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Writing a Business Plan

how to write a business plan uk

While it may be tempting to put off, creating a business plan is an essential part of starting your own business. Plans and proposals should be put in a clear format making it easy for potential investors to understand. Because every company has a different goal and product or service to offer, there are business plan templates readily available to help you get on the right track. Many of these templates can be adapted for any company. In general, a business plan writing guide will recommend that the following sections be incorporated into your plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section that business plans open with, but is often the last section to actually be written as it’s the most difficult to write. The executive summary is a summary of the overall plan that highlights the key points and gives the reader an idea of what lies ahead in the document. It should include areas such as the business opportunity, target market, marketing and sales strategy, competition, the summary of the financial plan, staff members and a summary of how the plan will be implemented. This section needs to be extremely clear, concise and engaging as you don’t want the reader to push your hard work aside.

Company Description

The company description follows the executive summary and should cover all the details about the company itself. For example, if you are writing a business plan for an internet café, you would want to include the name of the company, where the café would be located, who the main team members involved are and why, how large the company is, who the target market for the internet cafe is, what type of business structure the café is, such as LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, what the internet café business mission and vision statements are, and what the business’s short-term objectives are.

Services and Products

This is the exciting part of the plan where you get to explain what new and improved services or products you are offering. On top of describing the product or service itself, include in the plan what is currently in the market in this area, what problems there are in this area and how your product is the solution. For example, in a business plan for a food truck, perhaps there are numerous other food trucks in the area, but they are all fast –food style and unhealthy so, you want to introduce fast food that serves only organic and fresh ingredients every day. This is where you can also list your price points and future products or services you anticipate.

Market Analysis

The market analysis section will take time to write and research as a lot of effort and research need to go into it. Here is where you have the opportunity to describe what trends are showing up, what the growth rate in this sector looks like, what the current size of this industry is and who your target audience is. A cleaning business plan, for example, may include how this sector has been growing by 10% every year due to an increase in large businesses being built in the city.

Organization and Management

Marketing and sales are the part of the business plan where you explain how you will attract and retain clients. How are you reaching your target customers and what incentives do you offer that will keep them coming back? For a dry cleaner business plan, perhaps if they refer customers, they will get 10% off their next visit. In addition, you may want to explain what needs to be done in order for the business to be profitable. This is a great way of showing that you are conscious about what clear steps need to be taken to make a business successful.

Financial Projections & Appendix

The financial business plan section can be a tricky one to write as it is based on projections. Usually what is included is the short-term projection, which is a year broken down by month and should include start-up permits, equipment, and licenses that are required. This is followed by a three-year projection broken down by year and many often write a five-year projection, but this does not need to be included in the business plan.

The appendix is the last section and contains all the supporting documents and/or required material. This often includes resumes of those involved in the company, letters of reference, product pictures and credit histories. Keep in mind that your business plan is always in development and should be adjusted regularly as your business grows and changes.


how to write a business plan uk

Your Guide to Writing a Business Plan

how to write a business plan uk

If you’re starting a new business, then you need an effective plan. Not only does this enable you to plan your company, but it also gives potential clients an insight into how your business works. A business plan is also vital if you want to attract investors or secure a loan from the bank. Drafting a business plan is a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will ensure you create a definite plan to impress investors and clients. 

When creating your business plan, there are some essential elements you must include. The Executive Summary provides a description of your business, and what you hope to achieve. People usually write at least one page, but leave their Executive Summary until last.

You’ll also need to detail what your business offers and define your target audience. This makes it easier for people to see whether your company has a chance of succeeding. The opportunity section is also an excellent way for you to see what competitors offer and how you can create a USP to stand out from the competition. 

Appealing to Investors

Every business that wants growth and prosperity must ensure they promote themselves to potential investors. Business plans aren’t just about what the business is, but who is part of it too. Detail your current team members and explain what they bring to the company. Investors want to know they’re making a wise investment.

Your current finances and financial forecast are also essential aspects of your business plan. Look at your products, how much you’re selling them for and what kind of profit margin you expect to gain. It’s also vital you detail your outgoings and look at how various economic situations could affect your finances. 

Writing a Winning Executive Summary

There are problems in every market, and a successful business solves that problem. If you can show how you’ll be able to offer solutions in your business plan, you’ll appeal to investors. Choose your target audience based on research and ensure you show your research. There are many ways to conduct market research including defining SOMs, SAMs and TAMs. 

TAM stands for Total Available Market and comprises everyone you want your product to reach. Your Segmented Addressable Market (SAM) is a specific portion of the market you’ll target. This is important because it shows you’re able to direct your product at the right people and not just everyone. Your SOM (Share of the Market) is what you feel you’ll gain with your product.  

