Free Simple Business Plan Template
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Your business plan is the document that adds structure to your proposal and helps you focus your objectives on an achievable and realistic target. It should cover every aspect of what your business journey will look like, from licensing and revenue, to competitor and sector analysis.
Writing a business plan doesn't need to be a difficult process, but it should take at least a month to be done properly.
In today's capricious business climate there's a lot to consider, such as the impact of political challenges like Brexit. These details are especially important in today's bad economy. Investors are looking for entrepreneurs who are aware of the challenges ahead and how to properly plan for them.
Below, you'll find everything you need to create a concise, specific and authoritative business plan. So let's get started turning your idea into a reality!
Our below guide will give you detailed advice on how to write a quality business plan. But first, you need to know what to include – and that's where a high quality template can help.
We recommend creating an account with monday to use this template – doing so means you can start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot.
What to include in your business plan template
There's a lot of information online about how to write a business plan – making it a confusing task to work out what is and isn't good advice.
We're here to cut through the noise by telling you exactly what you need to include for a business plan that will satisfy stakeholders and help develop a key identity for your brand. By the end, you'll have a plan to make even Alan Sugar proud and can get started with the most exciting part – running your business.
Throughout this guide, we've featured an example business plan template for a new restaurant opening in Birmingham called ‘The Plew'. In each section, you'll be able to see what the contents we're describing would look like in a ‘real-life' document.
What to include in your business plan:
- Executive Summary
- Personal summary
- Business idea
- Your product or service
- Market analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Cash forecast
- Operations and logistics
- Backup plan
- Top tips for writing a business plan
- Business plan template UK FAQs
1. Executive summary
This section is a summary of your entire business plan. Because of this, it is a good idea to write it at the end of your plan, not the beginning.
Just as with the overall business plan, the executive summary should be clearly written and powerfully persuasive, yet it should balance sales talk with realism in order to be convincing. It should be no more than 1,000 words.
It should cover:
- Mission statement – what is your company's purpose?
- Business idea and opportunity – what unique selling point (USP) will you provide?
- Business model – how will your business operate?
- Business objectives – what are you aiming to achieve?
- Target market – who is your customer base?
- Management team – who are the owners/senior staff?
- Competition – who are you competing against?
- Financial summary – can you prove the business will be profitable?
- Marketing strategy – what is your marketing plan and associated costs?
- Timeline – how long will it take to launch/grow your new business?
It sounds like a lot – but don't feel you have to spend hours putting this together. Here's what the above information for an executive summary might look like when put into our example business plan template for ‘The Plew':
Startups' business plan template example: executive summary
2. Personal summary
Investors want to know who they're investing in, as much as what. This is where you tell people who you are, and why you're starting your business.
Outline your general contact details first, giving your telephone number, email address, website or portfolio, and any professional social media profiles you might have.
Run through this checklist to tell the reader more about yourself, and put your business ambitions into context.
- What skills/qualifications do you have?
- What are you passionate about?
- What is/are your area(s) of industry expertise?
- Why do you want to run your own business?
Here's what our two fictional co-founders of ‘The Plew' might write in their personal summaries for our example business plan. CEO Gabrielle Shelby, has highlighted her expertise in the restaurant industry, while CFO Freya Moore outlines her accounting and finance knowledge.
Startups' business plan template example: personal summary
Richard Osborne, founder and CEO of UK Business Forums, says personality is important in a business plan.
“Having a strong, personal reason at the heart of your business model will help keep you going and give you the motivation to carry on,” he affirms.
3. Business idea
This section is essentially to offer a general outline of what your business idea is, and why it brings something new to the market.
Here, you should include your general company details, such as your business name and a one-line summary of your business idea known as an elevator pitch. This section should also list a few key business objectives to show how you plan to scale over the next 1-3 years.
We also recommend carrying out a SWOT analysis to tell investors what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are for your business idea. Think about:
- Strengths: ie. why is this a good time to enter the sector?
- Weaknesses: ie. what market challenges might you encounter?
- Opportunities: ie. what demand is your product/service meeting in today's market?
- Threats: ie. how will the business be financed to maintain liquidity?
In the template below, you can see a breakdown of the above information for ‘The Plew'. At the top is its mission statement: “to craft an unforgettable dining experience in a chic atmosphere.”
Startups' business plan template example: business idea
Need a business idea? We've crunched the numbers and come up with a list of the best business ideas for startup success in 2023 based on today's most popular and growing industries.
4. Your products or services
Now it's time to explain what you are selling to customers and how will you produce your sales offering.
Use this section to answer all of the below questions and explain what you plan to sell and how. Just like your business idea outline, your answers should be concise and declarative.
- What product(s) or service(s) will you sell?
- Do you plan to offer new products or services in the future?
- How much does the product or service cost to produce/deliver?
- What is your pricing strategy ?
- What sales channels will you use?
- Are there legal requirements to start this business?
- What about insurance requirements?
- What is the growth potential for the product or service?
- What are the challenges? eg. if you're looking to sell abroad, acknowledge the potential delays caused by post-Brexit regulations.
What insurance and licensing requirements do you need to consider?
Depending on what your business offers, you might need to invest in insurance or licensing. Our How To Start guides have more details about sector-specific insurance or licensing.
Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, and Employers' Liability are the most well-known types of business insurance. We've listed some other common other licensing and insurance requirements below:
In our example product/service page for ‘The Plew”s business plan, the founders choose to separate this information into multiple pages. Below, they outline their cost and pricing, as well as sales strategy. But they also include an example menu, to offer something a bit more unique and tantalising to the reader:
Startups' business plan template example: product list and pricing strategy
5. Market analysis
This section demonstrates your understanding of the market you are entering, and any challenges you will likely face when trying to establish your company.
This section pulls all of your target market and customer research together to indicate to stakeholders that you are knowledgable about the sector and how to succeed in it.
- Who is your typical customer and where are they are based? Describe the profile of your expected customers eg. average age, location, budget, interests, etc.
- How many customers will your business reach? Outline the size of your market, and the share of the market that your business can reach.
- Have you sold any products/services to customers already? If yes, describe these sales. If no, have people expressed interest in buying your products or services?
- What have you learned about the market from desk-based research? What are the industry's current challenges, and how has it been affected by the economic downturn?
- What have you learned about the market from field research? (eg. feedback from market testing like customer questionnaires or focus group feedback).
What is your marketing strategy?
Once you've highlighted who your rivals are in the market, you can provide details on how you plan to stand out from them through your marketing strategy. Outline your business' USP, your current marketing strategy, and any associated advertising costs.
‘The Plew' identifies its target audience as young, adventurous people in their mid-30s. Because of the restaurant's premium service offering, its audience works in a well-paid sector like tech:
Startups' business plan template example: customer analysis
6. Competitor analysis
This section demonstrates how well you know the key players and rivals in the industry. It should show the research you have carried out in a table format.
Begin by listing the key information about your competitors. Don't worry about sounding too critical, or too positive. Try to prioritise accuracy above all else.
- Business size
- Product/service offering
- Sales channels
Competitors will take two forms, either direct or indirect. Direct competitors sell the same or similar products or services. Indirect competitors sell substitute or alternative products or services.
Here's a breakdown of the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and threats presented by a competitor restaurant for ‘The Plew' called Eateria 24. At the bottom, the founders have written what learnings they can take from the chart.
Startups' business plan template example: competitor analysis
Check out our list of the top competitor analysis templates to download free resources for your business, plus advice on what to include and how to get started.
7. Cash forecast
Outline your financial outlook including how much you expect to spend, and make, in your first year
All of your considered costs can be put into one easy-to-read document called a monthly cash forecast. Cash forecasts contain:
1. Incoming costs such as sales revenue, customer account fees, or funding.
2. Outgoing costs such as staff wages or operating expenses. The latter can cover everything from advertising costs to office supplies.
For those firms which have already started trading, include any previous year's accounts (up to three years) as well as details of any outstanding loans or assets.
Annual cash forecast: what is it?
By conducting 12 monthly cash forecasts, you can create an annual cash forecast to work out when your company will become profitable (also known as breakeven analysis) . You will break even when total incoming costs = total outgoing costs.
In your annual cost budget, make sure to also include month opening/closing balance. This is important to monitor for accounting, particularly for year-end.
- Opening balance = the amount of cash at the beginning of the month
- Closing balance = the amount of cash at the end of the month
The opening balance of any month will always be the same as the closing balance of the previous month. If you are repeatedly opening months with a negative closing balance, you need to adjust your spending. Here's an example of what ‘The Plew's financials might look like in its first year of operation:
Startups' business plan template example: cash forecast
8. Operations and logistics
Explain how your day-to-day business activities will be run, including key business partnerships around production and delivery.
List all of the behind the scenes information about how your business will operate. Include:
- Management team – who do you plan to hire as senior staff and why?
- Premises – where will you be based? What will be the cost?
- Materials – what materials/equipment will you need to make your product/service?
- Staffing – how many employees will you hire? How much will they cost?
- Insurance – what insurance do you need for production?
Detail how your customers will receive your product or service. Include:
- Distribution – how will you sell your product to customers?
- Transport – how will you transport the product/service to customers or partners?
- Insurance – what insurance do you need for delivery?
C.) Supplier analysis
Lastly, you should carry out a supplier analysis. Write down 2-3 suppliers you plan to use as part of your business operations and evaluate them on factors like location and pricing.
In our example business plan for ‘The Plew', the founders have chosen to present this information in an easily-digestible chart, breaking down the leadership and employees into two different areas: product development and operations.
Startups' business plan template example: staffing section
9. Backup plan
Explain how you will manage any surprise losses if your cash forecast does not go to plan.
In the event that your business does not go to plan, there will be costs to incur. A backup plan outlines to potential investors how you will pay back any outstanding loans or debt.
In the short-term:
If your cash-flow temporarily stalls, what steps could you take to quickly raise money or make savings? For example, by negotiating shorter payment terms with your customers.
In the long-term:
If you've noticed a drop in sales that seems to be persisting, what changes can you make that would improve cash flow longer term? For example, can you do more of your business online to reduce rent fees?
To placate investors even further, it's a good idea to include details about potential support channels you can utilise (eg. a business network or contact) who might be able to help if you get caught in a sticky cash-flow situation.
Startups' 5 top tips for writing a business plan
- Keep your predictions realistic. Your business plan should showcase your knowledge of the sector and what's achievable. It's not about impressing investors with big numbers or meaningless buzzwords.
- Don't go over 15 pages. Business plans should be engaging, which means sticking to the point and avoiding a lot of long-winded sentences. Keep your executive summary to less than 1,000 words, for example.
- End with supporting documents. Use your appendix to include product diagrams or detailed research findings if these are helpful to your business case.
- Get a second pair of eyes. Everyone misses a spelling error or two – invite a trusted business contact or associate to look over your business plan before you send it anywhere.
