Business Plans – “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail” (includes business plan template)

Some people do it, other don’t. Personally planning gives me some comfort in knowing what to expect. It’s my road map of who is doing what and when. Yes, in reality, things will always change but ultimately you have things you need to do regardless, and a target you are aiming for.

The good old business plan is the primary tool of budding entrepreneurs. Not all businesses promote this concept but unless you really have your ideas and objectives written down – are you really serious about things?

Business Link UK is a terrific resource and tells you everything you need to know about starting, financing, running a business and much more. They share templates and case studies that can simplify the underlying tasks.

Their instructions on preparing a business plan are really useful and a excellent starting point:
http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?topicId=1073869162

Another great place to look is on your local bank’s website. Most banks have heaps of information including useful business plan templates and instructions. Just google ‘bank name + business plan’. The several versions I found are extremely useful and as a customer many of the legal and business advice is free!

The key benefits of building a business plan is that you can use this document to present to potential bank managers and venture capitalists. It is your foundation stone of your business and can continue to be reviewed and changed as you progress.

If a 20+ pages business plan is a little too daunting for you. Check out the many free ‘one page’ business plan documents floating around the Internet. As a minimum it should capture:
1) Your Market (who are your customers and competitors?)
2) Your Marketing (what are your product/service features and benefits? And how will you sell this?)
3) Your Finances (how are you funding and what are your estimated operational and sales figures?)
4) Your Growth Opportunities (how developed is your product/service offering? And how can it grow?)

You can download a very quick draft two-pager business plan template I put together in Microsoft Excel. Feel free to play around with the format. Note that this is just a starting point and plenty of due diligence is still required.

Click link to download file –> sparknlaunch.wordpress.com business plan 2011 template (xls)

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
+ Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts

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