How to Determine Pricing

Pricing your product is one of the most challenging things you’ll have to do. There are many things to consider, such as how much it’s worth and making sure you don’t charge unrealistically. Many new businesses believe undercharging is the best way to go, but doing this can undermine your company’s authority and cause fewer people to be interested in investing.

Market-based pricing involves looking at your competitors and evaluating their prices. Which company has the most customers? How does their pricing match others? These are all vital aspects you should consider. Remember, customers expect quality and a fair price, so make sure you combine the two. 

Future Goals

Investors and banks want to know that you’ve considered what the future will hold for your company. When you write your business plan, be sure to take into account how you see the company growing, what you’ll do to ensure it thrives and that you understand the potential risks. Banks and investors want to know that you can build a business and are aware of the obstacles you’ll have to overcome.

Starting your own business doesn’t have to be difficult. If you ensure you produce a robust business plan, it can be an exciting process. Your business is part of your future, so start by outlining your goals and look forward to seeing results. 


how to write a business plan uk

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how to write a business plan uk

Write a business plan

Download free business plan templates and find help and advice on how to write your business plan.

Business plan templates

Download a free business plan template on The Prince’s Trust website.

You can also download a free cash flow forecast template or a business plan template on the Start Up Loans website to help you manage your finances.

Business plan examples

Read example business plans on the Bplans website.

How to write a business plan

Get detailed information about how to write a business plan on the Start Up Donut website.

Why you need a business plan

A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.

A business plan helps you to:

You’ll need a business plan if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank. Read about the finance options available for businesses on the Business Finance Guide website.

It can also help to convince customers, suppliers and potential employees to support you.

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What do you need to know about starting a business?

Advice on protecting your wellbeing, self-confidence and mental health from the pressures of starting and running a business.

Essential guide to writing a business plan

A group of people working on a business plan

Your business plan outlines what your business does and what you are trying to achieve. It explains what the market opportunity is, what makes your business special and how you will make it a success.

Writing a business plan helps you:

Why write a business plan?

How to write a business plan

Business and products

Market and competition

Marketing and sales

Management and personnel

Financial performance

SWOT analysis

1. Why write a business plan?

Writing a business plan helps you think about what you are doing.

You may need a plan to explain your business to other people

2. How to write a business plan

Base your business plan on detailed information where possible. But do not include all the detail in the plan. Leave the detail for operational or marketing plans.

Keep the plan short

Include any detailed information you need in an appendix

For example, you might want:

Base your business plan on reality, or it may be counterproductive

Make the plan professional

Even if the plan is for internal use only, write it as if it were aimed at an outsider

Review your business plan

Get ready to grow your start up

Do you have ambitions to grow your business in 2023? Are you looking for advice on the best ways to scale up your business or guidance on how to fund your growth plans?

Covering everything from accessing the right tech to funding growth, our new guide will help you achieve your ambitions in 2023.


3. Your business and products

Explain the history of the business.

Describe what your product or service is, avoiding technical jargon if possible

Explain any key features of the industry

4. Your market and competition

Describe the market in which you sell.

Describe the nature and distribution of existing customers

Outline the main competition

5. Your marketing and sales strategy

Where do you position your product or service in the market.

What is your pricing policy?

How do you promote your product or service?

What sales channels do you use to reach your target customers?

How do you do your selling?

Sell more to existing customers

Customer relationship management systems (CRMs) record customers' preferences, spending patterns and demographics, allowing you to build a detailed picture of their tastes, needs and buying habits so you can target then with tailored messages and offers.

Looking for CRM software? Take a look below at some CRM software options for small businesses*.

6. Management and personnel structure

Set out the structure and key skills of the management team and the staff.

Analyse the workforce in terms of total numbers and by department

Be realistic about the commitment and motivation of the workforce

7. Your business operations

Look at the capacity and efficiency of your operations, and the planned improvements.

What premises does the business have?

What production facilities do you have and how is production organised?

What management information systems are in place?

Are your IT systems reliable?

What quality or regulatory standards does the business conform to?

8. Financial forecasts

Your financial forecasts translate what you have said about your business into numbers.

Set out historical financial information for the last three to five years, if available

Provide forecasts for the next three (or even five) years

Put detailed financial forecasts in an appendix at the end

Include a detailed list of assumptions. For example:

Use the cash flow forecast to predict any financing requirements

If necessary, get help

9. SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis helps show that you really understand your business and the key external factors that you need to deal with.

Set out a one-page analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Be honest about your weaknesses and the threats you face

Driving your business forward

Identify what makes you better than the competition.

Establish your overall business aims

Decide on half a dozen key objectives that will make a significant difference

Many businesses think in terms of:

Set clear targets

Work out how you will reach these targets

Business plan written on paper that is pinned to a messy cork board

Browse topics: Business planning

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Business plans

If you’re thinking about setting up your own company, getting your business plan right is crucial. Check out our top tips on how to write a business plan. 