- Leave enough time to write! It's exciting to think about getting your business up and running – but planning is an important step that can't be rushed over. Spend at least a month on writing to get all the details correct and laid-out.
Now that you're up to speed on everything a business plan needs to include, we recommend using the free monday.com business plan template to jot down your ideas.
At Startups.co.uk, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have practical resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – use the tool below to get started today.
What Does Your Business Need Help With?
Designing a business plan is very important for laying the foundation of your business. Ensure you spend an appropriate amount of time filling it out, as it could save you many headaches further down the line.
Once your plan is complete, you'll then be ready to look at other aspects of business set-up, such as registering your company. Sound daunting? Don't worry!
Our experts have pulled together a simple, comprehensive guide on How to Start a Business in 2023, which will tell you everything you need to know to put your new plan into action.
- Can I write a business plan myself? Absolutely! There are plenty of resources available to help, but the truth is a business plan needs to reflect the owner's personal ambitions and passion - which is why entrepreneurs are best-placed to write their own.
- How long should a business plan be? We recommend your business plan is kept to a maximum of 15 pages. Keep it short and concise - your executive summary, for example, should be no more than 1,000 words.
- Is it OK to copy a business plan? While not technically illegal, copying a business plan will leave you in a poor position to attract investment. Customising your plan to your unique business idea and industry specialism is the best way to persuade stakeholders that you have a winning startup formula.
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Creating a business plan for your startup: step-by-step guide
You’ve had a great idea for a startup or new business. Now you need to make sure it all makes sense and create a document that shows how and why your business will succeed.
Every company is unique and this will be reflected in its business plan. The steps below can be tailored to your requirements but should ensure the key elements are all included.
Step 1. Set out your stall
You may be clear about what will make your new business great, but you need to be able to communicate that to investors, customers and other stakeholders. An effective business plan will often start with a clear statement about what the business will do, and what product or service it will sell.
Step 2. Set clear goals
Do you want to takeover the world or just a small corner of it? Is creativity, social impact or innovation more important than maximum profit? Decide on the business, financial and even personal goals you want to achieve in the short and medium term.
Step 3. Explain your product
Describe what your product or service will be, and what makes it unique or different. What are its limitations or downsides? How will you make, develop or source it?
Step 4. Introduce your customer and market
Who is your target customer and how big is your potential market? The better you understand the customer, the more likely you will create something they will buy. Market research is critical. Consider how you could test the market and assess demand with a Minimal Viable Product.
Step 5. Explain your sales and marketing approach
How will you make potential customers aware of your product or service? Marketing and advertising costs are often underestimated, especially in a crowded market with a lot of competition for customers. Will you have time to do the marketing yourself or will you need to hire staff or outsource tasks?
Step 6. Consider variable costs
These are the costs associated with the product or service itself, including manufacture, storage and delivery. For a digital business this could include development and testing.
Step 7. Estimate fixed costs
There will also be fixed costs that you will need to pay no matter how much you sell. These could include salaries and wages, National Insurance, tax, office costs, accountant’s fees, bad debts, interest payments and rates.
Step 8. Work out your pricing
Take the cost of the product or service away from the sales price and you have your gross profit. Subtract your overhead costs for the relevant time period and you’ll start to have an idea of how much you’ll need to sell to make a profit. There are various pricing models and you may need to experiment to find the right one for your business.
Step 9. Evaluate the competition
Identify other businesses that could compete for customers. Make a list of factors related to their product or service – everything from cost and service level to features and reputation. Assess your idea against the competition to spot risks and opportunities.
Step 10. Crunch the numbers
Financial calculations and forecasts are at the heart of a business plan. They could include capital requirements, profit and loss forecasts, cashflow forecasts, required assets and funding requirements. How much startup capital do you need and what runway will that give you before more investment or revenue is required?
Step 11. Decide on a legal structure and business organisation
Will you be a sole trader, limited company or set up a business partnership, perhaps with a co-founder? Do you need staff and will they be offered any equity? What access to advice and expertise do you have – and what will you need to pay for?
Step 12. Assess the risks
With so much disruption and uncertainty it has never been more important to assess the risks your business may face. Be honest about gaps in the founders’ knowledge or experience and look to fill them. Work out contingency plans and stress-test your assumptions.
Step 13. Iterate your approach
A business plan should be an evolving document that reflects what you are learning and the data and insight that is being collected. The sections may need to be adapted or added to, depending on the nature of the business, its sales model and type of funding.
Step 14. Talk to Barclays Eagle Labs
The Ecosystem Managers at Barclays Eagle Labs are used to working with founders and entrepreneurs at the start of their business journey. They can advise you on approaches, considerations and next steps. Find your nearest Eagle Lab here.
Step 15. Find a business plan template to suit your needs
There are numerous business plan templates online with some specifically tailored for startups. No two are the same, so it pays to search widely and borrow from multiple sources to create the business plan that best fits your circumstances and concept.
This Barclays Business Plan Generator is a great first step in clarifying your business idea.
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The information, statements and opinions contained in this content are of a general nature only and do not take into account your individual circumstances including any laws, policies, procedures or practices you, or your employer or businesses may have or be subject to. Although the statements of fact on this page have been obtained from and are based upon sources that Barclays believes to be reliable, Barclays does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness.
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Blog / Small business tips / 10 effective steps to start your business in the UK
10 effective steps to start your business in the UK
The UK is a booming market for start-ups, with approximately 753,168 new companies registered in the 2021 tax year.
But while registering is an important part of getting started, it’s no guarantee of success. Only 40% of businesses make it beyond the three-year mark. Why? Because starting a successful business requires resolute planning and preparation.
Before you launch, you need to build a strong foundation that details your idea and unique value proposition (UVP), how you will structure and market your business and how you will set up your business finances.
In this guide, we outline a detailed step-by-step process that teaches you how to start a business from scratch and set yourself up for the best possible chance of achieving immediate and long-term success.
Table of contents
- Test your start-up idea
- Create branding for your business
- Write a business plan
- Choose a structure for your business
- Educate yourself on business laws and regulations
- Work out costs and source funding
- Secure a licence or permit
- Decide where you will work
- Market your business
- Find the right business support
- Expert insights
1. test your start-up idea.
Your business idea should solve a problem for people, fill a gap in the market and provide long-term value.
To identify whether your idea is viable, start by running SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths , Weaknesses , Opportunities and Threats .
Try to answer the following questions about your business idea:
- Strengths. What makes your business better than the competition? Do you have a better product? Can you compete on price? Do you have greater expertise or industry experience?
- Weaknesses. What might hold you back? Are there things the competition does better? Do you lack in certain areas?
- Opportunities. Why is now the right time for your idea? What problems do consumers have that you can solve? Are there fewer competitors in this area? Are market trends shifting in your favour?
- Threats. What is your business likely to come up against? Are there emerging competitors? Is there a risk of the market changing? Could regulation changes cause problems?
You’ll likely know the answers to some of these questions already. Answers to others can be found by carrying out primary and secondary research.
Primary research involves testing your idea on potential customers by undertaking questionnaires, focus groups, interviews and product or service trials to understand:
- Who will buy your product or service
- How much people are willing to pay for your product or service
- What people think of your competitors
- What potential problems your business faces
Secondary research involves looking at existing data, such as:
- Government data
- Recent surveys and studies
- Newspaper reports
- Recent company data
For example, if your idea is to launch a project management software and you have tons of industry experience, your SWOT analysis may look like this:
- Strengths. Easy to understand, limited functions, does one or two things really well, making it better than the competition in those focused areas. Decades of industry experience meaning the expertise is most likely greater. The idea is to offer premium features for cheaper than our competitors charge for their premium plans.
- Weaknesses. There are already dozens of successful project management software platforms out there with huge followings. That’s why this product hones in on only a few features so that it’s better than the comprehensive offerings out there. But, this means our audience is more niche, which can be both good and bad.
- Opportunities. Big opportunity to grab an audience who craves aesthetically simpler, but functionally more complex, project management software. Many existing PM software customers complain that the products are too clunky and try to do too much, therefore failing at doing one thing really well. I believe the market trends are shifting in favour of products that help fill specific needs that broad products can’t truly solve.
- Threats. We’ll come up against tons of competition that’s constantly enhancing their products. There’s not a big risk of the market changing, but there is a risk that our big competitors could update their products to match our offerings. Still, our industry experience is most likely greater. Regulation won’t change or cause any problems.
Completing a comprehensive SWOT analysis will give you a clear picture of where you’re currently at and whether your idea is worth moving forward with.
Don’t be put off by the negative aspects of SWOT analysis. Instead, look at how your weaknesses can be turned into strengths and opportunities.
Top Tip: To learn more about why market research is valuable and the various types of market research you can do, read our guide on how to conduct market research for your business idea 🌟
2. Create branding for your business
You’ll know from your market research how competitors are presenting themselves. Use this knowledge to create a brand that stands out.
At this early stage in the process, you need to focus on the two key identifiers: your business name and logo. Other aspects of branding, such as a website and marketing collateral, can come further down the line.
Your business name and logo are the things that bring your idea to life. They’re also the first impression people have of your business, so it’s important to get them right.
Top Tip: To take a deep dive into all aspects of your branding, including how to pick your focus and personality, write your slogan and mission statement and choose the look of your brand, read our 7-step guide to building a brand that customers love 😍
Coming up with a business name
Your business name should be memorable and related to your product or service and values.
When scribbling down ideas, ask yourself:
- Does the company name create a positive first impression?
- Is it easy to read and say?
- Is it easy to understand?
- Is it offensive in any way, including in other languages?
- Is it memorable?
Even though business names are short, coming up with the right one is far from trivial. It requires a comprehensive effort and may take some time. Think of it as the foundation of a building—if you rush it, the final structure won’t be stable.
Your business name should be:
- Original . You want your business to stand out from the crowd. You can certainly glean inspiration from other companies, but avoid coming up with a name that sounds too similar to anything else. Not only will this help your brand thrive, but it will save you from potential copyright or trademark infringement issues down the line.
- Focused. Avoid putting tags like “Global” or “Enterprise” directly in your business name. Your customers want to know what makes you unique, niche and special and broad tags like that suggest a fully realised operation. You can always add to or change your name down the line, but for now, start small and stay relevant to your target audience. On the flip side, avoid using location-specific tags which could limit your growth potential.
- Energetic. Your name should embody your overall vibe. Choose a name that mirrors your industry’s energy levels. Going with the Product Management Software example from above, the industry energy may be viewed as “full of life”, “supportive”, “multi-faceted”, “driven” and “well rounded”. This is apparent in existing PM software tool names, such as Asana, which is a yoga term that represents a sitting meditation pose. And Trello, which was originally named Trellis, representing a tool that supports the growth of trees or plants. Both of those names represent well-grounded, supportive concepts and tie directly into what the product does.
