Business plan template

Get guidance on what goes into a business plan

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Your business plan is the document that adds structure to your ideas. It also helps focus your mind! Writing a business plan need not be a difficult process, but it will take time. The more thought you can put in now, the more likely you will succeed once you launch.

Below are the typical business plan headings you need to consider. We've also included the type of questions you will need to answer.


About you

Outline your general contact details first. Then you should describe your background and why your business idea is right for you. Finally, give a short account of your personal and business background. This should highlight what's relevant to this business.

  • Why do you want to run your own business?
  • What education and qualifications do you have? What about previous work experience?
  • What industry knowledge and experience do you have?
  • What other personal information might be relevant to this business? (For example, is there any family history in this industry? An existing connection with suppliers or clients? An established mentor relationship?)

About the business

Here, you should include your general company details. You should also give a summary of your business idea and model. What product or service will be sold? What is the vision 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)?
  • What is the business vision (where will the business be in one, three and five years)? Include financial projections. Try to make the aims SMART:
    Specific.
    Measurable.
    Achievable.
    Realistic.
    Time-bound.
  • What sets this business apart from the competition? Is the business’ product/service cheaper? Is the business’ product/service better quality? Are you filling a gap 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? Do you foresee offering additional products or services?
  • How will the product be produced or how will the service be carried out? Include any equipment needed to make 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? For example, will you have a shop to sell goods? Will you take online orders? Visit customers yourself?
  • 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)?

The market

  • Detail your customers, their demand for the product/service and how you'll reach them.
  • Who are the business' typical customers and where they are based? Will customers be individuals, businesses or both? Describe the profile of your expected customers. For example, their age, gender, what they like, 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 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. Have people expressed interest in buying your products or services? If so, mention that 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 or focus group feedback. It could also include selling your product on a small scale (test trading).

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

In business jargon this is called a SWOT analysis. It should always be considered by entrepreneurs starting a new business..

  • 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, assets or connections can your business use to its advantage?
  • What are the main threats to your business? What aspects of your environment or competition may hinder your success?

The competition

Knowing your competitors is vital to any business and sales strategy. Where are they located and how do they compare to your company? Search the internet for your competition. If applicable, search around your physical location as well.

Please consider the following types of competitors:

  • Direct Competitors.
    Those selling the same or similar products or services. For a coffee shop, direct competitors would be other coffee shops.
  • Indirect Competitors.
    Those selling substitute or alternative products or services. For coffee shops, indirect competitors sell food or drink and have seating. Examples could be bubble tea shops or pubs.

Table of competitors

Below is an example of a table to compare competitors.

Company ACompany BCompany CCompany DCompany E
Competitor name, location and size
Product / Service offered
Price of comparable product / service
Strengths
of competitor
Weaknesses of competitor

 

 


Start-up costs and sales forecast

Here, outline the purchases and expenses necessary to get started.

Start-up costs are more than the physical items necessary for your business. Consider costs for renting premises or electric/gas bills. You may have costs for producing your product/service. Don't forget insurance costs or staff wages!

You should consider all the costs below.

 

COMPANY NAME
Cashflow forecast
January XX, 20XX
Month of FIRST YEAR Trading
Pre Start1
Revenue/sales forecast
Sales source 1 [please describe]00
Sales source 2 [please describe]00
Equity/Cash introduced00
Loan cash in00
Total money in/income (A)
Expenditure/costs forecast
Owner salary
Loan repayments00
Business rent00
Business purchases [please describe]00
Inventory expense00
Marketing expense00
Owner salary above PSB needs00
Staff wages and taxes (non-owner)00
Packaging00
Telephone/Mobile00
Heat lighting & power (business)00
Council tax (business premises)00
Postage, printing and stationery00
Travel and car expenses00
Transport and delivery00
Computer expenses00
Insurance00
Miscellaneous00
Repairs and maintenance00
Legal and professional fees00
Equipment leasing00
VAT payments00
Other expenditure [please describe]00
Total money out/expenses (B)
Balance/Net cashflow (A-B)
Monthly opening balance
Closing balance

 


You will also need to put together a personal survival budget. This outlines your monthly income and expenses based on recent bank statements. From this, you can work out what you need to earn from your business in order to live.

Finally, you will need to explain what you plan to do should your business fail. Be clear about how you will afford any loan repayments you may need to make.

Good luck!

Bryn Glover has been Editor of Startups.co.uk since 2017. Running the site's content strategy, Bryn spends a lot of time speaking to entrepreneurs and preparing for Startups' annual editorial campaigns.

Having worked in journalism for just under a decade, Bryn wrote for sites like The Times, Reader's Digest, Independent and Times Higher Education before moving into the small business world.

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