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How to write a business plan

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So: you’ve got the million dollar business idea - now all you need is a plan to make the dream a reality.

This isn’t as scary and complicated as it sounds, as we discovered when we spoke to Yoodoo, a free online resource that helps people to start-up a business, who shared their top tips with us as part of our Career Clinic.

Their experts told us, "A business plan is nothing to be scared of: it's just a way for you to get your ideas and direction straight in your head. Simply answer these simple points, split into three key areas, and prepare to make your idea a success."

The Idea

- Describe your business – what are you going to do?

- Who are you going to do it for? Who are your customers going to be?

- What problem are you solving for your customers? Good businesses solve a problem. This could be something as straightforward as ‘I’m opening a café on my high street because there is currently nowhere for people to go to rest when they're shopping.’

- What are you offering customers or clients which is different? You need to be clear about why customers or clients should go to you over someone else. For example, "my cafe will be near the shops, making it convenient; and we'll serve great coffee, fast".

Marketing

- Who are your competitors? Look at similar businesses in your local area as well as online competitors. Work out what your competitors do well (and what you might copy), and also what you're going to do differently or better.

- What is the market like that you are going in to? Are there lots of competitors? Is your idea something so new that you'll have to spend time explaining to people what it is you do?

- How will you get customers to find out about you? Think about different ways of advertising and marketing - everything from word of mouth (which is free and very powerful) to leaflets or online ads.

Money

- How much money will you need to get started? Don’t spend a penny unless you have to!

- Can you obtain this money – either from friends, family, savings or the bank?

- If you need to borrow, how much will you realistically need? When will you reach your maximum borrowing requirement, and when will you have successfully paid it off?

The key when talking to the bank is to make sure that your business plan is credible. No amount of fancy printing will make dodgy numbers look good! Once you have all your answers, get them in to a logical order and make sure they’re typed up neatly. Job done.

Picture credit: Getty images

Download a copy of this business plan below

Do you have experience of starting your own business? Tell others about your highs and lows in the comments section below.

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