this is important information for providing a clear picture of the company and what can be expected when everything is operational, and your business becomes active.

Investors, banks and even potential clients might look at your company overview to see what your business does and whether working together would be a good fit, so it’s really important to get it right. 

If you intend to work with any external partners, like marketing agencies, having a clear business overview will lay a good foundation for your marketing efforts. Others working on your business and helping it grow will better understand who you are and who your ideal audiences might be.

Target Market

One of the key stages for writing a good business plan that is informative and actionable is identifying and analysing your target market.

Conducting a solid market analysis will essentially inform you if your product or service is viable. It will give you an understanding of competitors, the industry and exactly who your ideal customer is, and the needs and problems that your business helps them with.

Creating a clear vision of your perfect customer will inform many of your marketing decisions and can be vital to the final implementation of your strategy. Identifying your target market at this early stage will ensure consistency and help you keep a clear vision for your final product and the promotion of the product.

Market Research

Market research will advise you on the circumstances in the industry. Conducting market research involves researching competitors and products and getting an idea of how open your company’s offering to the market might be. 

Regularly conducting market research can be invaluable. It will help you identify gaps in the market and provide you with opportunities to expand your services to fulfil the wants and needs of potential customers. 

Competitor Analysis

Do you know who you’re fighting for your customer’s attention? If not, then you really need to be looking at your competitors and what their businesses are offering to get a better idea of where you could be providing additional value and beating them to a sale.

When writing a business plan, outlining your competitors is so important. Not only does it give you an opportunity to take a deep dive into the market, but it also shows external stakeholders that you know your market and are aware of what other products and services are out there.

If your sector is extremely competitive, it’s a good idea to look at some big players in the market as well as some smaller, more local competitors. You can look into what they’re doing well and how their customers respond to their service, and this might inform some of your marketing and operational decisions.

Business Operations

Business operations are, in essence, the day-to-day functions of your business. Details likely to be included in a business operations section of a business plan include:

  • Who is in charge of the core functions of the business?
  • What is each department or role responsible for within the business? How will these roles be fulfilled? This could include staffing plans, work scheduling plans and even physical locations of any offices, warehouses or factories that are needed to be operational.
  • How much money or how many resources will the business need to fulfil expected operations? This might include machinery, IT, staffing costs, or even company fleet vehicles.
  • Which partners, suppliers or agencies will be involved?
  • What are the goals in terms of units sold, revenue or fundraising?

SMART goals might be a good idea in this section of your business plan to help demonstrate how these operations will be implemented in the short term and how the operational decisions you make will impact the direction of the business. 

Get funded 1-2-1 help with writing your business plan

If you’re looking to start a new business in the UK, we offer fully-funded 1-2-1 mentoring and support sessions for businesses in the North East to help with daunting tasks like writing a business plan.