How to write a business plan

“If the plan doesn’t work, then change the plan, not the goal.”

So, you’ve got an amazing idea for a business, you’ve been thinking about it for a while and have most of it mapped out in your head, but where do you go from here? A Business Plan. You’ve heard this term thrown around before, but don’t really understand what one is and how to make one, well you are in the right place.

Create the business that gives you the life you’ve always dreamed of…

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that outlines the key aims and goals of the business and how you’re going to achieve these. Outlining the marketing strategies, financial projections, and operational plans. This should entail key measurements of success and how you’re going to achieve these.

But it shouldn’t be a document you write and throw away in the draw letting it get dusty. A business plan is a living breathing document that can help keep you on track; it’s the foundation for you to create a sustainable, profitable business.

Business plans usually come in two forms, Traditional and Lean. A traditional business plan is detailed and comprehensive. Writing in-depth for each section to fully understand you and your business. A bank or investor may want to see this to evaluate your business. A lean business plan is simply a watered-down version of the full plan. It still contains all the vital information for your business, but it is much quicker to write and can get you started.

Here are the 7 steps to get you started on your business plan and turn your great idea into a reality:

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Executive summary

The first and potentially most important section is the executive summary. This is the first section that anyone will read and must be compelling. Provide a summary of your business that convinces them to read further. This section shouldn’t be too long and act as introduction to the rest of the plan.

  • What does your business do?
  • What is your business vision and goals?
  • What do you sell?
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Company description

Now you’ve explained the business, now it’s time to bring you into the equation. Often with start-ups and small businesses the owner possesses the key skill that in turn you sell as your product. This is the place to tell your reader who you are and what you plan to do? This gives the reader a great insight into why you are in business.

This is a great time to explain about your competitive advantage. What do you have that others don’t? Do you have years of experience in the market? Do you have a unique skill that not many people can do?

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Market analysis

Conducting market analysis will help you understand the market you intend to do business in. This shows an understanding of your market and the business’ industry.

In this section it’s important to define your target market. Who is your ideal customer? It’s good to have a good understanding of who your customers are. This section can be a mixture of research and experience. If you have worked in the industry for many years before going solo, you have great insight into the industry. This is the section to let your knowledge and experience come through.

  • A description of your market: Size, growth potential, trends
  • Details of your target market: Who? Where? Demographics?
  • The Market share you aim to obtain
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Management and organisation

This is where you can break down how your company is going to be run and the people involved. Outline management roles and responsibilities, the organizational structure and who is accountable for which task and department.

It’s likely if you’re a start-up or small business, you might be a one-person band. In which case this might not be vital you do to begin with, but it will be helpful when you come to recruit.

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Competitor analysis

A key area when starting your business is understanding your competitors. Understanding and defining your competition will help you focus where your business fits in the market landscape. Being able to differentiate yourself from your competitors in the marketplace will be key to your success. Think about the following:

  • Your main competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Strategies that will allow you to stand out. Expertise, accessibility, or quality for example.
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Define a marketing plan

Now you know what your product or service is, the market you’re going to be entering and the who you want to sell to. You can now strategize on how you’re going to market your product or service to your potential customers. Think about these questions:

  • How are you going to get your product/service in front of your ideal customer?
  • How do you differentiate your product/service from your competitors?
  • How does a customer buy your products or service?

Financial statements

The final and potentially most crucial section of your business plan is the financial section. This section outlines the financial position of your business in its current state or with future projections if you haven’t started yet.

The level of detail needed will vary depending on the audience this is for, but you’ll want to include three primary areas: Income Statement, balance sheet and cash-flow forecast.


Income statement

This is exactly what it sounds like, outline the revenue sources and expenses over a given period. Including income generated by your business, cost of goods, gross profit margin, operating costs, net profit before and after taxes, and total expenses.


Cashflow forecast

A cashflow forecast or statement outlines when you will receive money and when you will pay any debtors. Allowing you to have an overview of when you will be paid and when you need to pay, ensuring you always have money to cover any shortfall. It should include information as sales, receivables, total income, marketing, and all overheads.


Balance sheet

A balance sheet describes the amount of assets, liabilities, and equity in the business

Assets – short term assets such as cash, inventory, or long-term assets such as property
Liabilities – Current debts such as accounts payable and taxes and long-term such as a mortgage
Equity – This is the difference between your total assets and total liabilities, this can be important for investors to evaluate your company.

If you would like to discuss your business plan and make sure you are set up for success, book a FREE coaching session with one of our certified Business Growth Specialists and discover how to unlock your full business potential.

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Real people, real results

See how business leaders just like you have partnered with ActionCOACH NextLEVEL and used our proven tools, systems, and frameworks to achieve dramatic, sustainable personal and business growth.

Getting ActionCOACH involved in his business allowed Pete to tap into the expertise of the coach and push the business into a new direction of growth. In a short space of 6-8 weeks, Pete noticed the shift in his mindset, a better structure for the business and clarity with his figures.

Pete Wharton, Managing Director, Wharton Natural

I've learned to run a successful business rather than have a job or be an employee of my own business. I actually run the business and that staff members have noticed the difference. - Joanne Ferguson, Managing Director of CS Cleaning.

Joanne Ferguson, Managing Director, CS Cleaning

The most valuable thing I got from working with ActionCOACH is I am now a business owner, whereas I wasn't before. I was just running a business. Fiona Bates, managing director of The Printers.

Fiona Bates, Managing Director, The Printers

It's transformative and until you actually do it you don't realise how much it can benefit yourself and your business, it's not just focused on the business. - Jim Mckellar, Managing Director of Orchard View Farm.

Jim Mckellar, Managing Director, Orchard View Farm

Since working with Action Coach, Jo Maltby of Willow Brooke Day Nursery has seen gross profits increase from 750K to 1.1M! With the help of tools and strategies from ActionCOACH she has been able to hire 29 new team members and significantly reduce her working hours to prioritise family time.

Jo Maltby, Managing Director, Willow Brooke Day Nursery

You're going to see some visceral improvements in your business, there's no doubt or maybe in yourself as well. I added exercise goals to my coaching, something I've never cared about, now I'm sort of cycling regularly and doing gym stuff and this is awesome. It makes you feel really good and that feeds into the business and in your own personal life. - Joe Terrell, Managing Director of Drifted

Joe Terrell, Managing Director, Drifted

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