How to write a winning business plan

Throughout the educational process, lecturers and teachers often argue that you should begin an essay with the conclusion.

Not only does this give the audience a way into your argument, but it helps to inform their expectations of what you intend to achieve.

Most importantly, it should be so inspiring that the reader could not possibly consider putting it down, for which the same can be said of an exceptionally-well researched and written business plan. 

Here are our top tips on what you should include in a winning business plan:

1. Get a good start

Open with an executive summary, which as the names suggests, is an overview of the business plan. This should invite investors to continue reading your ideas.

2. Outline your wares

Once you have attracted their attention, it's vital that you address key issues so the investor knows the kinds of risk they face by putting their money into the business.

Explain what products or services you intend offering and quickly identify your market to prove there is a viable business opportunity at hand.

3. Do market research

Some market research could really be useful here as this will enable you to serve up some winning facts and figures your investors cannot ignore.

Within this research, reveal the size of the market, the extent to which it is due to grow and how you plan to penetrate it.

4. Online or retail?

Tell your investor how you will offer your products or services, such as whether they can be ordered online, via the phone or in-store.

5. The competition

Caribbean-American poet Audre Lorde once famously said "there are no new ideas" and this is as true in the business landscape as it is in literature.

That is why it's vital that you prove to your investors that you are well aware of the competition you face, but do illustrate the innovative ways you might rival these competitors.

6. Check your grammar

Similar to essay writing, the business plan will be received with critical eyes, so as well as ensuring that it's written in a professional and engaging tone, it's also important to ensure that the spelling and grammar is correct.

While this might seem less important to you than projecting that your start-up will be earning millions within its first year, the likelihood is that investors will see such errors as a reflection of you.

7. Do SWOT analysis

Base your business plan on SWOT analysis, which simply stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

This short acronym is arguably the most important guide to follow when drawing up a business plan as it briefly reminds you of all the information you need to include.

8. Create deadlines

You need to give your investors a clear time frame on when you believe your business will be in full swing, and at this point it's worth presenting estimates of the costs you expect to face, as well as the profits you hope to enjoy.

9. Create a cash flow forecast

Parallel to this is a strong cash flow forecast, which will detail how quickly you expect to receive money against how much you will need to spend to keep the business going.

10. Funding

Don't forget to tell investors exactly how you intend to fund your business, what you might do to overcome unforeseen problems and whether or not you will be hiring staff, and if so, from where and how many.

Both a cash flow forecast template and a business plan template are included in Lawpack's Limited Company Formation Kit.

A sample business plan is also available in Lawpack's expert guide How to Run a Limited Company.


Published on: May 30, 2012

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