A business plan gives an outline of your business, the market in which it will operate and how it aims to make money - and should answer this question: why will your business succeed when so many others fail?

We can help you answer this during our Enterprise programme, which provides you with the skills, tools and confidence you need to become your own boss. But, there's no reason why you can't start crafting your business plan today. 

Apply for our Enterprise programme today . 

It’s really important that potential investors can understand what your business is all about from a quick glance at your plan. Make sure you include a summary of your business, and how it will make money right from the start, and use simple language throughout.

Be specific

Being specific is just as important as being concise. The details will help you drill down into how you will actually deliver your plan.

Know your market

A big part of knowing whether your business will be successful is understanding your audience. Make sure your plan is clear about your target market – who will you be selling to and how many other companies are already selling similar products?

Know your finances

The other essential part of a business plan is the finance section. If your business isn’t going to make any money, it won’t be successful so you need to be very clear on how you will make a profit. Use it to your advantage  – y our plan will be incredibly useful when it comes to securing loans and investment, but that’s not its only use. It’s also a personal tool to help you understand your objectives.

Did you know that we can give you access to start-up funding support with low interest personal loans for business purposes, from £500 to £25,000, offered through the Start Up Loans Company, our business support partner?  A Start Up Loan is a personal loan for business purposes for a term of 1 to 5 years at a fixed rate of 6% per annum. Applicants must be aged 18 or over at the time of the application. Please note that a credit check will be carried out as part of your application.

We also offer small start-up business grants in special circumstances. Please note, failure to meet loan repayments may affect your credit score.

The Prince's Trust is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 718625) and is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office: Z5724362.

The Prince’s Trust is a credit broker, not a lender. We can introduce you to a limited number of finance providers who may be able to offer you finance facilities. We will only introduce you to these finance providers. We may receive an administration fee from the finance provider if you decide to enter into an agreement with them.  The nature of this administration fee is as follows: we receive a fixed fee per finance agreement entered into. You can request for us to disclose the amount of any administration fee received.

Don't try and do everything on your own, join our Enterprise programme today .

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Free Simple Business Plan Template

Helena Young

Our experts

Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers.

Got a brilliant idea for a new business? Then congratulations, the hardest part is over. Now comes the most crucial: putting it down on paper.

Your business plan is the document that adds structure to your proposal and helps you focus your objectives on an achievable and realistic target. It should cover every aspect of what your business journey will look like, from licensing and revenue, to competitor and sector analysis.

Writing a business plan doesn't need to be a difficult process, but it should take at least a month to be done properly.

In today's capricious business climate there's a lot to consider, such as the impact of political challenges like Brexit. These details are especially important in today's bad economy. Investors are looking for entrepreneurs who are aware of the challenges ahead and how to properly plan for them.

Below, you'll find everything you need to create a concise, specific and authoritative business plan. So let's get started turning your idea into a reality!

Our below guide will give you detailed advice on how to write a quality business plan. But first, you need to know what to include – and that's where a high quality template can help. business plan template

We recommend creating an account with monday to use this template – doing so means you can start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot.

What to include in your business plan template

There's a lot of information online about how to write a business plan – making it a confusing task to work out what is and isn't good advice.

We're here to cut through the noise by telling you exactly what you need to include for a business plan that will satisfy stakeholders and help develop a key identity for your brand. By the end, you'll have a plan to make even Alan Sugar proud and can get started with the most exciting part – running your business.

Throughout this guide, we've featured an example business plan template for a new restaurant opening in Birmingham called ‘The Plew'. In each section, you'll be able to see what the contents we're describing would look like in a ‘real-life' document.

Cover Page

What to include in your business plan:

1. Executive summary

This section is a summary of your entire business plan. Because of this, it is a good idea to write it at the end of your plan, not the beginning.

Just as with the overall business plan, the executive summary should be clearly written and powerfully persuasive, yet it should balance sales talk with realism in order to be convincing. It should be no more than 1,000 words.

It should cover:

It sounds like a lot – but don't feel you have to spend hours putting this together. Here's what the above information for an executive summary might look like when put into our example business plan template for ‘The Plew':

Example of an executive summary in a business plan for a Birmingham restaurant called 'The Plew'

Startups' business plan template example: executive summary

2. Personal summary

Investors want to know who they're investing in, as much as what. This is where you tell people who you are, and why you're starting your business.

Outline your general contact details first, giving your telephone number, email address, website or portfolio, and any professional social media profiles you might have.

Run through this checklist to tell the reader more about yourself, and put your business ambitions into context.