- Simple. Think outside of the box, but make sure your name is easily understood and exudes professionalism. You don’t want to create something so out there that your customer base struggles to spell it or pronounce it. Strive for simple, memorable and catchy.
When you have a name in mind, make sure that it isn’t already taken by using our free company name checker 🔍
Consider what top-level domain (TLD) you want to use as TLDs serve various purposes. For example, .com is the most popular and gives you a better foundation for global growth, while .co.uk is strictly UK specific. You can also choose .io for tech sites and even something highly specific like .pizza for online pizza stores.
You might also want to run it through a domain registrar like GoDaddy or 123 Reg to check that it’s available for a website. If it’s available, snap it up before somebody else does.
Top Tip: To learn more about how to name your business, including the seven most common types of business names and tips on how to refine your list, read our guide on how to find the perfect name for your small business 💯
Creating a business logo
Like your business name, your logo should encompass the five principles of effective logo design and be memorable, simple, timeless, versatile and appropriate.
- Memorable: People should see your logo and instantly pair it with your brand, even if they’re not entirely sure what your brand does. Good examples of memorable logos are McDonald’s and the London Underground.
- Simple: A simple logo like Nike’s swoosh or Apple’s apple are instantly recognisable and distinctive because of their simplicity. Follow the KISS Principle of design: Keep It Simple Stupid.
- Timeless: Your logo should steer clear of trends. As designer David Airey says , “Leave trends to the fashion industry. Trends come and go, and when you’re talking about changing a pair of jeans or buying a new dress, that’s fine, but where your brand identity is concerned, longevity is key. Don’t follow the pack. Stand out.”
- Versatile: Your logo should work anywhere and everywhere—online and in print—in a range of different sizes.
- Appropriate: The design and colour of your logo should fit with your audience. For example, the LEGO logo works great for kids, but it wouldn’t give the right impression featured on the outside of a law firm’s office. Use a colour psychology chart to help find the appropriate colours for your logo.
If possible, it’s worth working with a designer on the creation of your logo. There are tons of sites where you can source freelance designers to build your brand assets.
The most popular sites are Fiverr , Dribbble , Upwork and LinkedIn Profinder , though there are many more to choose from. If you can’t find the right designer for the right price, sites such as LogoMakr and Canva are simple tools that let you design logos for free.
Any original artwork created by you is automatically copyright protected. However, to secure the rights to your brand name, logo and any slogan you’ve created, you should consider applying to register a trademark through GOV.UK .
3. Write a business plan
A business plan is a road map that outlines what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.
It serves two purposes:
- To help you focus on the path your business needs to take to achieve its goals
- To convince others that your business is a solid bet (this is important if you’re looking to position your business to gain investment ).
Your business plan should include the following key sections:
- Business summary . An overview of your business and what you plan to achieve
- Business idea. A brief description of what you plan to offer, why and who to, along with why your idea will be a success
- Marketing and sales strategy . Details on your customers, competitors, pricing, distribution and marketing tactics
- Management structure . Details on your professional credentials, those of your team and the people you plan to employ
- Business operations . Details on business location and premises, production and IT systems
- Financial projections . Details on cash flow forecasts , accounts and balance sheets. This section should cover key aspects of your financial plan, including income and revenue sources, amount of capital needed, how you plan to repay borrowings and what security you can offer lenders.
Your business plan doesn’t need to be incredibly long but it does need to be comprehensive. The appropriate length will be dictated by how much space you need to prove that you truly understand the market, your execution and financial plan/funding strategy.
It should also include both short- and long-term objectives so that potential stakeholders feel confident that your business will not only succeed in the short-term but thrive over time.
Always keep your business plan updated, adapting the facts and figures to match where you’re at on your business journey.
Top Tip: To learn more about what makes up a winning business plan and how to write one that will help you achieve your goals, read our complete guide to writing your company roadmap and business plan 📌
4. Choose a structure for your business
Registering your business means choosing a legal structure from one of the following options:
- Sole trader . A self-employed person who owns and runs their own business individually. Registration is free and you keep all of the business profits after tax. Sole trader is the most common business structure for people who work solo, like hairdressers, photographers and freelancers.
- Limited Company (LTD). A company with a legal identity separate from owners and directors. It limits personal liability as the company (rather than you) enters into contracts and acquires business debts. This means that money earned belongs to the company and must be withdrawn as a salary and/or dividends and you aren’t required to sell personal assets to pay off debt. Registration is more complicated than setting up as a sole trader and taxation is more in-depth. However, tax can be more efficient and there are greater opportunities for investment.
- Partnership . Similar to a sole trader setup but the partnership, as well as the individuals, must be registered for self-assessment . A partnership must dissolve if one partner leaves.
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) . Similar to a private limited company in terms of registration and accounting, but responsibility is shared between partners.
Each business structure comes with its own set of legal requirements and tax and accounting obligations, and there are pros and cons to each.We’ve covered each structure in-depth, along with the registration process, fees and tax requirements in our guide on how to register a business in the UK .
For your business to be official, you need to register with HMRC or an approved formation agent of Companies House, like we are. You can easily register your business with Tide for free and benefit from opening a separate business current account at the same time.
A business bank account is key because it separates your business and personal finances, an action that makes you look more professional and keeps your finances more organised. As a result, bookkeeping and tax preparation will be easier to manage.
5. Educate yourself on business laws and regulations
According to GOV.UK , 35% of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) cite red tape as a barrier to success.
But it doesn’t have to be.
While there is a lot of red tape to adhere to, the information you need to overcome these obstacles can all be found for free online.
GOV.UK’s business section contains detailed information on everything you need to know. Not all of it will be relevant to your business, but a lot of it will be.
For example, under the “Set up a business” section on the GOV.UK site, you learn that:
“There are also rules you must follow if you: sell goods online, buy goods from abroad or sell goods abroad, store or use personal information.”
Each point has a subsequent link where you can learn more. If we click on “sell goods online” we see a vast list of information that a seller must provide to a buyer before an order is placed. Understanding this information before you make a sale is crucial, not only to help you succeed but to avoid a fine or more serious punishment.
Some of the potential roadblock areas worth educating yourself on include:
- Business tax . Tax returns, tax compliance, accounting periods, VAT, Corporation tax and reporting changes to your business model.
- Debt and insolvency . Liquidating a company, County Court Judgements (CCJs), recovering debt, making claims and restoring a dissolved company.
- Employee expenses and benefits . PAYE, calculating tax, Capital Gains tax, employee loans and reporting expenses.
- Employment regulations . Wage regulations, health and safety regulations, disciplinary procedures, parental and compassionate leave, and holiday leave.
- Imports and exports . UK Trade Tariff, classifying imports and exports, shipping goods, duty relief, export agents and the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS).
- Copyright patents and trademarks . How to apply for a patent, defending your intellectual property (IP), using someone else’s IP, registering a trademark and licensing.
- Data protection . GDPR, responding to data protection requests and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Act.
- Waste and environmental impact . Environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes, dealing with commercial waste and vehicle fuel and emissions.
If you’re unsure about any of the red tape surrounding your business, you can get further advice from government associated resources across the UK and independent business advisors such as the UKBA .
6. Work out costs and source funding
You’ll cover the costs associated with starting and running your business in your business plan. However, it’s worth going a step further and breaking down these costs into categories to see exactly how much you’ll need to spend where.
Top Tip: To take a deeper dive into what business startup costs to expect, especially for your first year of business, read our guide on how much it costs to start a business in the UK 🚀
Initial costs and expenses to take into account include:
- Premises and business rates
- Licenses and insurance
- Marketing materials
- Legal and financial advice
- Tax and National Insurance
There are many ways to fund your small business to help cover startup costs and maximise initial growth, including:
- Bank loan . Business loans from high street banks aren’t as easy to come by as they once were, but several of the major banks do offer unsecured loans of up to £250,000, over 1 to 15 years.
- Start Up Loan . The government-backed Start Up Loan is an unsecured personal loan of £500 to £250,000, with a fixed interest rate of 6% per year. The loan can be repaid over 1 to 5 years and there is no application fee or early repayment fee. If your application is successful, you’ll also get up to 12 months of free mentoring.
- Start-up grant . There are several government- and EU-backed initiatives offering business grants including British Small Business Grants , InnovateUK and Horizon Europe . Grants are issued on a case-by-case basis and there’s no guarantee you’ll be eligible or get the full amount you need. But if you are successful, money doesn’t have to be paid back. Like the Start Up Loan, grants often come with business support.
- Angel investment . Angel investors are investors who give new business owners capital in exchange for equity. They tend to be successful entrepreneurs who can lend their experience to help you get ahead in the market. However, their investment means they become a stakeholder and you’ll need to hand over some control to them. The UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) is the best place to find information on angel investors and investments.
- Crowdfunding . Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way of financing a new business. Around 4.41bn USD is raised globally from equity-based crowdfunding every year and by 2028, the global market is predicted to be worth 28.9bn USD. It involves a large number of people pooling small amounts of capital to finance a business venture. If you’re launching an innovative new product, platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are designed to help you capture public attention and secure investment. But there’s the traditional way of crowdfunding too—asking friends and family to invest in return for equity or a reward. The best part is, you don’t have to give up any of your equity, though you do still have to deliver rewards to your backers. As a word of caution, protect your business idea with a patent, copyright or trademark in case somebody tries to steal or copy it.
Top Tip: One of the best ways to widen your business funding options is to improve your credit score. Register your business, open a Tide bank account, then grow your credit worthiness with Tide’s Credit Builder 🌟
7. Secure a licence or permit
To operate legally in the UK, you may need to obtain a licence or permit. This will certainly be the case if your business falls under any of the following categories:
- Alcohol or tobacco retail
- Food preparation
- Food retail
- Sports coaching
- Import and export
- Waste management
The first step is to find out what kind of licence you need. You can do this using GOV.UK’s Licence Finder . This tool will also help you find the correct point of contact within your local authority.
The cost of your licence will depend on the type you’re applying for and any additional fees. For example, a licence to sell alcohol is subject to an application fee based on the rateable value of your premises. The rateable value of your premises is decided by the Valuation Office Agency and is based on your annual market rent, size and usage.
You may also need to show an accredited qualification to be granted a licence or permit. For example, an alcohol licensing qualification is required to sell alcohol in the UK.
8. Decide where you will work
Business premises are a big expense, so think about starting out by working from home if at all possible. This can help you save on commercial rent and business rates, and is an especially easy option if you’re starting a digital business like graphic design or freelance writing.. You’ll also be able to include a percentage of household costs such as electricity, heating, lighting, broadband and council tax on your tax return.
Top Tip: Preparing for and filing taxes accurately is a big part of starting your own business. To learn more about how to ensure you’re doing everything above the board, read our complete guide to small business tax ✅
If you plan on using your property to advertise your business or are selling goods from home, you should contact your mortgage provider or landlord and local council to seek permission first.
