A business plan is more than just a justification for money – it’s a justification for the business itself. Why should the business exist, and why will it work? It’s as much about being honest with yourself and creating something thoroughly researched as it is about persuasive writing and clarity. There are plenty of templates, sample plans and courses available online to help you write and structure your business plan – but if what I’ve said above rings true to you, that planning a business is more than just ticking boxes, then check out our business plan template below.
Start your plan in three easy steps!
It can be hard to write a business plan from scratch. But there are tried and tested methods and structures for creating your plan, and once you know them it’s just a matter of looking at your business proposition honestly and gathering information about how you intend to run the business and make it a success.
There are three simple steps to set you on a solid path to completing your business plan:
1. Grab your free online business plan template (Google Docs)
Throughout history millions, probably billions of business plans have been written. And out of all of these plans a structure has emerged, one that investors, lenders and business people recognise as providing key information about a business in a methodical way. This is the format of a business proposal – a plan by any other name. In some examples the names of the sections change, or the emphasis is different to suit the nature of the business. The core of every business plan though, is this structure. You can get our free template with this structure, right here:
The end result of a business plan isn’t just a document, it’s a representation of your business. This is why it’s worth spending some time and effort to get it right.
If you are starting a new small business there’s even more reason to plan thoroughly. Small businesses need to carefully manage their finances, particularly their cash flow – as running out of ready cash is one of the biggest reasons small businesses are forced to close down. The financial side of business planning is doubly important if you don’t have a mountain of money to burn (though if you do happen to have a mountain of money, forecasting what’s going to happen to it would be a good idea too!)
2. Grab your free trial Brixx online cash flow forecasting account
In many business plans the finances are a page stapled on at the end. But this seems a mistake, as finances are the lifeblood of a business.
Your business deserves to be carefully planned, not just in terms of how you’re going to market and sell but in terms of sales projections and cash flow forecasts. Brixx is a financial forecasting app designed to help new businesses assess their financial futures, create professional charts and test business ideas.
You can start a free, no-obligation trial right here. Brixx aims to make financial planning accessible to all – building plans based on real business activities.
3. Grab our guide to your first business plan
For many people starting businesses, this may be your first ever business plan. To help out, we’ve written an in-depth guide to completing your business plan, and another for planning a cash flow forecast.
In fact, we’ve got a library of free resources to help entrepreneurs start their businesses. One topic that keeps coming up in our research is how difficult it can be to create realistic sales forecasts, so we created this beginner’s guide to sales forecasting. Sales forecasting tends to be where many business plans fall down, but with the right attitude (realistic, not blue sky thinking!) you can create a robust, meaningful sales forecast.
Start and Run Better Businesses (or “why you need a plan”)
Making a business plan may seem like a chore, but it’s actually really important for you, and for your business. Writing an extensive, factual but persuasive document takes more than just an idea and some napkin maths. But that doesn’t mean it has to be hard! Still, a lot of people still ask, “Do you need a business plan?”
I think a better question than “do you need a business plan?” is, “what do you need a business plan for?”
There are many reasons, but here are a few:
- Present to investors to acquire funding
- Present to stakeholders to get them to back your project
- Rigorously understand your own business
The purpose of your plan should inform how you build it – and how you present it. Before putting digital pen to digital paper, consider your audience – the kind of language they are familiar with and the information that they will want to see clearly displayed in your business plan.
Pulling it all together
By following this step-by-step approach, writing a business plan should be a lot easier than trying to come up with one from scratch. Whether you are a business owner already, or planning a new venture, it’s best to build on the experience of others. Not only is this quicker, it’s a great way to learn these skills for yourself.