Writing a business plan
Your business plan is a useful tool for keeping you focussed and on track to achieve your goals. Keep it simple and adaptable so you can update it as your business grows.
The full content of your plan will depend on the industry your business will be in, but here are some of the key things which should be included to get you started.
- What your business will do
- The products or services it will provide
- How customers will access your products or services (e.g. shop, online or by phone)
- Your approach to pricing
- Your marketing and sales strategy
- Financial forecasts
For help in putting your business plan together take a look at the government website.
First things first, before you start up your own company there are a few things for you to think about. And we've provided some information here which we hope will help you on your way:
- Do your research - it's important you know your market and where you will fit in to it. Get to know who your competition is and who your customers are likely to be. Check that there's a demand for your service. Get busy on the web to do this, and if you need some inspiration, use some of the 'useful links' we've provided.
- Choose a name for your business - before you create a logo or have anything printed, make sure the name is not already in use and is available as a web address. Check your business name.
- Buy a web domain - if you're planning to have a website for your business it's a good idea to buy your web domain address as soon as possible. Before anyone else buys it.
- Register your business with Companies House - you can do this yourself or use a formation agent. You'll need to provide the name and address of the company, officer details (Director and secretary) and shareholder details. You can find out more at the Companies House website.
- Put together a business plan - this is to define exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it. For help with this, take a look at the 'business plan' section we've provided.
- You'll need to register with HM Revenue & Customs - make sure you do it within three months of becoming self-employed. If you don't, you could face a fine. You can call them on 08459 15 45 15 or register online.
- Open a business bank account - it's worth having a look around to see what's available and taking the time to check that your chosen provider offers all the products and services you're likely to need.
- Have a think about what insurance needs you might have. For instance you might need commercial insurance for a vehicles or premises or if you planning to be a landlord.
From Cash Flow to Corporation Tax and record keeping to research - find out everything every new business needs to know on the government website.
As a business owner you'll soon find you have lots to consider and manage - perhaps that's where the professionals can help you out.
- Accounting - almost essential for financial and tax advice. An accountant will also be able to advise you on the day-to-day financial matters of your business from payroll to invoicing. Ask other local businesses if they can recommend an accountant or look online.
- Health and safety - you will have a responsibility to ensure you provide a safe working environment that meets will all health and safety regulations. For more information go to the Health and Safety Executive website.
- Legal - from drawing up staff and third party contacts, structuring your business to the more unexpected and trickier legal matters, you may at some stage, need to consult an expert. A good place to start is the Law Society or Citizens Advice.
- Insurance for Business Assets and Legal Liabilities
Once you've done all the planning, you just need the money to get it all going.
- Using your own money - using your savings and the proceeds of your retirement can be a good way of financing your plans. After all, if you're not prepared to put in any money, then why should anyone else want to? If you haven't got all the money you need, the good news is, there are other avenues for you to follow.
- Government grants - whilst it can be difficult to get hold of a government grant, there are funds available for those who persevere. Find out if your business may be entitled to receive a grant.
- Banks - if you've got a good business plan you may find the banks are keen to help, hoping for a healthy future with you as your business (and its profits) grow. Speak to your bank to see how they can help - they are often a good source of business advice too.
- Friends and family.
- Other investors.
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) - offers help on choosing an accountant and provides a handy online search tool.
- British Chamber of Commerce - represents the interests of UK businesses, offering advice and support.
- Business Enterprise Support (BES) - putting you in touch with business start-up and coaching professionals.
- Citizens Advice - offering free, impartial and confidential advice on your rights and responsibilities.
- Companies House - a wide range of services for setting-up a new business and the required ongoing administration.
- Epic (Ex-Police in Industry and Commerce) - the only business networking association solely for former officers of all ranks. Offers advice, opportunities, mentoring, training, networking and much more.
- Federation of Small Businesses - a campaigning pressure group, promoting the interests of self-employed and small business owners.
- Forum of Private Business - similar to the Federation of Small Businesses, this group lobbies on behalf of small and medium sized businesses. They are a not-for-profit forum and can offer their members certain benefits, tools and expert advice.
- GOV.UK - provided by the government, this website provides business support, advice and information. Using videos, downloads and tools you'll find practical help for the day-to-day running of your business.
- HM Revenue & Customs - this is where you'll find links and guidance on what you need to do for tax and National Insurance purposes when you first start your business and all ongoing requirements.
- Institute of Small Business Affairs and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) - a network for small business owners, offering certain benefits and up-to-date information for its members.
- Law Society - an online database of solicitors, along with a helpful guide to setting up a business.
- National Enterprise Network - a not-for-profit body offering independent and impartial advice, training and mentoring to new business owners.
- Trading Standards - provides advice on the regulations specific to certain industries to ensure you are trading under the right licenses for your business. There is also a search tool to help you find your local Trading Standard office.
- UK Business Forums - an online forum allowing members to share information, ideas and resources with other UK business owners.
- UK Trade & Investment - offers helps and advice to UK businesses looking to trade overseas.
- HMRC start your own business guide - helps you to get your tax affairs right.