Here's what our two fictional co-founders of ‘The Plew' might write in their personal summaries for our example business plan. CEO Gabrielle Shelby, has highlighted her expertise in the restaurant industry, while CFO Freya Moore outlines her accounting and finance knowledge.

Example of a personal summary in a business plan for a Birmingham restaurant called 'The Plew'

Startups' business plan template example: personal summary

Richard Osborne, founder and CEO of UK Business Forums, says personality is important in a business plan.

“Having a strong, personal reason at the heart of your business model will help keep you going and give you the motivation to carry on,” he affirms.

3. Business idea

This section is essentially to offer a general outline of what your business idea is, and why it brings something new to the market.

Here, you should include your general company details, such as your business name and a  one-line summary of your business idea known as an  elevator pitch. This section should also list a few key business objectives to show how you plan to scale over the next 1-3 years.

We also recommend carrying out a SWOT analysis to tell investors what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are for your business idea. Think about:

In the template below, you can see a breakdown of the above information for ‘The Plew'. At the top is its mission statement: “to craft an unforgettable dining experience in a chic atmosphere.”

Example of a business description in a business plan for a Birmingham restaurant called 'The Plew'

Startups' business plan template example: business idea

Need a business idea? We've crunched the numbers and come up with a list of the best business ideas for startup success in 2023 based on today's most popular and growing industries.

4. Your products or services

Now it's time to explain what you are selling to customers and how will you produce your sales offering.

Use this section to answer all of the below questions and explain what you plan to sell and how. Just like your business idea outline, your answers should be concise and declarative.

What insurance and licensing requirements do you need to consider?

Depending on what your business offers, you might need to invest in insurance or licensing. Our How To Start guides have more details about sector-specific insurance or licensing.

Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, and Employers' Liability are the most well-known types of business insurance. We've listed some other common other licensing and insurance requirements below:

In our example product/service page for ‘The Plew”s business plan, the founders choose to separate this information into multiple pages. Below, they outline their cost and pricing, as well as sales strategy. But they also include an example menu, to offer something a bit more unique and tantalising to the reader:

Example of an product / service page in a business plan for a Birmingham restaurant called 'The Plew'

Startups' business plan template example: product list and pricing strategy

5. Market analysis

This section demonstrates your understanding of the market you are entering, and any challenges you will likely face when trying to establish your company.

This section pulls all of your target market and customer research together to indicate to stakeholders that you are knowledgable about the sector and how to succeed in it.

What is your marketing strategy?

Once you've highlighted who your rivals are in the market, you can provide details on how you plan to stand out from them through your marketing strategy. Outline your  business' USP, your current marketing strategy, and any associated advertising costs.

‘The Plew' identifies its target audience as young, adventurous people in their mid-30s. Because of the restaurant's premium service offering, its audience works in a well-paid sector like tech:

Startups' example: market analysis in a business plan

Startups' business plan template example: customer analysis

6. Competitor analysis

This section demonstrates how well you know the key players and rivals in the industry. It should show the research you have carried out in a table format.

Begin by listing the key information about your competitors. Don't worry about sounding too critical, or too positive. Try to prioritise accuracy above all else.

Competitors will take two forms, either direct  or  indirect. Direct competitors sell the same or similar products or services. Indirect competitors sell substitute or alternative products or services.

Here's a breakdown of the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and threats presented by a competitor restaurant for ‘The Plew' called Eateria 24. At the bottom, the founders have written what learnings they can take from the chart.

Startups' example: competitor analysis in a business plan

Startups' business plan template example: competitor analysis

Check out our list of the top competitor analysis templates to download free resources for your business, plus advice on what to include and how to get started.

7. Cash forecast

Outline your financial outlook including how much you expect to spend, and make, in your first year

All of your considered costs can be put into one easy-to-read document called a monthly cash forecast. Cash forecasts contain:

1. Incoming costs such as sales revenue, customer account fees, or funding.

2. Outgoing costs such as staff wages or operating expenses. The latter can cover everything from advertising costs to office supplies.

For those firms which have already started trading, include any previous year's accounts (up to three years) as well as details of any outstanding loans or assets.

Annual cash forecast: what is it?

By conducting 12 monthly cash forecasts, you can create an annual cash forecast to work out when your company will become profitable (also known as breakeven analysis) . You will break even when total incoming costs = total outgoing costs.

In your annual cost budget, make sure to also include month opening/closing balance.  This is important to monitor for accounting, particularly for year-end.

The opening balance of any month will always be the same as the closing balance of the previous month. If you are repeatedly opening months with a negative closing balance, you need to adjust your spending. Here's an example of what ‘The Plew's financials might look like in its first year of operation:

Example of an cash forecast in a business plan for a Birmingham restaurant called 'The Plew'

Startups' business plan template example: cash forecast

8. Operations and logistics

Explain how your day-to-day business activities will be run, including key business partnerships around production and delivery.

