Channelling your inner Baldrick… Why everyone needs a cunning plan

The phrase “Failure to plan means planning to fail” is never truer than when applied to getting a start–up (or indeed any business) off the ground. Your business plan is the rationale that supports your brilliant idea, and convinces investors that your business is worth them plugging some cash into. Without one, the best idea is just that, an idea, so it is essential to produce a comprehensive business plan to demonstrate how your idea will make the transition to compelling business proposition.

Whilst there are many templates available that will help to show you how to draw up your own, there is no substitute for learning from someone who has started and run many successful businesses. The services of a mentor at this point are invaluable – they know what works, and what doesn’t, and they have experience of presenting to potential investors, so can help and advise at every stage of the production of your plan.

As well as the value as a sales tool (and let’s face it, going out for investment is probably the most important sales pitch you’ll ever make) your business plan is vital for you as well. The process of producing it will really focus the mind on what you need to do to achieve success, what areas of business development you may need extra help with, and most importantly, whether your idea really does have the potential to become a viable business.

So – what does your business plan need to incorporate?

  • Executive summary: The key points of your plan in a digestible chunk. Your chance to present a quick overview that will tempt readers to investigate your plan in its entirety
  • Mission statement: Your vision for the future of your business, what makes it unique, your ethics and values, and how you plan to grab any opportunities that come your way
  • Sector analysis: A proof point – that demonstrates your knowledge of your sector, the marketplace and your competition, and, most importantly, how your findings have channelled your thoughts to ensure that you can achieve success in a competitive industry
  • Your business: What makes you special – management, sector expertise, the technologies and services you utilise to ensure smooth running, and of course, the core of your business – the product or service that you sell
  • Strategy: Your blueprint for success, which sets up how you will operate your business, how you will market it, how you plan scale-up in the future and how you will manage challenges – both from outside, and within your organisation
  • Financial matters: Your current financial position, ratified by balance sheet, cash flow statement, profit projection, and your budget. The justification for the money you are asking for from investors, and how you are planning on rewarding them for their investment
  • Objective setting: Your business goals and objectives, and your plan of action to meet each one

Your plan can be very simple, or run to many pages of in-depth planning and strategising – what is important is that you have the key points covered, and have a vision for the future of your business which is accurately recorded, and provides a coherent and compelling proposition that can develop holistically alongside your business, and hopefully, attract investment along the way.