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Guide to writing a business plan

1) If you want to raise money for your business you will need to have a well presented, carefully researched business plan to support your request.

2) Producing a business plan also helps you to keep control of your business by allowing you to look at how your actual performance differs from your forecast performance â” and forcing you to explain the differences.

3) Preparing the plan can help you clarify your thoughts about the success or failure of your business venture. It can also help highlight in your mind the important steps which need to be taken.

4) Consider whether one plan will suffice for outsiders and inside use, or if two plans will be more helpful to you.

5) Your plan must get across to readers what is interesting about your business. Stress your management ability and demonstrate carefully the market for your product.

6) An ideal format for your plan for outside use is to have between three and ten pages of text which draw out the important points, plus a series of financial figures. Excessive detail should be confined to appendices.

7) You can get help to produce the plan from an advice agency or an accountant. It is crucial to try out your plan on someone independent before you try it out on the financiers.

8) Use the Checklist: what should be in your business plan to help you decide what should be in your business plan.

9) Your plan should be typed and neatly presented in a folder.

10) Include cash flow forecasts, profit forecasts, and possibly a balance sheet forecast. The more money you wish to raise the more detail your forecasts need to have and the greater period they should cover.