So you have a great idea for your business and you're ready to get going. But your idea is rarely enough; a successful business requires you to get to grips with all areas of a company's responsibilities. You need to understand and plan for every aspect of your new venture, and a small business plan will help you do this.
When starting your own business, business planning will also help when you contact a bank for financial services. When you go to open a business bank account, apply for finance or look at other services, the provider may ask to see a small business plan. It wants to see proof that you have thought your idea through, that you understand the risks and responsibilities and that you have a strategy in place to pay for your commitments.
This means one of the purposes of the plan is to convince outside organisations that your business is a strong prospect. But this can also work in your favour – understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your operation will help you to focus on the areas you need to concentrate on. And setting down your plans on paper gives you the opportunity to work out how to progress.
So what should go in to a small business plan? You'll get different advice depending on who you ask, and the type of business you want to set up will also have an influence. But there are some key details you need to include:
Your business: Your plan should clearly state what the business will do, the products or services it will provide, how you will provide those products and services to customers, and how your offering will be priced.
Your customers: No matter what business you are going into, it's likely to be a competitive environment, so understanding who your customers will be is absolutely crucial. Are they consumers or other businesses? What do they do for a living? Do they already buy a product or service similar to the one you'll be offering? How will they hear about your business? And how will you tell them about your business, and encourage them to buy from you rather than other providers?
Your finances: Most businesses will require cash to get up and running, and you need to explain where that money will come from and – if it's coming in the form of a business loan – how it will be repaid. You'll also need to show your expectations of revenues and expenses, and how you'll manage cashflow. If you're looking at using other financial services, it's worth explaining what you will use them for and how you are a good prospect for the provider.
Your business name: The name of your business is important. You need to consider the image projected by the name, and the need to identify your brand, and ultimately, you and your product or service with a suitable name that projects the right impression.
Is it easy to pronounce and spell? Does it reflect well on the products and services you provide? Are there any other businesses with similar names that may confuse your customers? And, in this day and age, it's vital to know if the name is available as a web address.
Your staff: Not all businesses need to hire people, but if you do, you need to demonstrate that you understand the laws relating to employment. It's also worth explaining how you will get the best out of your staff – how to motivate them to be more productive and incentivise them to bring in extra revenue for your company.
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail banking (basic bank accounts and online savings accounts), credit cards, corporate banking, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services, with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 140,000 people. Barclays moves, invests and protects money and provides loans, business accounts, and other services for over 49 million customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website www.barclays.co.uk.
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