Whatever others may say to the contrary, a business plan should never be a work of fiction. At the end of the day, you will only be fooling yourself because lenders, for whom the fiction is usually generated, rarely lose! Here are ten headings you might use when writing or rewriting your business plan.

1. Vision — what is it that makes this business exciting and utterly irresistible to customers, suppliers and most importantly, to you?

2. Background — what has happened to you and in the world around you to make this venture the right thing for right now?

3. Goals — success will look like this: turnover, profit, customer numbers.

4. People — who is in your team and how are they perfect for the job?

5. Products — what are you going to sell and how will your products or services evolve in response to customer feedback/market change?

6. Competition — who’s already out there and how will you be different? The differences are crucially important, without knowing them you will not succeed.

7. Marketing — how are you going to communicate the benefits you offer to those you seek as customers?

8. Funding — how will you pay for it all and what can investors (if any) expect in return?

9. Measurement — as well as stoking the boiler and steering the ship, you do need to find time to check that you’re on course. How will you measure performance?

10. Jumping ship — a business, like anything else, has a natural life span. You need to plan before you start for your exit. Will you sell? Give it to your kids? What?

Taken from ‘The Entrepreneur’s Book of Checklists’ © Robert Ashton & Prentice Hall

Link to www.robertashton.co.uk

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