A.) Production

List all of the behind the scenes information about how your business will operate. Include:

B.) Delivery

Detail how your customers will receive your product or service. Include:

C.) Supplier analysis

Lastly, you should carry out a supplier analysis.  Write down 2-3 suppliers you plan to use as part of your business operations and evaluate them on factors like location and pricing.

In our example business plan for ‘The Plew', the founders have chosen to present this information in an easily-digestible chart, breaking down the leadership and employees into two different areas: product development and operations.

Example of a page showing staffing information in a business plan for a Birmingham restaurant called 'The Plew'

Startups' business plan template example: staffing section

9. Backup plan

Explain how you will manage any surprise losses if your cash forecast does not go to plan.

In the event that your business does not go to plan, there will be costs to incur. A backup plan outlines to potential investors how you will pay back any outstanding loans or debt.

In the short-term: 

If your cash-flow temporarily stalls, what steps could you take to quickly raise money or make savings? For example, by negotiating shorter payment terms with your customers.

In the long-term:

If you've noticed a drop in sales that seems to be persisting, what changes can you make that would improve cash flow longer term? For example, can you do more of your business online to reduce rent fees?

To placate investors even further, it's a good idea to include details about potential support channels you can utilise (eg. a business network or contact) who might be able to help if you get caught in a sticky cash-flow situation.

Startups' 5 top tips for writing a business plan

Now that you're up to speed on everything a business plan needs to include, we recommend using the free business plan template to jot down your ideas.

At, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have practical resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – use the tool below to get started today.

What Does Your Business Need Help With?

Designing a business plan is very important for laying the foundation of your business. Ensure you spend an appropriate amount of time filling it out, as it could save you many headaches further down the line.

Once your plan is complete, you'll then be ready to look at other aspects of business set-up, such as registering your company. Sound daunting? Don't worry!

Our experts have pulled together a simple, comprehensive guide on How to Start a Business in 2023, which will tell you everything you need to know to put your new plan into action. is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.

Written by:

Helena Young

Helena is a Senior Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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how to write a business plan uk

Business Plan template

What is a business plan.

A Business Plan is a written document that describes your core business objectives and how you plan to achieve them over a set period of time. It is designed to help you, and others, understand how you plan to generate money and make your business sustainable. A Business Plan often includes information about your goals, strategies, marketing and sales plans and financial forecasts. Read on below for more information about the key sections of a Business Plan.

Download your copy of the Business Plan template now. The document includes a Personal Survival Budget template and a Cash Flow Forecast template, which are also required for your application:

The guide is an annotated version of the Business Plan template with notes from our Business Advisers about what type of information, examples and evidence to include in order to help us understand you and your business. While we encourage you to use this Business Plan template, it is not mandatory and you are welcome to submit your own Business Plan template provided it details similar information.

Please note, the following documents should open on any device with a document viewer and editor but for the best user experience, we recommend editing this Business Plan template on a desktop.

Why is a Business Plan important?  

There are many great reasons why it is worth your time creating a Business Plan – even if you’re not quite ready to apply for a Start Up Loan. Here are just seven:

A Business Plan:

Key sections of a Business Plan:  

A Business Plan can include whatever information you feel is required to best convey how you are planning to make your business sustainable and, when it comes to applying for a Start Up Loan, the following are the core sections we require.

Your business and key objectives: A brief description of your business and its core products or services. This section also includes a clear and concise overview of the goals your business is trying to achieve over a set period of time. Sometimes these are broken down as short, mid and long-term goals, but it helps if they’re measurable (how will you know if you have achieved this?) and realistic (can you achieve this with the money, resources and time you have?).  

If you are applying for a Start Up Loan, you will of course also need to detail how you intend to use the money if you’re successful. Our Loan Assessment team will want to see that the Start Up Loan will support your overall business objectives.

Your skills and experience: An overview of your experience as it relates to your business. If you’ve previously worked in a similar business, or have experience running another business, this will help provide confidence that you are in a good position to start up. Even if this is all brand new to you, think about any transferable skills you’ve developed, life experiences you’ve had or training you’ve completed that may be useful.

Your target customers, market and competition: A summary of key insights that demonstrate you have a strong understanding of your customers (and how to identify them), your market (and how to position yourself within it) and your competitors (and how to differentiate yourself from them on factors like price, quality, brand etc).  

Your sales and marketing plans: This section is all about how you are planning to attract customers. You might include information about where you’ll distribute your products, what your branding and logo will be and what pricing you’ll apply. Additionally, you will need to demonstrate how you will spread the word about your product/services in order to generate demand, such as using social media, exhibiting at a trade conference or investing in online advertising.