If you can’t work from home, you may be able to keep costs down by using a co-workspace or shared business hub. This involves renting a desk or small office space within a larger building at a reasonable price. Many local authorities offer dedicated low-cost space for start-up businesses, with low fees and short-term contracts.
Visit your local council’s website to see where space is available. Or, search a coworking marketplace like Coworker.com to find a coworking space near you.
Choosing commercial premises
If you need to rent a commercial property, there are a few things to consider:
- Cost . How will rent, business rates and utility bills impact your costs?
- Location . Is the premises easy to get to for customers and employees?
- Flexibility . Can the property grow with your business?
- Terms . Does the lease fit in with your plans? Are short-term and long-term leases offered? Is there an option to extend your lease? Can you bring your lease to an early end if you need to?
- Repairs . Is property maintenance the landlord’s responsibility or yours?
Your company location can affect productivity and help attract your ideal customers and employees. It’s worthwhile to do the research necessary to ensure you rent the best commercial property for your business.
Insuring your business
To ensure a safe and covered working environment, you’ll need business insurance. The type of insurance policy you’ll need depends on your business operations, but it’s likely you’ll require one or more of the following:
- Contents insurance . Covering all stock and materials in the event of damage, theft, fire or natural disaster. This is required even if you work from home and have home contents insurance.
- Commercial property insurance . Covering your business premises in the event of damage, theft, fire or natural disaster.
- Professional indemnity insurance . Protecting you from claims made by unhappy clients. For example, if a client pays you for a service and they’re not happy with that service, they can be reimbursed through your insurance, rather than out of your own pocket.
- Public liability insurance . Protecting you against claims from members of the public who have been injured or suffered property damage due to carelessness.
- Employers’ liability insurance . The same as public liability insurance, but for employees.
- Vehicle insurance . Covering any vehicles used for business purposes.
9. Market your business
Everything to this point has involved putting the foundations in place to set yourself up for the highest chance of success. Now, it’s time to get your brand out there and draw customers to you.
If you already have a following from generating pre-launch content, that’s great. It’s always a good idea to validate your UVP before you spend a dime on building or servicing it. That way, you know your target audience is interested in what you have to offer and will buy it once you launch.
If you don’t have a following yet, that’s perfectly OK. Now is the time to build one.
There are all kinds of different ways to market your business: telling friends and family, attending networking events, advertising your product or service in the local press and/or online, and many more. The most likely place to see consistent results is through digital marketing. This is where marketing leaders will spend 56% of their total marketing budget in 2022.
Get a website
Whether you’re starting an online business or a traditional brick-and-mortar company, a website is a must. Even if they plan to buy in-store, 65% of shoppers begin product searches on digital marketplaces and search engines. Additionally, 60% of global shoppers say they prefer to shop with a retailer that has both a digital and physical presence. Your website is your online shopfront and the place to send customers to find out more about you and your products or services.
A website doesn’t have to be big or flashy, but it does have to make a good first impression and provide visitors with the information they seek.
It takes just 50 milliseconds for a user to form an opinion about your website, so a clean, fast-loading site is important. Especially as, according to a report by Top Design Firms, 42% of people say they’ll leave a website due to poor functionality.
There are eight guidelines that every website should follow:
- Simplicity . A website should make it easy for users to find and do what they want to do.
- Visual hierarchy . Website elements should be organised so that visitors see your most important messages first.
- Navigability . Moving from point A to point B should be pain-free.
- Consistency . The overall look of a website should be consistent across all pages.
- Accessibility . A website should work seamlessly on all devices and operating systems.
- Conventionality . The design should stick to what users are familiar with (e.g. navigation at the top or left side of the page, logo in the top left or centre of a page).
- Credibility . Information should be upfront and transparent.
- User-centricity . Feedback should be gathered from users to tweak and improve performance.
If you can, it’s a good idea to work with a web designer to create a website that meets these guidelines. There are plenty of freelance sites where you can find and hire developers to help build your site.
Sites like Toptal , Hired , and Flexiple are all developer-specific freelance sites. Alternatively, hire a family member or friend who has developer experience and is willing to help you out.
If you struggle to find a budget-friendly developer, platforms such as WordPress , Squarespace and Wix let you use templates to build user-friendly websites from scratch without design experience and without breaking the bank.
Develop a digital marketing strategy
A digital marketing strategy is a plan designed to win customers by taking into account business objectives, SWOT analysis, target audience and brand position.
This plan can then be used across the five main marketing channels— social media marketing , content marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), paid media and email marketing—to take customers on a journey from noticing your brand to purchasing to recommending you to others.
Top Tip: To learn all about how to attract your target audience and boost engagement with your brand, read our guide on how to create a complete digital marketing strategy for small businesses 🔥
To help you get new customers and build your business without spending a penny, we’ve also developed a free small business guide to marketing on a budget .
10. Find the right business support
While running a business is exhilarating, the day-to-day can certainly be taxing. According to a small business survey carried out by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy , 34% of business owners say they sought out advice and information related to the daily running of the business. And 40% of business owners sought strategic advice to help with growth.
Getting the right help can be vital in overcoming challenges and avoiding potentially costly mistakes. Fortunately, professional advice and business support are plentiful and, in most cases, free.
- Our small business tips resource contains a wealth of information on how to grow a successful business, covering everything from finance to HR to mental health.
- GOV.UK has a Business Support Helpline providing free advice. Its website also gives details on government-backed schemes across the UK.
- Business Gateway is a publicly funded service providing free support to business owners in Scotland. Business Wales and Invest Northern Ireland provide similar services for businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Across England, there are 38 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) led local Growth Hubs offering business support and guidance.
- The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) offers not-for-profit small business advice, financial expertise and support to all small business owners.
- Mentorsme puts business owners in touch with free and paid mentors who can help you grow by sharing their expertise, experience and contacts. And their influence can be huge. According to a study by Kabbage , 92% of small business owners say mentors have a major impact on growth.
If you’ve never handled business accounts before, you might also want to call on the services of an accountant.
An accountant can help with everything from tax returns to penalties to ensure you’re compliant with HMRC and Companies House.
Top Tip: To help you find an accountant that meets your needs, check out our post on how to choose an accountant for your small business 📌
💡 Expert insights
Insights author: Vicks Rodwell is Head of Partnerships of IPSE , the UK’s only not-for-profit community dedicated to the self-employed.
IPSE’s mission is to empower, protect and connect its members for success. Their community of self-employed professionals benefit from financial and wellbeing products, diverse discounts, topical content and governmental lobbying. All packaged with the aim of helping their members thrive.
IPSE also supports those at the early stages of their self-employed career through their Incubator . Structured to help you build strong foundations and excel at what you do. The varied content focuses on the core principles of sales, marketing, finance, and wellbeing.
What are your 3 top tips for preparing to start your own business?
1. Getting into the right mindset from day one is paramount to the success of any self-employed worker. Even though you’re working by yourself, you should still think about your new career path as a business, rather than viewing it as a hobby or a side hustle. You don’t have to have it all worked out before you start, sometimes you just need to get going and improve as you go, but by setting solid foundations and acting and thinking like a business you will start building your reputation and attracting potential clients.
2. Really think about what you’re going to offer, if it’s the same or similar to a lot of other products/services then you need to think about how you’re going to present yourself so that people will choose to work with you. Do you have a unique selling point? Can you articulate what it is that means people should pick you? And what makes you better than anyone else?
3. Do a cash flow projection, look at what your outgoings are so you know the minimum amount of money you need in your bank account each month. Then you can start to understand how much work you need each month to ensure your business is sustainable. You’ll probably need some savings before you start as you may not be able to produce a profit in the first few months. You may also want to work out a point at which you need to take some part-time work to help with cashflow.
Top Tip: Once you’re up and running, you can connect your business bank account to the Tide platform and automate business forecasting. Keep your cash flow healthy with Tide’s Cashflow Insights ⚡️
Let’s recap the steps you need to take to build a successful business from scratch:
- Business idea: Spend time analysing your idea to ensure it’s viable
- Branding: Come up with a name and logo that are memorable, appropriate and timeless
- Business plan: Create a detailed plan that covers your idea, finances and structure
- Structure: Choose a legal structure that suits your business set-up
- Red tape: Learn about the laws and regulations that are relevant to your business
- Funding: Calculate your start-up costs and decide whether you need a loan or investment
- Licence or permit: Find out if you require a licence or permit to operate
- Location: Decide on the best place to work for your business and its customers or clients
- Marketing: Get a website and create a digital marketing strategy to market your business online
- Support: Find advice and mentorship to help your business grow
Starting a business from scratch requires you to be methodical in your approach. With each step in this post, we’ve posed questions and provided links to additional resources. Take your time to study them. Do your research and use the support available to guide you on your journey.
Ready to get started? Register your business with Tide for FREE Registering your business with Tide is incredibly fast, easy and free. We’ll pay the £12 incorporation fee on your behalf. What’s more, you’ll get a free business current account at the same time, which is the best way to ensure you’re keeping your finances in order from day one. Be your own boss and start your company today 🚀
Read more from our business startup series :
1.1 How to start a business in the UK: 10 steps to build from scratch 1.2 How to find the perfect name for your small business 1.3 How to register a business? A simple guide 1.4 How to start a business without capital 1.5 10 ways to fund your business 1.6 How to create a business plan: 9 things to consider when starting
2.1 15 business ideas you can get started with today 2.2 How to start a business online
3.1 How much does it cost to start a business in the UK? 3.2 How to raise capital for your business: Everything you need to know
4.1 How to make your first year in business a success 4.2 How to combat loneliness when becoming a solo-founder 4.3 How to employ someone: hiring your first employees
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com, published on Unsplash
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HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES SUCCEED
What do you need to know about starting a business?
- Start up business ideas
- Set up a business
- Skills and wellbeing
- Business planning
- Financing a business
- Tax and National Insurance
- Business law
- Sales and marketing
- Business premises
- Business IT
- Grow your business
- Types of business
- Testing business ideas
- Product development
- Is running a business really for you?
- Start up stories
- Registering as a sole trader
- Setting up a limited company
- Business names
- Buy a franchise
- Buying a business
- Starting an online business
- Setting up a social enterprise
- Small business support
Protect your wellbeing from the pressures of starting and running a business and develop key business skills.
- Dealing with stress
- Manage your time
Write a business plan
- Business strategy
- Start up costs
- Start up funding
- Setting prices
- How to work out tax and NI
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Licences and registration
- Protecting intellectual property
- Insurance for business
- Workplace health, safety and environmental rules
- Looking after your customers
- Promote your business
- Your marketing strategy
- Sales techniques
- Research your market
- Creating and optimising a website
- Commercial premises
- Premises security
- People management
- Recruitment, contracts, discipline and grievance
- Employment rights
- Hiring employees
- Buying IT for your new business
- Basic IT security
- Preparing for business growth
- How to scale up your business
- Funding business growth
- Start exporting
- Personal development
A well-researched and written business plan is an essential tool. Discover how to structure and write a business plan and what information to include.
