Tips or advice on writing a business plan.

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Answered by: Sean, An Expert in the Create a Business Plan Category
If you are searching tips on writing a business plan, you are already considering setting up your own business.

Whether you have an innovative idea, spotted a niche in the market or you can provide a compelling alternative to competitors in your chosen market, you need to sit down and detail your big ideas.

This is where writing a business plan comes in. It becomes a reference point for all your future endeavours and also a marketing tool, should you need additional investment or a start-up loan.

We have taken some of the most frequently asked questions about business start-up, and what to expect, and we have developed our five-point plan for tips and to promote good practice:


When writing your business plan you need to be realistic and detailed; if your business plan is built on a foundation of assumptions and hearsay it is safe to say your business will suffer.

Additionally, your business plan needs to be grounded with concrete knowledge of the market. Consider the market’s size, how it will grow and where you fit into it. For a local business you will need to consider the local population size, demographic and customer demand, whilst on a larger or national scale you may need to consider internet growth patterns, interest rates and exchange rates.

Whether you are revolutionising social networking or opening a garden centre, researching your target market is key. How do you fit into the market? How will you make a difference? Why would consumers choose your new enterprise over the current offering? Being able to explain this in a clear and concise way gives you greater understanding on what you can offer and on how to successfully approach your business start-up.

Business Costs

All business costs should be documented clearly in your business plan following careful calculation, studious research and constant revaluation.

Underestimating your start-up and on-going costs is just as disastrous as being overly optimistic with your sales forecasts. Small costs add up and ensure you include every possibility and variable; people may forget certain costs during their business start-up, such as stationery, utilities, business rates, insurance, moving costs, cost of refurbishing a premises, interest and other finance-related costs.

Cover both financial and operational aspects of the business, from salaries, opening hours, sourcing equipment to sourcing clients and customers. Knowing where your costs are coming from enables you to calculate how much cashflow you need to cover their costs and make a profit.


Be realistic and cautious; most businesses do not make a profit for the first couple of years and you may end up working twice as hard for a small liveable wage. Give yourself breathing space by factoring in contingency money into your business plan. This will be your safety net should your start-up costs slightly higher than expected or when unexpected or unforeseen expenses occur, such as an overinflated utility bill or when cashflow is tight at the beginning.

Whilst you may forecast that your business will generate enough cashflow to cover any bumps in the road, it is good practice and vital for the business’ success that you err on the side of caution from day one. Maybe apply for large investment than risk voiding on payments which affect can result in fines, leaving yourself tight financially


Remain non-partisan and indifferent; rule with your head, not your heart. Ask yourself what would the reader be looking for – you may need a number of business plans for different reasons, such as for a reference point, another on future plans and an alternative designed to try and secure investment.

Obviously your business plans will contain the same information but will be using a different slant, for example with securing investment you would need some focus on demonstrating a clear timeframe of loan repayments and how investment is needed.

Don’t be afraid to show your business plan to someone, preferably someone with business experience although it might be a good to get a consumers point of view - so ask an honest friend or colleague for their opinions.

Executive Summary

Before sitting down to write your business plan, compose a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) for the business. Cross reference once you have written your business plan and morph it into your Executive Summary.

This is your headline page and, arguably, one of the most important pages of the whole plan; whether it is providing a ‘wow factor’ to investors or serving as your primary reference point on what you originally set out to do and how you wanted to go about it. Whether times are good or bad, you can amend your plan as you see fit; however, your executive summary is a snapshot of your dreams for the business – try to remember them!

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