Your operational plans: This will be different depending on your business model, but may include information on where you’ll trade (like a home office or external premises), the number of staff you’ll need to employ, what their roles will be and any equipment or tools you’ll need to run your business. You can also use this section to detail any processes that are important to your operations, as well as any industry, tax or legal regulations related to your business. It’s also good to think about any risks you may face, how you will overcome them and what you will do if things don’t go to plan.

Financials Many business plans include a financial section, which outlines how you’ll fund all of the activities you’ve outlined and what revenue you expect to generate. Because we ask you to complete a Cash Flow Forecast as part of your Start Up Loan application, we don’t require too much detail on this in your Business Plan. Rather, these two documents should be complementary.

Check out our Cash Flow Forecast guide and template >>

Writing a Business Plan – our top tips:

The tips below have been prepared by our Business Advisers and Loan Assessment team to help you understand some of the key things that will strengthen your application. For more in-depth advice, read our guidelines on how to write a Business Plan .

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A Business Plan can include whatever information you feel is required to best convey how you are planning to make your business sustainable and, when it comes to applying for a Start Up Loan, the following are the core sections we require (our Business Plan template includes them).

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Writing a business plan

Your guide to a successful business plan

A good business plan defines what you want to achieve and how you intend to achieve it. Our guide could help you write yours.

Define your business

It’s important that you define what type of small business you are so that everyone you work with understands what you’re trying to achieve. A comprehensive business plan is the best way to go about defining your business.

Your plan should include:

Know your customers

Make sure you know as much as possible about who will be buying from you. For example, if you’re marketing to consumers, here are some questions you might want to ask. Knowing the answers will help you promote your business much more effectively:

Naming your business

The name you choose for your business should reflect the image you want to project to your market. Pick one that’s easy to pronounce and remember, but do some research first. Make sure your chosen name is not already in use, it’s available as a web address and will work on your business stationery. You may also consider looking into the name’s meaning in different countries and languages – especially if you see yourself expanding internationally in the future.

If you have the facilities, you could test various names to see how people from your proposed customer base react. There are companies that provide this service, or you could do it informally by asking friends and family.

Taking on staff

If you take on employees – even part-time – you’ll need to familiarise yourself with employment law and know how to get the best out of your staff. There are plenty of guides that will help you to understand the law and make decisions to suit your business, such as the number of employees you need, what you should offer them and if they will be contractors or permanent. Here are some key things to consider:

Writing it all down

When you write your business plan, remember to be clear, realistic and concise. It’s important to consider that someone reading it in the future might not be familiar with jargon or more technical terms, so writing it in plain English is advisable. You should use research and, if possible, evidence, to support your conclusions and include an action plan. Nothing needs to be set in stone, however; business plans are dynamic documents – meaning that you should adjust your plan as your business develops. See our in-depth guide to writing a business plan  [PDF, 6.2MB]

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Important information

The Step-By-Step Guide Of How To Write A Business Plan

How To Write A Business Plan: Step-By-Step Guide

You may have plenty of great ideas, but understanding how to write a business plan is essential if you want to grow your business, gain funding, and more. .

Yet, a lot of startups don’t take the time to make one or don’t often see the advantage that they can bring. 

Those with a business plan grew an average of 30% faster than those that didn’t. What’s more, they were 2x more likely to get investments or secure loans than those without. 

Ready to learn how to write a business plan? We’ve got the step-by-step instructions you need to write a business plan that works. 

Let’s get started. 

What is a business plan?

Before we dive into the details of writing a business plan, let’s just recap what one is. 

A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It may not sound like a lot, but it’s an in-depth guide to who you are, what you do, and how your business works. It’s useful for every business, whether you’re registered as a sole trader or limited company. 

A business plan covers all different subjects, such as: 

Fundamentally, a business plan is there to clarify what your business is, set out your goals, spot any potential problems and set yourself up to grow. 

Why do I need a business plan? 

The most common reason why you need a business plan is to ask for investment.

If you want to get an investment from your business, you’ll need a business plan to show to your lender or investors. This is to show them exactly what the money is for, how it will be used and, more importantly, how it will make enough money to pay back the initial investment.

Your business plan is proof that you can be trusted with the investment and that you will pay it back. It’s peace of mind for your investors that you’re worth giving money to, and depending on the type of funding, that your business will be a valuable project for them. 

Without a business plan, you’ll find it hard to secure funding that doesn’t come from personal sources. That’s one of the reasons why understanding how to write a business plan is so important.

In addition, business plans are a great way to really solidify what your plans are and how you’ll grow. It forces you into asking some hard-hitting questions about your business, allowing you to solve problems because they cause big roadblocks for your company. 