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Q&A: Business plan basics
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How to Write a Business Plan in 8 Simple Steps
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A business plan is a written document that describes your business, usually covering strategies, objectives, marketing, sales and financial forecasts. More than that, it can be a way to provide a clear roadmap designed to take your business from where it is today to where you want it to be in the future.
But if you haven’t created one before, it can be hard to know where to start. That is why we have put together a guide on how to write a business plan, including the elements you might want to include, and the different small business plan formats you may want to consider.
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8 step business plan checklist
When writing a business plan, there are several factors to pay particular attention to.
- Have you included an executive summary detailing your mission statement?
- Are you clear on both your competitive advantages AND the key risks facing your business?
- Do you have a detailed organisational chart showing the structure of your business personnel?
- Are you on top of trends in your industry, and how your business can stand out?
- Have you explained how you will attract and retain your customer base?
- Are you explicit about how your product or service will benefit its intended audience?
- Do you know how much funding you need, and in what form?
- Have you included your latest financial projections?
This list is not necessarily exhaustive, but highlights some key things to pay attention to as you create your business plan.
Why should I write a business plan?
There are a range of reasons why you might consider writing a business plan, from clarifying your intentions to securing a business loan.
Clarify your business idea
By writing a business plan you can hone and sharpen your initial business idea, making it a stronger, more detailed proposition.
It will give you a top level overview of what you need to do and, importantly, how much money you need to do it.
Set out your goals
Going through the process of creating a business plan will help you set out tangible goals for different stages of your growth.
Where you want to be after year one will differ from what you want to have achieved by year five, and writing a plan will encourage you to engage with your targets on both a short- and long-term basis.
Spot potential problems
A business plan isn’t only about sharpening your idea and setting your goals. If done properly, it can help you spot potential problems that you may not have previously considered, or that were not obvious until you’d done the research a business plan requires.
Measure your progress
A business plan is only the beginning. Once it is in place, you will have a set of targets to measure your progress against.
These targets can act as points of reference to evaluate the various stages of your organisation’s development.
A business plan will be essential if you’re looking to secure a business loan or other form of credit from a bank. Potential investors will also want to see one before they consider partnering with you.
It can also help convince suppliers, customers and employees to support you in your endeavour.
How to write a traditional business plan
A traditional business plan is comprehensive and detail-oriented. For these reasons, it is the format most commonly requested by lenders and investors.
Let’s go through the sections you would expect to see in a traditional business plan – but remember, you don’t need to stick to an exact outline. Instead, use the sections that make the most sense to your business and its needs.
Step 1: Draft your executive summary
Outline briefly what your company is and why it will be a success. Include your mission statement, your product or service and basic information about your location, workforce and leadership team. And if you’re seeking funding, lay out your high-level growth plan and financial information.
Step 2: Write your company description
In this section, you can elaborate on the points laid out in your executive summary. Explain the problems your product or service solves, and list the specific organisations, businesses and consumers your company intends to serve.
Furthermore, lay out the competitive advantages that will help your business prosper. Perhaps you have industry experts on your team or have sourced the perfect location for your store.
There is no need to hold back on your company’s strengths.
Don’t be afraid to mention key risks to the business. Any lender or investor will likely identify them for themselves and will be reassured by the fact that you have identified them and have plans in place to protect the business.
Step 3: Detail your management and organisation structure
Who will be running your business? How will it be structured legally? Will it be a limited company, limited liability partnership, or partnership, or will you work as a sole trader ?
An organisational chart may help illustrate who will be in charge of what, and take the opportunity to describe how their credentials will contribute to your venture’s prosperity. You may even wish to include the CVs of key players.
Step 4: Carry out and explain your market analysis
You’ll need a solid understanding of both your target market and your industry outlook. Competitive research will shed light on trends and themes, as well as what other businesses are doing well, and how you could do it better.
Step 5: Define your marketing and sales strategy
There is no single way to approach your marketing strategy because it should evolve and adapt to your business’s individual needs as they arise. The goal in this section is to lay out how you will attract, and retain, a customer base. You’ll also need to describe how sales will actually happen.
You’ll likely need to refer to this section of your business plan later when you lay out your financial projections, so make sure your marketing and sales strategies are described in thorough detail.
» MORE: How to promote your small business online
Step 6: Describe your service or product line
Describe what you’re selling or what service you’re offering, as well as how it will benefit customers and what its life cycle will look like. If you have plans for intellectual property, such as patent filings or copyright, make sure that you share them. And if you’re conducting research and development for your product or service, explain it in detail.
Step 7: Detail your funding request
If you’re looking for funding as part of your small business plan, you’ll need to outline your requirements, preferably with a five-year projection and your future strategic financial plans, such as selling the business or paying off debt.
You’ll need to specify whether you require equity or debt, the terms you wish to be applied and the length of time your request will cover. Describe what your funds will go towards, such as paying salaries, purchasing materials and equipment or covering bills, until such time as revenue increases.
Step 8: Compile your financial projections
It’s a good idea to supplement your funding request with financial projections in order to convince readers that your business will be stable and successful.
If your business is already established, then include balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements, preferably from at least the last three years, if not the last five. Be sure to list any other collateral you could secure against when applying for a business loan.
Provide a prospective financial outlook for the next five years, including forecast income statements, capital expenditure budgets and cash flow statements. For the first year, be even more specific, and break it down to quarterly, or even monthly, projections. Explain these clearly, and ensure they match your funding requests.
Your appendix can be filled with supporting documents and any other materials that have been specially requested. Items commonly added to the appendix include:
- product pictures
- credit histories
- letters of reference
- legal documents
How to write a lean start up business plan
This less traditional business plan format has a solely high-level focus. It is quick to write and contains only key elements. For these reasons, you may prefer a lean start-up business plan if you wish to explain or start your business in a short timeframe, or if your business is relatively simple.
It may also be a good format to use if you envisage regular change for your business or your business plan being regularly redefined.
These kinds of business plans are most applicable where you are building a business based on a new concept or product and people can understand that it is impossible to project exactly how it will develop at a more granular level of detail. However, many lenders will not consider such a high- level plan sufficient for the approval of a loan.
A lean start-up business plan is a useful summary of your infrastructure, value proposition, finances and customer base. As with the traditional business plan, it has commonly used elements, but they are not essential; you should mould your plan to your business’s particular needs.
You need to make a concise and compelling statement regarding the unique value that your company will deliver to customers, including the products and services you’ll be offering.will bring to the market.
Make note of the other companies you’ll work alongside in bringing your business to fruition, be they suppliers, manufacturers, sub-contractors or other strategic partners.
List the main ways your business will gain a competitive advantage in the market, from customer relations to revenue streams. highlighting It will highlight such factors as selling direct to consumers or leveraging tech to tap into the sharing economy.
List any resource you’ll use to maximum advantage in creating value for your customers. Your key assets may include capital, staff and intellectual property.
Specify your target market and remember: your business won’t be for everyone. Who are your most important customers? Enter into your small business plan with a clear sense of who you will actually serve.
Lay out how your customer base will interact with your business. Will it be automated, face -to -face or online? How will you grow your customer base and retain customers? Consider the customer experience from start to finish. Explain how you will find customers and retain them.
Will your company focus more on maximising value or reducing cost? Define your strategy, then list the key resources and most significant costs you’ll face.
Marketing and communication channels
How do you intend to talk to and communicate with your customers? How do your competitors communicate with their customers? And what are the most cost-efficient ways to do this? Most businesses make the most of a combination of marketing channels and optimise them over time.
How will your company make money? What are your customers willing to pay for the value you’ll add? Will it be through direct sales, advertising space or membership fees? If you envisage multiple revenue streams, be sure to list them all.
» MORE: How to create a small business budget
Tips for writing a business plan
When writing your business plan, it is worth keeping the following tips in mind to ensure you get the most out of the process.
- Have a clear goal: since there are many reasons why you might be writing a business plan, it is best to know exactly what you hope to get out of it before starting, as it will inform how you go about creating your document. For example, your aim may be to get funding or to convince potential hires to join.
- Know your audience: just as there are different reasons why you might write a business plan, there are different audiences who will be reading it. By keeping a target audience in mind from the beginning, you can tailor your plan towards the right people.
- Do your research: this cannot be overstated. The more research you do, the more detailed your plan can be, creating a stronger foundation for your business to launch from.
- Keep things concise and consistent: while it is important to do your research, you don’t want to swamp your reader in unnecessary detail. Make sure your plan is to the point and consistent in tone throughout.
- Check your spelling and grammar: it sounds basic, but poor grammar and spelling may undermine your business plan in the eyes of potential investors and partners. So make sure to give it a thorough read through – you may even want to consider hiring an editor or proofreader to review your plan.
Get your small business off to a great start
A well-written small business plan can be critical in helping secure funding and bring on new business partners. Remember, investors need to feel confident that they will see returns. Your business plan is the perfect tool to convince people to work with you, so put in the time, research and effort that your business deserves.
Not only will a plan help you be taken more seriously if you’re starting a business with little funding, but it will also help you understand every element of your business, better preparing you for the market.
Image source: Getty Images
About the Authors
Nic Redfern is Finance Director at NerdWallet and an accomplished business and finance strategist with over 26 years' experience. Nic has been instrumental in the growth of several regional and…
Connor is a lead writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and…
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Small Business UK
Advice and Ideas for UK Small Businesses and SMEs
Example business plans
Put together your business plan with our tips.
Where can I find an example of a business plan?
If you’re preparing to write your first business plan and are looking for some useful resources and advice on what elements to include you have come to the right page.
It is essential to have a realistic, working business plan when you’re starting up a business. We have our own section devoted to business planning where there are lots of articles and links to information on writing business plans . The content can show you how to prepare a high quality plan using a number of easy-to-follow steps but also contains more specialist information to help you really fine tune your document, plus advice on presentation and targeting.
If you are specifically looking for advice as a franchisee, check out our article on the 11 things you need to include in a franchise business plan .
There are a range of other sources you may also want to use. An often overlooked source is your Bank who may well have information, examples and templates of business plans:
- Barclays template and checklist [pdf]
- Lloyds sample plan [downloadable pdf – see section 4]
The Prince’s Trust offers downloadble pdf, MS Word and Excel templates . They also offer personal advice on completing a plan through their Enterprise programme if you are selected to work with them.
Slideshare has lots of business plans uploaded, which you can browse through here . We liked this thorough 26 page example from The Business Plan Team , as well as a template created by former Deloitte Management Consultants here , and a good example of a colourful, visual plan suitable for a trendy food business here .
An interesting interactive free business plan creator is offered by LawDepot . On the website you are stepped through 7 simple steps using a well-designed graphic interface, and at the end you can output the subsequent plan ready to fill in. There are 12 industries to choose from and it has sections for company structure, product, marketing, SWOT, operations and ‘Fine Details’.
