How to write a basic business plan?

This article is primarily for small businesses that do not require finance.

You may think that writing a business plan is a chore and pointless but it is essential to help you gain an understanding of the viability of your business and keep you focussed. It will give you direction and help clarify your mind by being your own handbook. It can be adapted as you grow and changes happen – the important thing is to reference it regularly to remind yourself what you should be doing as it is so easy to forget.

What should you include in your plan?
You plan should describe in basic terms to a 3rd person what your business does, why you exist, who your clients will be, the narrower you can make this the better. For example, if you are selling a consumer treadmill, it might be to target commuters aged 30-50 that have demanding corporate jobs meaning they don’t have time to visit a gym and don’t enjoy running outdoors. Describe how you will market to those people (print advertising, social media, pr, referral etc).

I would almost list your suppliers, from those you buy products from to internet service providers and bookkeepers. You may also briefly discuss why you have chosen them over others. This will also clarify what you personally value in a business and help you in yours.

Describe how will you get a competitive advantage (being faster or better quality etc) and write a paragraph about why you are unique and what you offer that others don’t.

Talk through the customer experience. How do they contact you and how do you respond. What is their journey like to finding you to buying? How easy is it for them to buy.

Discuss your marketing – people have know you exist to buy from you. List the channels you will use to let people know about you and how you will operate in each of these channels. Go into as much detail as you can. Your content and frequency of posting. Wil you do this yourself or hire someone. How will you ensure that your content looks professional? Will take courses on photography and design.

Revenue streams – explain how your company will actually make money. Some examples are direct sales, memberships fees, and selling advertising space. If your company has multiple revenue streams, list them all.

Financials – there are many accountancy packages to choose from but you can also do this yourself if you run a simple business. Google Sheets is perfect to show your costs and profits from which you can make forecasts and calculations. I have created a simple one that we will go through now that works out your Gross and Net Profits. There is also a link below for you to access it on our Google Drive and use as your own.

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