Help applying for finance

How to write a business plan

A business plan describes where your business is now, your aims for the future, and how you expect to achieve them. In addition to obtaining finance, a good business plan can also help you to remain clear about your strengths, weaknesses, targets and performance.

The information your business plan should contain

1. Business overview

Begin with the aims and objectives of your business, where the idea came from and why you think it will work. Summarise the highlights from each section of your plan, with a focus on your competitive advantage, profit and cash flow forecasts, how much money you need and the prospects for investors.

2. Legal status and key personnel

Next, confirm the structure of your business. Will it be a partnership, a limited company or a sole trader? Describe your experience; introduce other key personnel, and whether or not you intend to take on additional employees.

3. Details of your products and/or services

Now add a few more details about what your business does. If relevant, explain how products will be developed and any patents, trademarks or design rights you hold.

4. Your target market

Describe the size and characteristics of your target market. Show how your product meets customer needs and back up your assertions with research.

5. Your unique selling point (USP)

Highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the competition and show how your product or service stands out.

6. Marketing your business

Detail your pricing, margins, promotion and positioning, as well as how you plan to reach your customers e.g. advertising, PR and e-commerce.

7. How and where your business will operate

Describe the location of your premises and the benefits it offers in terms of cost, transport, distribution etc.

8. Your financial requirements