Other Web Resources: Business Plan Templates
You can find examples of business plans for different types of businesses at:
- ACCA – the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants have 3 example business plans for three different business sectors: Cafe, Import Business, UK Ltd business seeking finance.
- Bplans – owned and operated by Palo Alto Software Inc., the site has free plans to download and it also has examples for lots of different types of individual or specific market sectors.
- Expert Hub – based in South Africa, this site has 21 example business plans for different categories.
- Start Up Loans – offer a downloadable .docx template.
- Invest Northern Ireland – have a .doc business plan template to download here
- StartUps.com – have four sample plans that you can access from Google Drive (note, this is a USA site so the examples are US-based, although the formats could still work for a UK business).
- Examples.com – 20+ example downloadable .pdf plans for different sectors.
Finally, how about a video on the subject? Quite a few examples on Youtube.
How about this one from Craig Frazier?
Further reading on business plans:
- Advice and the basic tips of writing a business plan
- A check list of what should be in your business plan
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- Business Plan for Investors
- Bank/SBA Business Plan
- Strategic/Operational Business Plan
- L1 Visa Business Plan
- E1 Treaty Trader Visa Business Plan
- E2 Treaty Investor Visa Business Plan
- EB-1 Business Plan
- EB-2 NIW Business Plan
- EB-5 Business Plan
- Innovator Founder Visa Business Plan
- Start-Up Visa Business Plan
- Expansion Worker Visa Business Plan
- Manitoba MPNP Visa Business Plan
- Nova Scotia NSNP Visa Business Plan
- British Columbia BC PNP Visa Business Plan
- Self-Employed Visa Business Plan
- OINP Entrepreneur Stream Business Plan
- LMIA Owner Operator Business Plan
- ICT Work Permit Business Plan
- LMIA Mobility Program – C11 Entrepreneur Business Plan
- USMCA (ex-NAFTA) Business Plan
- Franchise Business Plan
- Landlord business plan
- Nonprofit Start-Up Business Plan
- USDA Business Plan
- Cannabis business plan
- Ecommerce business plan
- Online boutique business plan
- Mobile application business plan
- Daycare business plan
- Restaurant business plan
- Food delivery business plan
- Real estate business plan
- Business Continuity Plan
- Buy Side Due Diligence Services
- ICO whitepaper
- ICO consulting services
- Confidential Information Memorandum
- Private Placement Memorandum
- Feasibility study
How it works
- Business Plan Examples
- UK Start-Up Visa Business Plan
Get your UK Start-up Visa Business Plan that is fully compliant with requirements of the endorsement body
We have a 95% success rate.
Your UK Start-up Visa Business Plan will be fully compliant with the endorsement body’s requirements. We monitor their guidelines carefully. This is the reason we can boast a nearly perfect success rate of 95%. If the endorsement body asks for revisions, we will provide them free of charge.
We prepare each OGS business plan from scratch. Each plan has unique graphics, and each features beautiful and modern design. Your tailored solution will highlight your business’s best features and provide the kind of structured outline that the endorsement body needs to see before they approve your visa.
Our team of experienced business plan writers have prepared 5,000+ business plans covering 42 industries and various locations across the UK. Our unique level of expertise allows us to provide first-rate and industry-specific business plans to satisfy needs of the endorsement bodies.
The OGScapital team includes a group of immigration-focused consultants who have spent the last 15 years focused exclusively on immigration. We create 120-150 Start-Up Visa business plans every year, and, with a 95% success rate, we can stand behind our work.
OGScapital will draw upon their wide-ranging knowledge of industry-specific best practices when preparing your Start-up Visa Business Plan. The result will be a reliable business development road map that will guide you towards your business goals, helping make your company a success.
Our thorough and sophisticated business plan will get you the UK Start-Up Visa you need.
UK Start-Up Visa Business Plan:
- Users : Start-up Visa applicants and immigration lawyers
Document size : 35-45 pages
Timeframe : 10-12 days
- Graphic design: included
Assigned team : 2 senior consultants, including a project lead
Unlimited revision period : 3 weeks
Rush Delivery Service: Available
- Executive Summary
- Competitive Analysis
- Description of The Business Model
- Business/Operating Strategy
- 5 Forces Analysis and SWOT Analysis
- Financial Model
- Use of Proceeds
- Industry Analysis
- Market Forecast
- Marketing Strategy and Mix
- Management Team
All Self-Employed Visa Business Plans are prepared using our extremely user-friendly and eye-catching format. Review the sample and you’ll see what kind of quality you can expect from OGScapital.
- A UK higher education institution
- A business with a history of supporting entrepreneurs in the UK
The invesment amount is not specified.
Our fee is highly competitive. Talk to one of our experts about cost, as our prices change depending on task complexity.
Business plans vary depending on your needs, but all documents include a number of key sections: market analysis, business model description, operational strategy, goals, financial model, etc.
This is highly unlikely (our success rate, after all, is 95%). If it does happen, though, we will happily make the necessary amendments without additional charge.
No, applicants are no longer able to apply for a Tier 1 visa, but it is possible to extend a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.
UK Start-up Visa Business Plan
OGSCapital will provide you with a complete business plan for start up visa uk for a reasonable fee.
Special Offer for Legal Attorneys, Solicitors!
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OGScapital will help you build a tailored business plan that will be a perfect fityou’re your needs.
Your UK Start-Up Visa Business Plan is just 4 steps away:
Fill in the contact form online
We will do the research and, within 10-12 days, we will draft a business plan
Once we’ve submitted the business plan to our law team for review, we will issue the final version of your UK StartUp Visa Business Plan.
Payment methods : wire transfer and debit/credit card
OGScapital was founded in 2006 by a group of 8 partners. Our immigration business plan writers have all worked closely with Home Office, and they are fully aware of the current requirements and are among the first to know when these requirements change. Thanks to our expertise and our multi-industry experience, we are proud to say that we are the #1 business plan company with a focus on immigration business plans. We serve 150 UK Startup visa clients every year, and our 95% success rate speaks to the quality of our team and our work.
OGScapital has been serving customers since 2006
We have a 95% success rate with our Start-up Visa applications.
Our team members have prepared presentations covering 42+ industries.
We create upwards of 150 Start-up Visa business plans annually.
Our team includes 60 consultants
OGScapital regularly cooperates with 45 law firms and solicitors
We take clients satisfaction extremely seriously, trying to exceed all of our clients’ expectations.
OGScapital has a 9.5/10 Trustpilot score
Clear and detailed
Alex provided us a detailed report on a business we were thinking of buying. The report was very clear and detailed, and he was available to answer any questions. We highly recommend his service
I highlyI am very satisfied with the service recommend them
I highly recommend them, they were in charge of creating my company's Business Plan, the delivery was faster than the established deadline, the work they did was excellent and the presentation of the document was very good, not to mention that the communication and feedback is constant, friendly and fast, I was really very satisfied with all the service they provided me.
My experience with Alex and his team has been excellent! Alex always responds to my emails and texts very quickly and is always accommodating. I look forward to creating a long-term relationship with him and his team. I highly recommend him.
Alex delivered my high-tech VC fund business plan in quality and on time. Strongly recommendation.
Very good service and deliverables. Alex was timely and professional throughout.
Alex was great to work with. He responded quickly and delivered quality workmanship with our Business Plan.
For the first time I created my own general overview of the plan, which providing me with a much clearer vision of my idea
Our experience with Alex was a great start to a long term relationship.
The thoroughness and responsiveness. Thank you!
OGS Capital delivers!
I was provided a questionnaire with basic company info. I was then called by an expert by the name of Mr. Alex Silensky who asked pointed questions about our company goals and objectives for our business plan. He delivered a quality product I could use for various purposes.
OGScapital has served 5,000+ clients:
Knowing your options gives you the insight and relevant information to plan, execute, and implement a visa business plan. A visa business plan holds no water missing any one of the three: business, planning, and money.
Your visa business plan should elaborate your intent and methodical manner. You should know who you are visiting, your financial status, your target business fields, and your local knowledge about strategizing your business ploy with locals in the UK market.
Get your UK Startup Visa Business Plan that is Fully Compliant with the Requirements of the Endorsement Body
You may consider updates and the latest information once you finalize how to make a business plan for a visa? We are sharing here tips for your reference and adopting new and easier methods for starting business visas that are compliant with endorsement bodies.
However, you may check at the Govt. of the UK site for a list of authorized endorsement bodies.
A UK start-up visa business plan in the UK will allow businesspersons, executive, and managers from outside European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to establish their business in the UK.
At times a pre-approval in close coordination may be viable to streamline the documentation part. If this pre-approval is in place that comes in 2 or 3 working days, it gives a sense of certainty to clients and helps them plan their UK visa business plans more effectively.
UK Start-up visa business plan has conditions like:
- You should be min 18 years of age
- No previous business in the UK (unless held leave as tier1 Graduate Entrepreneur)
- Should have an endorsement by the UK endorsing body. Endorsement letter should not be older than three months before the visa application date
- Latest passport and another form of valid travel identifications
- Passport size color photograph
- Financial evidence to show you can live at your means for the duration of your trip, like a bank statement or pay-slips for the last 6 months, will suffice
Time for Visas
It will take about 3 to 5 weeks for visa application processing. Once all clear and done, the next steps will ensue.
Foreigners can search for types of business plans in the UK to get relevant visas, depending on what nationality they hold. You may be asked to apply for a work visa first before opting to cue your documents for a business visa. This will involve the following steps:
- Apply for a correct visa that entails your given data and details
- Weigh and assess your business legal structure
- Process your business details for an incorporation
- Get registration for Tax
Who is the Target UK Visa Business Customer?
UK Startup visa application for UK business will help attract entrepreneurs to set up businesses, which in return will boost local commercial hubs and give rise or jack-up the economy as a whole.
The Home Office is taking all the right steps in ensuring that foreign entrepreneurship gets the right, error-free information, service, and methods that are easier to follow. All proper documentation will ensure to get you an immigration business plan template for a smooth ride in a business venture in the UK.
Independent bodies within the country familiar with starting a business set-up will assess your business probabilities, expansion scope, and financial structure to keep it a seamless venture. They will investigate:
- Your options or proposals with an idea for your innovative extending scheme
- Its viability at par with local businesses, and
- Its scalability for revenue returns
The visa is for two years. After its expiry, you can switch to the innovator category on the same business ideas. This way, you can still retain an endorsement.
Types of UK visas
The UK, like other countries, has various visa categories. Once you have a sample of UK start-up visa business plan, you can make an informed decision:
For work visas, you need to get a job offer from an employer in the UK. You can get a Tier 5 visa without sponsorship if you are between 18 and 30 years old and want to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years.
If you are 16 or over and have been offered a course by a student sponsor and have enough money to support yourself, you can apply for this visa. English reading, writing is a must for this visa.
