Getting Started With Your Business Plan

The biggest frustration with anything new is knowing where to start.

If you've never written a business plan before, don't worry too much.

The great thing about business planning is it follows a certain and fairly straight-forward process and I'm going to cover this process off over the next few days.

Use Your Business Plan Template

I trust you managed to download the business plan template yesterday, if not please go to this page and download it now. (If it doesn't download properly you need to update your Adobe Acrobat and there's a link on that page as well).

When looking through the template, you'll see that it reads like a story. And that's what it is; a story about your business journey that you believe you will take.

When you think about it that all makes perfect sense because all you are doing is putting down on paper how you believe you will get the profit forecasts you want.

That means you need to develop sections on:

  • Your customers (target market)
  • Your products
  • Why people will buy your products (your USP)
  • How many people will buy your products (market research)
  • How you will tell people about your products (marketing)
  • How much money you will make (finances)

All these sections plus a few more follow a logical pattern in your plan. You start with market research because if there's not a need for your product you may as well stop there. Then you go through the rest of the sections one by one.

Where do you begin?

The best place you can start is to think about who you want to target your products to and why they will buy them. Really, concentrate on this rather than diving in head first into your finances.

Why? Well, some people start developing a product or service but eventually find out that their target customers didn't actually want their product!. For example, opening a coffee shop in a high street that already has 3 such shops is probably not a good idea. But opening an Italian Deli is just what people in that town want.

Write down as much information about who you are targeting. Go and talk to people in the places you want to offer your products and services and ask them about your plans. Just jump right in because you can adjust your questions as you go along when you see what answers you are getting.

OK, that's where you should start - and start today.....

How to start your business plan today

I advocate two methods:

The first is for you to take each section one at a time and populate this with your information. This means you learn as you go along and it helps build your confidence.

However, if you've never written a plan before you might want to get some additional professional help to cut the learning curve but also ensure you complete each section correctly.

The second is to use a business plan that has already been written for your chosen business sector and then adapt for your business.

From my 20 years experience of writing business plans I have learned what banks want. So I have written 30 different business sector-specific plans that can be downloaded online where you can easily add in your own information. Have a look to see how these will help your business. The 30+ sample business plans are over here

Alternatively you can hire someone to do all of this for you. But at the end of the day, it's your business so it should also be your plan. By either following a sample business plan or doing each stage yourself, you'll easily get to the end point in no time at all.

Tomorrow I look at developing your plan and how much you have to write. Believe me, it's not that bad!

To your success,

Peter Hale
Best-Selling Author, Speaker and
Business Growth Strategist