This page will take you through the process of using the business plan template, which you can download from our website. The template asks a number of detailed questions about your business - its markets, costs, etc. You will need to do some research in order to complete the template. This may take some time, but once your business is up and running you'll be very glad you spent time preparing a solid plan.
Using the business plan template
1. To start on your plan, download the template and save it to your computer. Remember also to save it regularly as you work on it. 2. The template uses forms. Use your mouse to click in the grey 'field' boxes and then add your own content. You can also make changes to any other part of the document. It is advisable that you try to keep edits to the titles to a minimum though. This is because our template will give your business plan a clear and recognisable structure. If you decide to edit the titles, remember that they will need to be changed within the contents page at the start of the document as well. 3. The business plan template links to a number of financial tables to help simplify the calculations you'll need to do when you start a business. Financial and descriptive information should be entered in the relevant cells. Each table contains automated formula that will calculate the totals and summaries for you. The formulae within these calculated cells are protected so that you cannot write over them accidentally. 4. Once you have completed the financial tables, save them and return to the rest of the document. You can save, close or print the document at any time in the normal way. Where a number of sheets are contained within a spreadsheet (accessed by using the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet) you will need to click each tab in order - from left to right - and print all sheets individually. Please note that this business plan template may not follow the same format as one a bank may ask you to complete. However, much of the content required will be similar.
Tips for writing your business plan
Keep your plan short - as it's more likely to be read if it's a manageable length. And write it as if it's aimed at an external audience, even if you only intend to use the plan internally. A carefully written plan will reinforce the positive impression you want to create for your business. Avoid jargon and put detailed information - eg market research data, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis or balance sheets - in an appendix at the back. If you have detailed plans for specific areas of your business - eg a sales and marketing plan or staff training plan - it's best not to include these but good practice to mention that they exist. Tailor the plan to suit your specific business - the type of information and level of detail needed in each section will vary according to business type.
It's good to get advice on writing your business plan, but it's not usually wise to have someone else write it for you. Lenders or investors will want to be confident that you are committed to your business plan and that you fully understand its contents. Most importantly, your business plan must take an objective and honest look at your business and its goals. There's no point in having unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved and when.
This is an overview of the business you want to start. It's vital. Many lenders and investors will make judgements about your business based on this section alone. Explain your business model in outline - see the Improve your business video in our Learning directory to find out more about the importance of a business model. Outline how your business will work, in an interesting way, leaving the reader keen to learn more. A good executive summary is more than just a description of your business and its products or services - use it to summarise the highlights