It’s a one-time or long-term visa that allows you to stay in the UK at a stretch for max up to 6 months. You must apply for this visa if you have to take part in a conference, meeting, or training. Not to mention, there are various types of business plans UK as well as visa immigration business plans.
It’s all online, where you will see what docs and information you need to share for such visas.
It’s a type of visa for those who intend to work, live, and study in the UK with no future restrictions. It almost carries no limits.
These visas facilitate you to establish a family life with your UK resident family members.
This visa is a must when you are traveling in transit through the UK to another country. However, you need to show documentary evidence you have enough funds and have clear intent to move out of the UK.
Available Types of Business with UK Visas
Different types of visa business plans can be more effective if you know your business plan services for a visa.
The following types of visas can help you proceed with the nature of the business plan to buy UK Visa.
Types of Business visas:
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
It’s for people who are famous globally as world leaders, having rare talent in the field of science and arts. You need to score a minimum of 75 points to get an approving nod from a competent body for this visa.
Standard Visitor Visa
This category allows you to have fun and site seeing opportunities with your family members in the UK. You can land in the UK for business purposes also, such as
- If you have business activities relating to your intent to join or establish a business in the UK
- You are planning to attend a conference, training, and or meeting
Six months’ stay is its tag line.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
These are typical investor visas for those who are keen to establish a new business in the UK. You need 95 points with conditions to fulfill your financial obligation for business setup. Command in the English language is mandatory. It’s a three-year visa.
Tier 1 Investor Visa
It’s good for those who want to stay in the UK by investing part of their wealth in the UK. Such an investment must be a robust nature of an investment for contributing to the economy of the UK.
UK Sole Representative Visa
It is good for those companies who wish to extend their businesses overseas and run a branch office in the UK. However, the company rep should not be a director or shareholder in the company. It’s a three-year visa with an extension facility for another two years.
UK Turkish Businessperson Visa
It’s only for Turkish businesspeople looking to own a business in the UK. They must show sufficient financial muscle for such a venture. Applicant should be an active member of the business. It’s a one-year visa with three years pending visa extension.
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
This visa is given to students who are very much positive about establishing a business in the UK after completing their graduation. It’s a UK point system method, and people outside EEA can also avail of this facility.
Draw a Business Plan
The above-given business visa information, their types, and duration will help you take a step ahead to plan your visa business plan cost. They are business visas, and each has a different amount tag and need financial involvement to set up your business in the UK.
Nonetheless, you need to ensure that your business needs staff members and directors, managers, and shareholders to be with you to run a successful business. All visa categories need you to evaluate costs for a business plan needed for UK startup visa .
Your plan must have room for a multi-layer system to be in place for creating a strategic business plan. You may look into local market norms, pros, and cons to enter a new market. Draw an outline for rules that will determine how you will run your business.
You need stakeholders, maybe investors, managers, and staff, to make it a business entity. Check for local regulations in this respect to have a clear budget cost in front. Also, evaluate the cost of a immigration business plan.
You must have a clear figure on your capital money, financials, and its immediate disbursement plans, majorly dealing with procurement, engaging tools, mobilization of machinery, staff, and management cost. Then you have certain daily operational costs for the project or service line you are adopting. Designing a proper sales business plan will keep your business up and running.
OGS Capital Consultants – Contact Us
We, at OGS Capital Consultants, have professionals who will offer top of the range services in a wide range of fields.
We have a unique thinking method to count in the first and last brick to give a business plan for a start-up visa to the UK, covering all intermediary steps with precision, leaving nothing undone. The UK startup visa is the tag line for you to see the variety of services and its further diversification we can couple it into.
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Business Plan template
What is a business plan.
A Business Plan is a written document that describes your core business objectives and how you plan to achieve them over a set period of time. It is designed to help you, and others, understand how you plan to generate money and make your business sustainable. A Business Plan often includes information about your goals, strategies, marketing and sales plans and financial forecasts. Read on below for more information about the key sections of a Business Plan.
Download your copy of the Business Plan template now. The document includes a Personal Survival Budget template and a Cash Flow Forecast template, which are also required for your application:
The guide is an annotated version of the Business Plan template with notes from our Business Advisers about what type of information, examples and evidence to include in order to help us understand you and your business. While we encourage you to use this Business Plan template, it is not mandatory and you are welcome to submit your own Business Plan template provided it details similar information.
Please note, the following documents should open on any device with a document viewer and editor but for the best user experience, we recommend editing this Business Plan template on a desktop.
Why is a Business Plan important?
There are many great reasons why it is worth your time creating a Business Plan – even if you’re not quite ready to apply for a Start Up Loan. Here are just seven:
A Business Plan:
- Provides a structured way of organising your thoughts and clarifying your idea.
- Helps you set out your goals and spot any potential problems in achieving these goals.
- Gives you a clear strategy to follow when things get busy.
- Is often essential for securing external finance for your business (and is required if you’re applying for a Start Up Loan).
- Allows you to measure your progress as you go along.
- Ensures all of your team are working towards the same vision.
- Helps you plan for the future.
Key sections of a Business Plan:
A Business Plan can include whatever information you feel is required to best convey how you are planning to make your business sustainable and, when it comes to applying for a Start Up Loan, the following are the core sections we require.
Your business and key objectives: A brief description of your business and its core products or services. This section also includes a clear and concise overview of the goals your business is trying to achieve over a set period of time. Sometimes these are broken down as short, mid and long-term goals, but it helps if they’re measurable (how will you know if you have achieved this?) and realistic (can you achieve this with the money, resources and time you have?).
If you are applying for a Start Up Loan, you will of course also need to detail how you intend to use the money if you’re successful. Our Loan Assessment team will want to see that the Start Up Loan will support your overall business objectives.
Your skills and experience: An overview of your experience as it relates to your business. If you’ve previously worked in a similar business, or have experience running another business, this will help provide confidence that you are in a good position to start up. Even if this is all brand new to you, think about any transferable skills you’ve developed, life experiences you’ve had or training you’ve completed that may be useful.
Your target customers, market and competition: A summary of key insights that demonstrate you have a strong understanding of your customers (and how to identify them), your market (and how to position yourself within it) and your competitors (and how to differentiate yourself from them on factors like price, quality, brand etc).
Your sales and marketing plans: This section is all about how you are planning to attract customers. You might include information about where you’ll distribute your products, what your branding and logo will be and what pricing you’ll apply. Additionally, you will need to demonstrate how you will spread the word about your product/services in order to generate demand, such as using social media, exhibiting at a trade conference or investing in online advertising.
Your operational plans: This will be different depending on your business model, but may include information on where you’ll trade (like a home office or external premises), the number of staff you’ll need to employ, what their roles will be and any equipment or tools you’ll need to run your business. You can also use this section to detail any processes that are important to your operations, as well as any industry, tax or legal regulations related to your business. It’s also good to think about any risks you may face, how you will overcome them and what you will do if things don’t go to plan.
Financials Many business plans include a financial section, which outlines how you’ll fund all of the activities you’ve outlined and what revenue you expect to generate. Because we ask you to complete a Cash Flow Forecast as part of your Start Up Loan application, we don’t require too much detail on this in your Business Plan. Rather, these two documents should be complementary.
Check out our Cash Flow Forecast guide and template >>
Writing a Business Plan – our top tips:
The tips below have been prepared by our Business Advisers and Loan Assessment team to help you understand some of the key things that will strengthen your application. For more in-depth advice, read our guidelines on how to write a Business Plan .
- Demonstrate that you understand your market and customer. For our Loan Assessment team to feel comfortable that your business plans are viable, they will want to see that there is a market who wants and needs your product/service, that you have thought about how you’ll set yourself apart from competitors and that you know how to attract your customers. Any market research you can do, like a simple online survey, looking up industry reports or interviews with potential customers will help.
- Use evidence and examples to back up any statements you make. It’s always more powerful when you can prove what you’re saying with hard facts, whether it’s with a strong statistic, a customer quote, examples of similar activity or other research. It doesn’t have to be detailed – sometimes it will be sufficient to include a link to further information – but it will help our loan assessment team feel more confident that your business plan is viable.
- Make sure everything ties together by linking every strategy to your core objectives. The purpose of a Business Plan is to show what your goals are and how you’re going to achieve them so remember to put your objectives at the heart of your plan. For example, if one of your goals is to generate 10 new sales per month, then in your marketing section you’ll need to think about how many sales each promotional channel needs to deliver in order to support this objective.
- Consider any risks you face and how you will overcome them. Every business has risks so don’t shy away from referencing these in your business plan. Demonstrating that you are aware of your key risks. Having a clear plan for how to reduce or overcome these is something that will set your business plan apart and give our loan assessment team confidence that you’re ready for the challenge.
- Be as clear and concise as possible and avoid waffle. Remember, we’re not looking to see every single detail about how your business will operate, rather we just need to know enough information to give us confidence that you have a clear plan in place. You might like to use bullet points, graphs, tables and subheadings to help you keep your content focused and help you avoid the temptation to go into too much detail.
- Presentation matters: proof read, review and format your document. As with most things in life, first impressions count. Use clear headings, structure your document in a clear order and check you’ve used consistent fonts throughout. Remember, you don’t have to be a writer or a designer to prepare a professional looking document. Most importantly, double check that you haven’t made any spelling or grammatical errors. It can be a good idea to have someone proof read your work for you once you’re finished to pick up anything you might have missed.
Learn new skills
Start Up Loans has partnered with the Open University to offer a range of free courses.
A Business Plan can include whatever information you feel is required to best convey how you are planning to make your business sustainable and, when it comes to applying for a Start Up Loan, the following are the core sections we require (our Business Plan template includes them).
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How to Write a Startup Business Plan
By Yuvika Iyer , May 28, 2022 - 10 min read
A startup business plan is an outline of your ideas and strategies for what you’ll need to do to start, manage, and even complete your startup’s mission. Creating one might sound simple enough, but because it’s a startup’s roadmap for success, it can be a complex document to create.
Writing a business plan can make a world of difference for entrepreneurs who desire external funding. It involves determining your target customers, understanding what makes them tick, and figuring out how to reach them through marketing campaigns.
In this blog post, we’ve explained why you should have a startup business plan, different types of startup business plans, and we’ve included 12 of the most effective tips for writing a startup business plan. If you’re ready to start with now, we have a product launch template to get you started quickly.
What is a startup business plan?
A startup business plan is a written document that outlines your ideas and strategies for launching, managing, and eventually exiting your new venture.
A well-constructed business plan can be crucial to the success of any entrepreneurial endeavor . As you prepare your proposal, keep in mind that it will evolve as you learn more about your market.
To start, create an outline of the most important items you'd like feedback on before writing anything down officially.
Then ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want?
- Why does my company exist?
- How will I make money?
- What are my long-term goals?
