Writing a Business Plan

General Guidelines

  • Remember that the most important reason for preparing a business plan is to establish for yourself the viability and future development of your business proposal.
  • A business plan is a common sense document. Avoid jargon and keep to the point.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. The best sources of information are people already in business. Talk to your suppliers and to your potential customers. Have a look at what your competitors are doing.
  • Be realistic. Financial projections should err on the side of caution.
  • A business plan doesn't have to be a long document. A good business plan is one that explains succinctly and clearly to the potential lender or investor how the business proposal will succeed.

Typically, a good business plan will include information on the following:

Introduction / Executive Summary

  • Business structure and ownership.
  • The business idea.
  • Brief overview of the business.
  • What have you done with the business to date?
  • What are your short term and long term objectives for the business?

Promoter's Background

  • Personal details.
  • Practical and professional experience.
  • Motivation.
  • Personal qualities.
  • Include CVs of the Principals involved in the business (in the Appendix)
  • Describe any business courses which the promoters have attended.

Description of Proposed Business

  • Describe the product or service.
  • Are there unique features?
  • If a product, describe the production process involved and the availability of raw materials.
  • What specific need/requirement will the business serve. Are there any innovative aspects to the project?
  • What are the aims and objectives of the business?

Structure of the Business

  • Specify the legal status and business name under which the business will trade.
  • Specify any requirements needed under any statute or regulation, e.g. planning permission, health and safety, food safety, etc.

Management Structure / Staffing

  • Describe how the business will be managed and staffed.
  • Highlight any particular staffing skills involved in the business.
  • Describe present employment (if any), projected increase in first year and projected increase in second year of operation.

The Market

  • Describe any market research which you may have carried out.
  • Describe the competition in the target market.
  • Describe your proposed marketing strategy and how the product or service will be distributed and sold.
  • Who are your customers and what are their needs?
  • What are the future trends in the market for your product or service?
  • How have you arrived at the prices for your product/service?

Operations

  • Submit details of premises required.
  • List machinery and equipment required including cost of each item.
  • How will your product/service be produced and delivered?
  • What are your production/output targets?
  • Describe jobs that each employee will carry out.
  • Other requirements, e.g. special storage facilities.

Investment & Financing

  • Prepare a schedule showing the finance needed to start the business. Show the working capital requirement separately.
  • What funding is available? Own resources, bank loans/overdraft, private investor, grants, etc.
  • Prepare monthly Cashflow Projections for the first two years.
  • Prepare two year Profit and Loss projections and Balance Sheets.
  • Describe the assumptions made in your projections, e.g. credit terms for suppliers.
  • If already in business submit recent set of audited accounts.

Conclusion

  • Why do you think the business will be a success?
  • What supports are you seeking?
  • Why do you need the support?
  • Why should you get the support?

Additional Information

  • Quotations for building works, machinery and equipment (if applying for a capital grant).
  • Letters of approval from lending institutions.
  • Letters of intent from prospective customers (if possible).
  • Any other material which might help explain your business, e.g. photographs, brochures, samples of product, etc.

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