Business plan template: Download yours
Get guidance on what goes into a business plan and download your free business plan template from Start Up Loans
Start Up Loans has developed a free business plan template that start-ups can use to help apply for a loan.
A clear business plan is essential for all start-ups. This will help focus your mind and add a structure to your ideas. Writing a business plan is not a difficult process, but it will take time and determination. Remember that the more thought put into your business now, the better chance of success once the business is launched.
Take a look at the business plan headings and the type of questions you will need to answer below…
Alongside general contact details, you should describe your background and why your business idea is right for you. Give a short account of your personal and business background detailing the areas that are relevant to this business.
- Why do you want to run your own business?
- What education, qualifications and previous work experience do you have?
- What industry knowledge and experience do you have?
- What other personal information might be relevant to this business? (This may include family history in this industry, existing connection with suppliers or clients, an established mentor relationship, etc.)
About the business
Alongside general company details, you should succinctly summarise what the business is all about: how will it operate, what product or service will be sold and what the vision is for the company’s future.
- What are you going to do and how are you going to do it (your elevator pitch)?
- What is the business mission (the main purpose of the business)? You can read more about creating mission statements here.
- What is the business vision (where will the business be in one, three and five years – including financial projections)? Try to make the business aims SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
- What sets this business apart from the competition? You can read more about creating a USP here. Is the business’ product/service cheaper? Is the business’ product/service better quality? Is the business filling a hole in the market?
- How will the business be staffed?
- How will the business be financed?
About the product(s) or service(s)
- What product(s) or service(s) is the business going to sell? Detail if you foresee additional products or services being offered in the future.
- How will the product be produced or how will the service be carried out? Include what equipment, tools, intellectual property or other assets that will be necessary to produce or deliver your product/service.
- How much does the product(s) or service(s) cost to produce/deliver?
- How much will the product(s) or service(s) be sold to customers for? What is your pricing strategy?
- How will the product(s) or service(s) be sold to the customer? What is your marketing strategy? Explain if you will have a shop to sell goods, visit customers yourself, take online orders, etc.
- Are there any legal requirements that are necessary to start this business? Potential legal licenses a business may need include: Health and Safety Regulation; Food Hygiene and Safety; Intellectual Property, Copyrights, Patents; Online and Distance Selling; Data Protection
- Are there any insurance requirements that are necessary to start this business? Potential insurance requirements may include: Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, Employers Liability, Contract Dispute, Income Protection, Critical Illness, Life Cover, Automobile Insurance, Office or Home Insurance.
- What is the growth potential for the product(s) or service(s)?
- Detail your business’ customers, their demand for the product/service and how you will reach them. You can read more about measuring the market for your business idea here.
- Who are the business’ typical customers and where they are based? Will customers be individuals, businesses or both? Describe the profile and your understanding of your expected customers (age, gender, what they like, how they socialise, where they shop, etc.).
- How many of these customers will this business have the potential opportunity to reach? Outline the size of your market and the potential share of this market this business can reach.
- Have you sold any products/services to customers already? If yes, please describe these sales and be prepared to show evidence of these sales. If customers have expressed interest in buying your products or services already you can detail that information here.
- Why will customers buy this business’ products or services instead of your competitors?
- What can be learned about the business’ market from desk research?
- What can be learned about the business’ market from field research? Field research is market testing using your prospective customers. This may include customer questionnaires, focus group feedback, product testing, selling your product on a limited basis (test trading), etc.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
In business jargon this is called a SWOT analysis and is always considered by entrepreneurs starting a new business.
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- What are your business’ strengths? What gives your business an advantage over the competition?
- What are your business’ weaknesses? What places your business at a disadvantage compared to the competition?
- What are the main opportunities available to your business? What people, elements, assets or connections can your business use to its advantage?
- What are the main threats to your business? What elements of your environment or competition can cause your business trouble?
Understanding who your competitor companies are, where they are located and how they compare to your company is essential in planning any business and sales strategy.
Search around the geography of your business and search the internet for your business’ competition.
Please consider the following types of competitors:
- Direct Competitors – Those selling the same or similar products or services (if your business is a coffee shop, direct competitors are other coffee shops)
- Indirect Competitors – Those selling substitute or alternative products or services (if your business is a coffee shop, indirect competitors are other business selling food and drink with a place to sit such as bubble tea shops, pubs, fast food or any other places satisfying a customer’s need for food or drink.
Table of competitors
Below is an example of a table you can use to compare competitors.
|Company A||Company B||Company C||Company D||Company E|
|Competitor name, location and size|
|Product / Service offered|
|Price of comparable product / service|
|Weaknesses of competitor|
Start-up costs and sales forecast
This section should outline all the purchases and expenses necessary to get your business started.
Start-up costs will go beyond the physical items that are necessary for your business and may include renting a premises, electric/gas bills at that premises, costs of producing your product/service, developing a website, transporting your product to your customers, insurance for your business, staff wages, etc.
All these costs should be considered.
|January XX, 20XX|
|Month of FIRST YEAR Trading|
|Sales source 1 [please describe]||0||0|
|Sales source 2 [please describe]||0||0|
|Loan cash in||0||0|
|Total money in/income (A)||–||–|
|Business purchases [please describe]||0||0|
|Owner salary above PSB needs||0||0|
|Staff wages and taxes (non-owner)||0||0|
|Heat lighting & power (business)||0||0|
|Council tax (business premises)||0||0|
|Postage, printing and stationery||0||0|
|Travel and car expenses||0||0|
|Transport and delivery||0||0|
|Repairs and maintenance||0||0|
|Legal and professional fees||0||0|
|Other expenditure [please describe]||0||0|
|Total money out/expenses (B)||–||–|
|Balance/Net cashflow (A-B)||–||–|
|Monthly opening balance||–||–|
You will also need to put together a personal survival budget, which should draw on your last three months of bank statements to summarise your current monthly income and expenses. This will work out the amount of money you need to make from your business in order to live.
Finally, you will need to summarise what you plan to do should your business fail and how you will afford any loan repayments you may need to make.