A Business Plan can be written in any format or style you wish (you can find links to different business plan templates in the Useful links and contacts, Your business plan section of this site) however there are a number of key areas that all Business Plans seem to include:
Write this last as it should be a summary of your Business Plan. It’s probably the most important part of the document as many readers of the document will start with the Executive Summary and this will prepare them for what is to come. You must therefore ensure it captures the reader and makes them want to read further.
This section contains five parts:
Your business details
Include the name of the business, it's address and telephone number, it's history and a very brief description of what it will do
The legal structure of your business
There are a number of ways that you can legally form your business from a profit making company to a surplus making social enterprise or charitable organisation. Each has it's own characteristics. Detail what your legal structure will be and why you have chosen that option.
The business vision, aims and values
A brief summary of the purpose of your organisation and what you hope your organisation will achieve, including your vision, aims and values.
Include your name and personal information, your education and qualifications, your employment history, your current salary level, your experience and skills and what involvement you will have in the business
Details of other owners
Details of any joint owners or major shareholder or other people who may have financed the business.
What will make people buy your support service and who will want to buy your support service?
Detail what support service product(s) you are intending to provide and how you are going to provide them. Explain what the strengths of your product are and why it is different to other products. Also provide details about the market you are entering and how your product fits in that market. Finally clearly identify who your target customers are.
Describe your product in detail and how / why your product is different (your products unique selling points) from other products available and why you think people will want to buy your product.. You may also wish to briefly explain personalisation and what SDS Outcomes your product or service will cover.
Describe the 'profile' of your market (it's size, it's characteristics, levels of supply and demand). You may wish to split this and show adult services customers and non-adult services customers. Show what the trends are in the market for your product - is demand static? is there adequate supply? how have prices changed? what competition is there in the market? How easy it is or isn't to enter the market?
Describe the 'type' of people you think will want to buy your products and how many of these type of people there are in your market.. Also include your market research on what the customers are saying they want and the likely levels of customer demand. Describe not only the current situation but also what you consider will happen in the future. You may also want to show how you will attract customers from different client groups, and customers from an increasingly diverse population.
How will you let the people who may want your support service know about it?
In this section, building on the market profiling and research you have detailed in the 'Business Opportunity' section of your business plan, you need to show how many products you are going to sell this year and over the next 3-5 years. Clearly list out any 'market risks' you have identified that may have an impact on your sales targets (for example if it is likely that new competitors will enter the market) and explain what action you will take to mitigate the risk.
Detail your pricing structure and explain how you have come up with it. Show how it compares with your competitors and also do some demand and price sensitivity analysis. This is where you show what you think the demand will be (how many people will want to buy your product) at different price levels.
You will need to provide your marketing strategy which will show how you are going to market your product(s) in order that you can meet your projected sales and income expectations. This may include media coverage, promotional work or advertising. Also show how you are going to tell people (including non-adult services customers) about your product.
Now you have described your business opportunity and how you will market it, you need to be clear about how your business will actually run.
What staff will you need to deliver your support service?
Describe the skills and experiences of managers and senior staff. Also describe your HR processes and systems. You want to show that the people that are a part of your business will be able to deliver your product.
What regulations / safeguarding will you need to meet?
The safeguarding of vulnerable people is of the utmost importance in - show how will you ensure your customers and staff are safe. Also show how you will meet the range of other social care, business and other regulation you will need to follow.
Where will you deliver your service from and what equipment will you need?
You will need to show where you will run your business and also, if different, where you will deliver your business from. You will also need to show what equipment your organisation, you and your staff will need to manage and deliver your product.
What systems and processes will you need?
You will need to keep records of your business (invoices, receipts, staff records etc) and therefore need appropriate management systems (financial, business and personnel) to maintain and manage these records.
You need to include copies of your business budget, for at least the next three year period, showing whether you will be making a profit or loss over the period. Show the assumptions that you have made in putting together the forecast - show how you have identified and calculated your income and your costs.
Also include your cashflow forecast for at least the next three years, again stating all the assumptions that you have made. Detail when you expect people to pay what they owe and when you will pay what you owe. Highlight the times when you think your cashflow may be slow and explain what actions you are going to take to ensure the business will continue and not run out of cash.
Show what investment you will need to make in the business or what funding you are going to get (the source and amount) to ensure that your business can operate. Show how you will meet up front costs, for example premises and equipment, as well as how you will meet your ongoing cashflow requirements.
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