Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Friday, 20 August 2010 11:00 UK

How to write a business plan

business plan
A good business plan will attract initial investors

The business plan captures the strategic operational and financial aims of the business.

A good business plan will contain:

  • an initial executive summary, summarising the detail of the business proposal
  • a written overview of the business' aims
  • its product or service
  • management team
  • financial forecasts and appendices, such as the CVs of key management members, market research data or technical product information.

The body of your business plan should cover several areas in detail.

Give the reason for the business being established - include business goals, for example, whether ambitious growth is desired or a regular, steady trading level.

Explain what your business will do in simple terms, highlighting any features that set it apart from rivals.

Include market and competitor information, outlining what part of the market you are targeting, key competitors and what differentiates you from them.

Financial forecast

Think about your sales and marketing strategy, include information on how the product or service will be priced, channels to market, advertising and marketing plans.

Details of key personnel and their relevant experience are also important, as is operational information like office location, special equipment and expected employee headcount.

Business plan essentials
Management background
Business aims - what are your future plans?
An assessment of the competition
Research to back claims and forecasts

State the financing you need, based on your financial forecasts.

Include details of any finance provided by the founder or management team and indicate the key risks to the business and any mitigating action you can take.

Your plan should also include a sales forecast, cashflow forecast and a projected profit and loss account for up to five years' ahead.

Larger businesses should also draw up a projected balance sheet.

The figures used must be reasonable - avoid being over optimistic. The involvement of a qualified accountant in preparing these forecasts is recommended.

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