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How to write a business plan

Right, now we’ve hammered home why you need a business plan, it’s time to start writing. But, before you open the document and get alarmed by the blank page that’s in front of you, here’s some advice. 

There’s no right or wrong way to write a business plan. This process is designed to help you uncover information about your company and guide you, not dictate every decision you’ll ever make from this point. So, breathe, relax and let us guide you through it. 

Generally, there are two types of business plans that exist: 

Traditional business plans are more common and might be what you’re more familiar with. These can be dozens of pages long that list in detail about every aspect of your company. 

On the other hand, lean startup pages are only a page long. They’re not often used to secure investments, but as a way to summarise a business plan into the key bullet points. If you’re looking for a way to get the basics out of the way quickly, this type of business plan might be for you. 

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How to write a simple & successful business plan.

How To Write A Business Plan

If you’ve never written a business plan before, it can be a good idea to start with a lean startup plan to get an overview of your business and goals. You may also want to write a traditional plan afterwards to help you focus more clearly on these objectives and map out your roadmap in more detail. 

Even if you aren’t showing these documents to investors at this stage, they’re good internal documents to look back on to keep you on the right path. 

Once you’ve decided which type of business plan you need, scroll down to the right section to follow our step-by-step instructions of how to write a business plan. 

Need more help? Get a free quote from a business consultant:

How to write a traditional business plan.

Traditional business plans are the norm and still widely used around the globe.

A traditional business plan is a more in-depth document that details almost every aspect of your company. If you want a thorough overview of your business or are trying to secure investment, this is the plan that you need. 

It’s made up of the following sections: 

Okay, that list may look daunting. But to help you through it, we’ll guide you through the business plan section by section, telling you what it’s about, what you need to include, and examples to give you the right idea. 

Right, let’s get started. 

1. Executive summary 

One of the first things we need to cover in our guide to how to write a business plan is the executive summary.

An executive summary is a high-level overview of your business. 

Its purpose is to describe your company to those that don’t have time to read your entire business plan, enticing them into finding out more about your company. 

It should include information about: 

You’ll go into these factors in more detail later on, so don’t try to get everything in your executive summary. If you’re using your mission statement to apply for funding, it’s also a good idea to include a summary of the amounts here too. 

Although you don’t have any set word counts for any part of your business plan, you don’t want to go past a page for your executive summary. The key is the word summary here. Keep it short, sweet and easy to read. 

And because it’s a summary, it’s sometimes helpful to write this section last. That way you’ve had a chance to really think about everything in detail and hone in one the most important parts you want to portray here. 

Example executive summary 

Lick O’ Paint is an interior design and home decorating company. Its services include interior design work, home renovations, painting and decorating, and custom artwork. 


Lick O’ Paint is for design-conscious home-owners who want to create a magical space for their home but are dissatisfied with the ordinary designs from other home decorating companies. 

Unique Selling Point 

Unlike other decorating companies, Lick O’ Paint was founded by an award-winning artist that not only can find pieces to fit a room but design and produce artwork bespoke for the space. 

2. Company description

Whether you sell cakes or law counselling, you have to describe your company in the business plan.

This is your section to provide detailed information about your company and what you do. 

A company description is made from these key elements: 

If you’ve never written a mission statement before, this a 1-2 line description of why your business exists. It’s not simply a summary of what you do or what you sell, it’s the reason why you sell these products in the first place. 

For example, Nike’s mission statement isn’t to create sportswear . It’s to “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. Powerful stuff. 

Example company description 

To transform houses into stunning homes full of life and personality. 


Lick O’ Paint was founded in 2020 by award-winning artist Andie Bootstraps, after life-long friend Mark O’Chopping paid for, and was disappointed in, a recent home renovation. Stepping in to help recover the bland and lifeless space with bespoke art, Andie and Mark realised a gap in the market for those that want stunning and personal homes, without having to do everything themselves. 

Goals and objectives 

Principal Members

3. Market analysis 

One of the most important points in your business plan is the competition analysis, also known as market analysis.

This is where you go into detail about your particular industry and where you sit within it. To do this section, you’ll need to carry out competitive research about other businesses that are similar to yours and the advantages or weaknesses you have over them. 

When doing comparative analysis, ask questions such as: 

And so forth. 

Competitive analysis isn’t the time for blind-ego. Don’t just use this space to claim you’re better than anyone else. Instead, take a more honest look at the companies around you and what you can learn from them. 

This section is also the space to expand on your target customers in more detail. 

Example market analysis 


Lick O’ Paint is within the design and home trades industry. During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, home renovations and DIY projects took a 200% increase, increasing revenue by £3.4 billion in the UK, proving an incredibly lucrative industry and time to invest in a company.  

