You can access help and advice on your business idea from a number of different agencies. Here are some you might find useful:
nbv.co.uk – for the last 30 years, NBV Enterprise Solutions has provided business support for start-ups and established businesses wishing to grow
www.gov.uk/browse/business – a national website with a wide range of information
www.llep.org.uk – a local partnership with information on advice and support in Leicester and Leicestershire
www.emc-dnl.co.uk – the chamber of commerce
www.lboro.ac.uk/studententerprise -Loughborough University Student and Graduate Enterprise
Please note: The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity does not endorse the content of any of these websites.
Creating Your Business Plan
A business plan is arguably the most important document you will create when starting up your new business. An effective business plan is simply a comprehensive statement, written down, that outlines your business and portrays a thorough plan of action.
Here at the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, we request copies of your business plans to be submitted along with your completed application form – and we only accept plans completed within our template, which is delivered to you as part of your application pack.
However, some people struggle to know what to include in their business plan – no matter how fantastic their business idea may be. Here are six quick tips to help you get your idea down on paper.
Before You Get Started
This is the point where you collate all of your detailed research, assumptions and random musings and get them written down on paper, so that you can refer to them when completing relevant sections of your business plan. Be focused; this plan is the first form in which the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity will see your business, so it’s important to ensure that your enthusiasm and attention to detail are apparent.
A business plan is a necessity, whether it’s to achieve funding or provide clear direction as you’re getting started. Although the plan may change as you’re getting started, without a business plan from the word ‘go’, your business will eventually run into trouble.
Step 1 – Describe Your Business
Say why you are starting your business and what it aims to do. How does this affect what you sell or how you sell it?
Step 2 – Products and Services
State the exact nature of products/services that you will be providing. Who are your competitors and how is your business different? Explain who your target markets are and how you will reach them.
Step 3 – Marketing/Sales: Know Your Market
Set a value on your product or services and provide detail of your customer profile. From there, evaluate what you can afford and simply what you MUST do to promote your business. How will it attract and maintain your customers/clients?
Work out what your sales will be and understand how you came to this figure.
Step 4 – Forecasts
Produce a SWOT analysis. SWOT is the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats you believe to be key to your business’ market. Simply put, these are your best and worst-case scenarios.
Step 5 – Management Team
Recognise you (and your team’s if relevant) strengths and weaknesses, and identify the areas that may require additional recruitment or outsourcing.
Step 6 – Financials
Look at the form to see what you have to provide. Make sure you consider carefully your sales and costs, and also how cash flow will be affected. Remember to consider how you will meet your living costs. Not only is this important for us at the Charity in considering your application; it is also helpful in allowing you to develop a strategy in using the funds already available to best effect.
There are many organisations that are able to provide help and advice when formulating your business plan, and can also help with feedback and direction when it comes to researching your market. Please see the top of this page for links to these organisations’ respective websites.