A detailed business plan helps you set milestones for measuring success. You can share the plan with investors who may want some reassurance on the viability of their investment in your company.
The best way to create a successful startup business plan is by including everything in an organized and easy-to-read document — marketing strategies, financial projections, team bios, timelines, and more.
What is a lean startup business plan?
A lean startup business plan is a method for developing products that relies on iterative experimentation to reduce uncertainty.
It has been used by companies such as Google , Amazon, and Facebook in the early stages of their development, and involves testing your idea with real customers early in development.
Lean startups are less likely to fail because they have tested their product or service with live feedback from consumers. Doing this allows them to make changes quickly without wasting resources on something no one wants.
The goal is not to build an extensive business plan but rather a "lean" one that can be changed based on customer feedback and then re-evaluated in regular intervals until it reaches market potential — or fails.
A lean startup business plan is a strategy that focuses on getting a product in front of customers as quickly and cheaply as possible. Use the lean startup business plan to validate your ideas before wasting time and resources.
Why do you need a small startup business plan?
A small startup business plan is one of the most important steps in building a company. Apart from helping you to focus on company goals, it aids in obtaining feedback from potential partners and keeps the team on the same page.
The best thing about starting small? You can change course at any time! If you need help developing or tweaking your small startup business plan, use this guide for entrepreneurs to get started.
You've built a product and you're ready to take the next step, but what's your plan? First, you need a strategy in place. Do you know how much money it will cost, or where exactly that funding should come from? What about marketing strategies for getting customers in the door?
You’ll also need to find ways to retain them afterwards so they keep coming back again and again (and spending more).
Obtain external funding
If you want to get funding from lenders or investors, you need a startup business plan. Lenders want to make sure they're investing in a company that will last and grow.
A well-organized idea shows passion for its purpose and outlines clear goals for helping customers. At the same time, having an exit strategy is also important.
Making a plan for when things don’t pan out as desired lets investors understand how much value there can be while giving customers (and yourself) peace of mind.
Understand your target market
One key piece of your business plan is knowing how to conduct a market analysis. To do this, consider the industry, target market, and competitors.
Are there any market trends or competitor factors that can affect your business? Review them closely and get ready to make required changes to your business plan.
Prioritize high ROI strategies
In business, ROI is important. Any business that doesn’t generate as much cash as it burns is likely to fail.
With a startup business plan in place, the strategies with the highest ROI become crystal clear. You'll know exactly what to tackle first and how to prioritize the rest of your tasks.
Accelerate financial health
Business plans are not crystal balls, but they can help forecast your financial health. Planning for expenses is vital to keep operations steady and identify problems as soon as possible.
Cash flow projections can help you see if goals are achievable or highlight upcoming issues that need correction before it's too late.
How to write a small startup business plan
Use this guide for entrepreneurs to develop or tweak a startup business plan. By following this easy six-step process, you'll soon have a clear path to startup success.
1. Clarify the startup vision, mission, and values
The first step to writing a startup business plan is understanding the startup itself.
Once you know what your startup does, ask yourself why. What is the startup's mission? What problem will it help customers solve? The startup's mission statement helps define its reason for existing.
It’s usually expressed in a simple sentence, but can also be written as a short paragraph.
Try to answer these questions: What does your startup do? How will it make money? How quickly do you hope it will grow? Are there any significant milestones or deadlines that need to be met?
2. Outline the executive summary
Now that you have an idea for your startup, its mission, and a vision in mind, it's time to write your startup business plan executive summary.
Keep it simple and precise. Begin by writing a one-sentence startup business plan introduction that showcases the core customer need/pain point and how you propose to solve it.
3. Develop startup goals and milestones
Next, write down the milestones and goals for your startup business plan. This is a crucial step that many entrepreneurs forget when they're starting out.
Do you want to focus on getting new customers? Or attaining a specific revenue number? Without clear short-term goals, it can be hard to know how to prioritize startup tasks.
4. Write a company description
Answer the two fundamental questions — who are you and what will you do? Then, give an introduction to why you're in business.
Provide a summary of introspective goals, clarifying intangible aspects such as values or cultural philosophies. Make sure to mention:
- Proposed business structure (limited partnership, sole proprietorship, incorporated company, or a general partnership)
- Business model
- Business vision and mission statement
- Background information of your team members
5. Conduct market analysis
Choosing the right market is crucial to your organization’s success. There are different kinds of products and services that a business can offer and each has particular requirements for a successful market fit.
If you choose one that doesn't have a large enough customer base or is not profitable enough, your company may end up struggling for every sale.
Ensure that there is a clear market niche — an ideal audience of customers with a need or a pain point that your business can help solve.
6. Develop startup partnerships and resources
When you're launching a small startup, one of the most important things that your business needs is capital. There are several ways to get going on this front.
When thinking about sources of funding for startups , consider startup grants, startup loans, startup investors, and startup accelerators.
7. Write a startup marketing plan and startup budget
Your startup business plan is almost complete! All that's left is to create a startup marketing plan and budget. Your startup marketing plan will help you define your company’s target audience and brand image.
The startup budget is an integral part of any startup that helps you take the guesswork out of writing expenses.
Examples of startup business plans
Business plans differ based on the nature of the business, target market, competitive advantage, delivery of product/service, scope, and size.
Though the core business plan template remains the same, the content and flow change. Here is an example of an accounting firm's business plan:
At our company, ABC Accounting Services LLC, we work hard to provide the best service and build a strong team. Our vision is for this brand to be recognized as #1 throughout NYC by both smaller businesses and larger corporations.
Our values are reflected in all that we do: integrity (ethical behavior), service (giving top priority to clients' needs), excellence ("doing it right"), teamwork (working together).
ABC Accounting Services LLC is the premier accounting firm in New York City and will handle various financial services. We specialize in audits, bookkeeping, tax preparation/compliance work, and budgeting assistance with high-quality consulting.
ABC Accounting Services LLC will be structured as an LLC — a Limited Liability Company in the state of New York. It will provide accounting, bookkeeping, taxation, auditing, and compliance-related services to small, medium, and large enterprises situated in New York City.
Marketing strategy and competitive advantages
Despite the fact that there are many established accounting services firms in our industry, we have a great chance of becoming successful because of the high demand for financial consulting.
Often, small businesses don't need full-time employees but would rather hire an accounting service provider like us to handle their bookkeeping and tax returns on time every year.
It is best to find a unique niche or carve out your own market in the financial consulting services industry. If you're able to create an identifiable brand identity for your accounting business, then you will likely see less competition from other firms.
ABC Accounting Services LLC will focus on delivering an exceptional client experience to grow the business and expand market share.
Startup business plan template
Here's a template you can follow when creating your startup business plan:
Top tips for writing a startup business plan
The following tips will help you create a compelling startup business plan without getting overwhelmed.
Know your audience
To write an effective business plan, tailor your language and level of detail to match the audience reading it.
Have a simple and clear goal
If you have a goal of securing funding for your business, it will be an uphill task with lots of work and research.
Simplifying and breaking down bigger goals into smaller, actionable tasks will assist you in getting through them faster.
Spend time researching
Avoid assuming anything about your target audience, product/service, or the market need.
Spending adequate time and effort on research from primary and secondary sources will help you develop an accurate business plan.
Build a startup toolkit
The process of creation becomes easier if you have the right startup tools and software by your side. Pick the right ones that will help you in your journey.
Keep it precise
Short and easy-to-read business plans are best kept within 20 pages. If you have additional documents, consider adding them as appendices or provide a link if available online.
Ensure tonal consistency
Keep the tone consistent by having just one author write your startup business plan. Otherwise, be sure to edit it thoroughly before you finalize it.
Add reference points
All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative data points.
Be ready to pivot
A business plan should be fluid and flexible. Think of it as an evolving document that will continue to change over time.
How to create a business plan with Wrike
A good business plan is a powerful tool and can be a key predictor of future progress, but simply filling in a startup business plan won’t help you achieve success. You need to create action steps with accountability that will help you reach your goals.
Wrike’s project management software can help your organization deliver successful projects and maximize individual and team productivity, and our product launch template can help you turn your startup business plan goals into actionable steps.
Start a free trial of Wrike today to see how it can help to simplify work, showcase progress to stakeholders, and achieve startup success.
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Continental plans thousands of job cuts in auto division
A car wheel with a badge showing the logo of German tyre company Continental, pictured before the company's annual news conference in Hanover, Germany, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
BERLIN, Nov 13 (Reuters) - German car parts manufacturer Continental (CONG.DE) said on Monday it would cut thousands of jobs in its automotive division worldwide as part of a plan to save 400 million euros ($428 million) a year from 2025.
The exact number of job cuts was not immediately clear, but it will amount to the "mid-four-digit range", the company said.
The news comes amid ongoing reports that Continental plans a restructuring and potential sell-offs, with CEO Nikolai Setzer saying in September he was considering a change in ownership of the company's ContiTech division.
The works council of the automotive division urged the company in an internal statement seen by Reuters to rule out outright dismissals and use all possible measures to keep its workforce on, from part-time retirement for older workers to retraining and reallocating staff.
The group's main businesses are making tires, the auto division, which produces software, safety features and autonomous driving technology, and a third division making digital technologies for autos and other sectors called ContiTech.
German business publication Manager Magazin reported the planned cuts in the automotive division on Sunday, saying they could number around 5,500 , more than 1,100 of which would be at the company's 30 locations in Germany.
The group employed around 200,000 people in 57 countries and markets as of the end of 2022.
Continental's statement on Monday did not confirm the figure reported by Manager Magazin but said planned cuts will focus on simplifying and streamlining its business and administrative structure via a range of measures across everything from sales to research and development to production.
The number of business areas within the division will be reduced from six to five, with the Smart Mobility segment dissolved and allocated into other areas.
Continental will provide a full strategy update at its capital markets day on Dec. 4, the statement said.
Last week the company reported that the automotive business returned to profit in the third quarter and predicted a strong quarter ahead. However, it also said demand for passenger cars would grow more slowly next year.
($1 = 0.9347 euros)
Reporting by Andrey Sychev, Victoria Waldersee, Christina Amann Editing by Miranda Murray, Susan Fenton and Bernadette Baum
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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- Business and self-employed
Apply for a Start Up Loan for your business
Apply for a government-backed Start Up Loan of £500 to £25,000 to start or grow your business.
Unlike a business loan, this is an unsecured personal loan. You’ll need to pass a credit check.
You’ll get free support and guidance to help write your business plan, and successful applicants get up to 12 months of free mentoring.
Start now on the Start Up Loans website
Before you start
To apply for the loan all of the following must apply:
- you live in the UK
- you’re 18 or over
- you have (or plan to start) a UK-based business that’s been fully trading for less than 36 months
Fees and repayment
Start Up Loans are government-backed and charge a fixed interest rate of 6% per year.
You can repay the loan over a period of 1 to 5 years. There’s no application fee and no early repayment fee.
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