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How to get started writing a business plan

We mentioned the importance of writing a business plan in one of our previous blog posts about mapping a future for your small business.

At some point in your business life, you will need to write a business plan. A business plan is a crucial step in making your ideas a reality. It gives you an opportunity to map out what exactly you want to achieve, and how you will achieve it.

Getting started is always the hardest part. Faced with a blank piece of paper and the idea of writing down what you do now and where you want to be in the next 12 months is a fairly daunting prospect. Here are our 3 of our top tips for setting off.

How to get started writing a business plan

Start with the basics

Start with the basics. Who are you, where are you now, what do you do and where do you see yourself in the future. Consider the legal requirements for your particular business or industry (remember, as an FSB member you have access to a library of online legal information and business legal advice). Be realistic. There is no point getting carried away with something that may not be a legally or financially viable if you're completely honest.

Consider your product

Really think about what you are selling. What is it exactly that you sell, and who do you sell to? How do you get paid? Is there an opportunity to increase payment methods to keep up with the lightning speed with which technology is changing the way people conduct transactions? The FSB offer discounted card payment processing and mobile card payment terminals that could help you expand your business in a world where cash may no longer be king. Do you offer deliver? What are the terms of your business? How will you market your business or your new products or services? You may even be surprised by the floodgates that open when you really think about what you are selling.

Be prepared to adjust course

Your initial planning sessions should set a framework. A business plan is never a thing set in stone, you must be prepared to make the necessary adjustments if needed. Market fluctuations or your personal circumstances may force you to rethink what you have written down, even a few months down the line. For now, you need to consider both sides of the coin. Don't be so dead set on developing your idea that you dismiss possible hurdles. They will only catch up with you later. Consider all possibilities and adjust your plan accordingly. You may save yourself time, money and effort by writing off your initial idea and going back to the drawing board.

Growing your business will require you to think about what you do now, how you do it and if you can do it better. Writing a business plan can help you do that, even if you've been in business for many years, making it worth investing a bit of your time in it now.

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