Planning your business

Thinking about starting your own business? You're not alone; more than 500,000 businesses start every year in the UK. We'll help you get started with your business plan, avoid common pitfalls and boost your chances of success with expert advice & top tips.

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  • Recipe for success: Business plans

    Writing a business plan is like creating your own recipe - you need to gather the ingredients together, set out your equipment, assess your working space and create a plan that is tailor-made for you. Getting it right involves lots of preparation and attention to detail - you can't skip any steps.

  • Plan for your business
     
     

    Ingredients

    • Description of your products and services
    • Outline of the business aims
    • Profile of your target market and analysis of demand
    • Information about your management team and resources
    • Sales and marketing plan
    • Assessments of your competitors
    • Analysis of your sector
    • Data on your current financial situation
    • Profit and loss projections
    • Sales and cash flow forecasts

    Equipment

    • Calculator
    • SWOT analysis
     
  • Method

    As in cooking, preparation is absolutely key to a successful business plan. Start by putting your ingredients in order:

    1. Start by describing your business — what does it do and what makes it different from rival firms?
    2. Provide some background. Explain why the business was established, what the goals are and how you plan to get there.
    3. Outline your sales and marketing strategy. Include information on pricing and channels to market.
    4. Give details of key personnel and their roles. Describe important assets such as premises and equipment.
    5. Clarify your aims. Are you looking for steady growth or fast expansion?
    6. Assess the threats and opportunities in your sector. Who are your key competitors?
    7. Finally, present your current financial figures. Include details of any start-up investment.

    With all these in place, you can create your SWOT analysis - showing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing your business.

    Once you really understand your strengths and weaknesses, you can work on your business forecasts. Cook up a sales forecast, a cash flow forecast and a projected profit and loss account for up to five years ahead.

    Don’t be tempted to be over-optimistic - ask a professional (such as an accountant) for advice.

    Finally, look at everything you have assembled and work out that key missing ingredient for success - the financing you need to grow the business.

  • Top tip:

    As your dish is cooking, you may need to tweak the recipe. Don’t be afraid to make revisions as you go along, if circumstances change or you realise your initial recipe wasn't accurate.

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  • Find out how Sage can help your business

    Our range of software can give you the confidence you need to focus on growing your business:

    Accounting softwarePayroll softwareCustomer relationship management softwareEnterprise resource planning softwarePayments software

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