What’s a business without a business plan?

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In the latest UK200Group blog post, Martin Williams, Partner at George Hay Chartered Accountants discusses the importance of having a business plan.

Martin Williams
A business plan is a valuable tool for any business, whether just setting up, finding their feet or already fully fledged.
Each year around 400, 000 new businesses start-up in the UK but, astonishingly, one in three of these will cease trading within three years and after ten years, only one in five are still operating.
Building a successful business, we believe, is much more achievable if you lay firm foundations in the beginning. So, what better way to start than by putting together a good business plan, that protects your assets and helps you to stay profitable?

What is a business plan and why should I have one?
A business plan, simply put, is a document that defines your business in terms of your objectives, strategies, ideas for marketing and promotion, and financial forecasts.
Aside from helping you to make better business decisions, to understand how your business is performing and to better adapt as your circumstances change, there are a number of other reasons why you should prioritise writing a business plan – for example:
• A business plan can help you to secure investment from banks and lenders;
• it can help you to engage customers, suppliers and employees and win their support;
• and it can facilitate the sale of a business, should you wish to sell-up at one time or another, further down the line.
Business planning should be an unending and flexible activity and so your business plan should be a ‘living document’ that captures the past, present and future and one that you refer to regularly to ensure you’re on track.

The benefits of a business plan
There are various advantages to having a business plan, but what they all boil down to is one overarching benefit; that is, having access to the information you need to be able to manage your business more effectively. You will undoubtedly benefit from:
• Having a clear idea of what your business/service or product is;
• the ability to quickly detect any potential pitfalls or problems within the business;
• knowing, from the outset, what your goals and priorities are;
• as well as being able to track the progress and performance of your business and make changes as your circumstances evolve.

A recipe for a good business plan…
So now you know why you should have one, but what exactly makes a good business plan? Generally speaking, your business plan will be off to a good start if it is:
1. Realistic – ensure your business goals and expectations are realistic. If you’re vying for people’s support your plan should be exciting but, more importantly, viable.
2. Succinct – your business plan must capture people’s attention and communicate clearly what your business is about, what your objectives are and how you intend to meet these.
3. Professional – the presentation of your business plan does not have to be fancy, but it should be professional. Don’t be afraid to tailor your plan to suit your audience.

What should a business plan cover?
A comprehensive business plan typically covers the following:
• The business/product
• The market and competitors
• Marketing, promotion and sales
• Management and personnel
• Operations (premises/IT)
• Financial forecasts/analysis

How can an Accountant help?
We have many years of experience working with businesses of all sizes and across a range of industries. No matter how big or small, or what field you find yourself in, we can assist you with the preparation and implementation of an effective business plan.
Whether it’s examining your figures, evaluating your profit potential, assisting with budgeting and forecasting, or advising you on the most appropriate business structure and talking you through the tax implications of this, we have experts on hand to support you every step of the way.
To explore how we might be able to help you and your business, take a look around our website, or contact us today to speak to one of our team.

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