This is Part 2 of Nick Hodson’s Business Starter Tips
Now you’ll need to pull together a business plan. Rain forests have been felled to provide paper for the huge numbers of books and articles written about devising the perfect business plan. The truth is, there is no perfect business plan. How could there be, every business is as different as every individual human being.
For some truly excellent advice, try visiting here. This is the British Library Business and Intellectual Property Centre, it’s absolutely full of useful tips and advice. If you can get to London easily, they also have a large number of workshops and one to one sessions at a very reasonable cost.
The Princes Trust has some really excellent advice and help on their website too. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, and I think their advice on business planning is quite overly detailed, but that’s not the worst crime!
Although it is aimed specifically at young people, there is some excellent general advice for all age groups.
When writing your business plan, the first thing to consider is – who are you writing your business plan for?
Your bank manager will definitely want to see one. If you need to raise finance elsewhere they will want to see something and your accountant, if they’re any good, will want an idea of how you imagine your business growing, but the main person who needs to see this document is you.
For your own purposes this document can be as detailed as you like, it can extend to many pages with sub chapters etc. For external viewers you should aim to make it as succinct as possible, preferably use just one A4 sheet. You may think there’s no way you can get all of the details you need onto just one sheet of paper, but that’s your first challenge!
Try this site for examples of one page business plans – they are a US company but the principles are the same.
You may be wondering why it’s so important to use just one sheet of paper. The truth is that if you present a bank manager or accountant with half a dozen closely typed pages, he won’t read it and you’ll have wasted your time.
Handy Tips #2
You can’t take too much time planning this aspect of your new business. You need to try and cover absolutely every aspect of your new business in great detail.
Make sure you include forecasts and projections, you’ll need to be ready to flex these as your business grows and changes.
Richard Stone has some excellent ideas on how to produce a truly flexible forecast. “Too many people, accountants included, think that producing an Excel spreadsheet and then pinning it up to look at occasionally passes for a sales forecast or cash flow projection.”