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One, Two, Three plan – the importance of your business plan

By Tim Fuell - April 12, 2012

Your business plan is probably the most important document you will ever create during the life of your business and yet you are expected to create it before you have even got things under way. That often makes it appear more scary than it really is, so here’s 6 top tips from us on how to approach creating your business plan:

Don’t be scared

You are only sharing what you already know and believe. A business plan is simply a sort of resume for your proposed business. It has very similar uses to a personal CV too. You should use it as your calling card whenever you have important meetings, say with your would-be business landlord, bank manager or potential investors. In those sorts of situations explaining what it is you want to do and where you want to head with it might not come across clearly in conversation and then your written business plan comes to the fore, outlining who you are and what your purpose is.

Include your dream as much as reality

Don’t make stuff up or set unrealistic targets but certainly make sure your business plan is created to explain and illustrate the vision you have for your business. Your dreams and aspirations and the passion you have for them will go a long way towards convincing others into helping you achieve that vision. Do achieve this you will also need to show how you realistically intend to achieve your targets, what expertise you have and where you will obtain help from other experts to ensure your venture is successful and will turn a profit.

It is a document for you, that you can share

Too many people think that a business plan is somehow separate from their day to day business. In fact, it is quite the reverse. What you do day to day and where you want to head from that is what your business plan needs to be about. While it is important to create a document that presents your business concept so that others quickly grasp what you hope to` be doing, your business plan should first and foremost be developed for your own use. Use it to guide decisions, inspire you in moments of despair and refocus you when you are faced with juggling several things at once.

Be honest with the figures

A business plan needs to be truthful and have attainable targets. Consider precisely the expenses you will incur for each aspect of your business. Projected sales and monthly expenses should be based on at least some sort of market research (and include reference to that too). Set your targets of the volume of business you will need to generate in order to meet your obligations and work from there. How realistic would it be to generate more business on top of that?

Include reference to people

Even those who are not yet signed up to work for you. Include descriptions of the sort of people you intend working for you, what their expertise, experience and strengths will be. Include the same for yourself. As a start-up business the people within your organisation are probably the most important asset – especially if the salaries you can offer are fairly restricted. Getting staff who will go the extra mile because they buy into your company idea will make you far more productive in the long run.

Keep updating your business plan as you evolve

Your initial concept presentation plan is vital to get your business going, but always ensure you review your plan at regular intervals and keep an updated copy too. Make sure you revisit it and update any projections with some actual figures and revised projections. Include periodic reviews of how things have gone and what you have learnt and how you are implementing it. You never know when you may need to seek new investment so having an up to date business plan ready will save you a lot of stress over time. It will also help you stay focused on where you want your business to head.

Maybe it is all common-sense, maybe you need a little more guidance. There are countless Business Plan templates available on the internet but importantly remember your business plan needs to be unique to you. A template should be used as guidance not as a definite way of doing things.