Your Business Plan
Writing a business plan
A business plan is more than just a tool for raising finance. Writing a business plan is a vital first step when starting a business, in order to set out your proposition, your market, customers and competitors. The business planning process will give you a feel for the various elements that will determine your success, from cash flow, to sales forecasting to your personnel structure.
A good business plan will let you structure your finances efficiently, show potential investors the strength of your business, and focus your efforts on developing your business. Typically a business plan has a three-year forecast which acts as a roadmap for your future growth.
A business plan isn’t written once; it’s a living document that you return to periodically to help you spot potential pitfalls before they happen.
A business plan should contain your overall vision for the business, its objectives, the marketplace, its funding, people and products, as well as any additional elements that are specific to your marketplace.
Free business plan guides
- How to write a business plan (Gov.uk)
- Business plan advice and guide (ICAEW)
- Writing a business plan (Start Up Donut)
- Writing a business plan (FSB)
Free business plan templates
If you need help refining your business plan, contact Oxfordshire Business Enterprises (OBE), who can offer free advice for those in the early stages of starting a business in Oxfordshire.
Research the marketplace and your competitors
Your market will depend on what type of business you're looking to start. If you will operate from a physical premises then location is crucial; if you will operate online then an understanding on how people interact across digital channels is paramount.
There are various things you will need to consider when researching your target market:
- Is your product or service for consumers or other businesses?
- Is it for a certain age group or gender demographic?
You should also research your competitor's customers. Your competitors will be offering them a product or service that is the same or very similar to your own, which means they may become your customers too. Researching your competitors can ensure that you learn from their successes and avoid any mistakes they have made.
Watch the video below for guidance on how to conduct market research.