Why a business plan?
You may feel you just don't have the time when starting a business. However, a good business plan is a living document. It is your high-level strategic plan. 30 minutes a day for a couple of weeks and you have it done.
You won't have answers for everything and that is OK. If anything the business plan will help you to think about areas of your business you have missed. Also, by having even a rough draft, if you need to quickly go for a bank loan or get approached by an investor, you have a good starting document.
Once your business plan is done I would recommend reviewing it quarterly to assess if your business model is changing and evaluating how you are doing. A great way to refresh and refocus.
Guide to the template
The template below is a Word doc. Some of the formattings will change if you open in Google Doc's or in Pages (Mac's).
1. The cover page should always include your company logo.
2. Always have an index/table of content.
3. The order of the main headings are standard and help to shape the narrative.
4. Some areas will require more subheadings depending on your range of products and services.
5. In the company details section, it really is that simple, there is no need for loads of waffle about company values etc. That comes from a very old fashion approach. Investors and bankers what to make sure you have a clear company structure.
6. If you are a sole trader, you ignore the company related fields. However, if you are planning to go for investment, you will have to become a Limited Company.
7. There will be some overlap. If you are a tech business your operations and technology section will have some repetition, in that case, just say 'this is cover under pages xx-xx of the technology section'. Bit of common sense here.
8. Avoid tactical level detail. You can refer to other company process documents in the plan, e.g. 'the daily production schedule document is managed by the operations manager and is available upon request'.
9. A good picture/chart tells a 1000 words.
10. If the business plan is being used for regulators please note they require a large amount of additional information, therefore, make sure you work with a reputable accountant who has done this before.
You shouldn't fear a business plan. As touched upon earlier it is not supposed to be a large document and doesn't have to be 100% complete until you have to deliver to an investor/regulatory/bank etc.
Think of it as a living strategic plan that you tinker with as you grow and as a great tool to take a step back and focus on what your business needs to grow and keep customers happy.
If you are worried about grammar, spelling etc especially if presenting to an investor, engage a copywriter to help edit the final version.