Lick O’ Paint’s biggest competitors are The DIY-ers, which specialises in completing home renovation work, and The Home Designers, a team of interior designers that have won the ‘Best Designed Home’ award for the last three years running.

Unlike Lick O’ Paint, none of the competitors is founded by an award-winning artist who can design bespoke artwork as part of the home renovation packages. 

Detailed description of customers 

Lick O’ Paint customers are between the ages of 30-60 with a household income of £50,000+. 

They are design-conscious home-owners who want to create a magical space for their home, but are dissatisfied with the ordinary designs from other home decorating companies.

Working full time, our customers don’t have the time nor desire to complete DIY projects themselves and would rather use their home to relax after a long day. Instead of decorating themselves, they would rather outsource the work for a professional finish. 

Company advantages 

Lick O’ Paint’s biggest advantage is that we provide both interior design, home renovations and bespoke artwork by award-winning artist and founder Andie Bootstraps. 

In addition, Lick O’ Paint stands out due to:

4. Organisation and management 

It is also important to describe how your company is organised, more specifically hierarchical bonds.

This is where you list how your company is structured and who will be running it. 

For this section, you might want to include CV’s of your key personnel to help paint a better picture of your company. These CV’s can be uploaded to the appendix so the reader can quickly jump to and find the information they need. 

5. Product or service

So, what does your company actually sell? 

This is the section to lay down exactly what services or the types of products you offer. You don’t need to include your entire category, but give an overview of everything that your company does and extra information such as a product lifecycle, production, and distribution, or any research and development into future productions. 

This is also the section to include your pricing structure and how much you charge for each service. 

Example product or service 


Services include: 

Pricing structure

Prices are determined on a case-by-case basis dependant on the level of work involved. As a base price, Lick O’ Paint charges: 

6. Marketing and sales strategy 

You might have the best product in the world, but if you can't sell it, your business will fail. Make sure you have a strong marketing strategy.

Customers make a business. 

Without customers, your business is just an idea. So, this section details exactly how you plan to get and sell to your customers. 

It should outline what strategies your company will use to generate leads and sales and how you plan on making people loyal customers that will always turn to your brand. 

With marketing, remember that there’s no single way to sell your product. Marketing strategies aren’t something that you should set in stone either. They always grow and evolve with your company and as you try out new things that work or don’t work. 

Want some tips for your marketing strategy? Why don’t you read our guides to find out how PPC advertising and SEO can drive traffic to your website , how to market a small business on social media , and more on our blog. 

Example marketing and sales strategy 

Marketing and sales at Lick  O’ Paint is led by Mark O’Chopping, who has over 10 years experience in sales. 

Lick O’ Paint’s marketing and sales strategy will leverage the following tactics to attract customers. 

Because interior design is a visual industry, we will be relying heavily on social media profiles and presences to visually showcase the bespoke designs we create. In addition, we’ll also take advantage of Andie Bootstrap’s unique links within the art world to advertise Lick O’ Paint at relevant art shows and exhibitions. 

The sales process will work as follows: 

Get help from a marketing strategy consultant:

7. funding request .

If you’re learning how to write a business plan to apply for funding, this is the section you’ll need to pay the most attention to. 

For this, you need to clearly explain how much funding you’ll need for the next five years and exactly what you’re going to use it on. Be as specific as possible in your request and outline and outline how this investment will lead to more revenue from your company. 

8. Financial projections 

Finances and accounting are not for everyone but they are paramount to make any company profitable. Make sure you analyse thoroughly this section of your business plan.

If you’re applying for funding, financial projections are an essential piece of information that you’ll need to supplement and back up your request. 

But even if you aren’t applying for funding, financial projections are an important one to include because they convince the reader that your business is stable and will be a success. 

Financial projections show to your reader that you’ve done the math and that you predict that your business is using a profitable model that will be sustainable. 

If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral you could put against a loan, here’s where to list it.  

Just be careful to make your financial projections realistic. People will see through optimistic plans that don’t account for the possibility of any disaster. What’s more, over-optimistic forecasts can lead to increased overheads. This will cause a dramatic problem with your cash flow and may even result in drastic cost-cutting down the line to put it right. 

Need some help with your finances? Find out 5 ways you can reduce your business costs here. 

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8. Appendix 

The appendix is the place to put any supporting documents or materials that were requested or support the statements that you’ve made. 

This can include: 

And that’s it! That’s your first business plan written and ready to go.  

How to write a lean startup business plan 

One sheet is all it takes to write a lean startup business plan. Don't go into much detail and cover all aspects of your business.

A lean startup business plan is the quicker, less detailed business plan option that you can write. It’s great for those that just need a high-level overview of your business that can be scanned. 

If you’re planning on applying for funding, you may want to scroll up to see how you can get started writing a traditional business plan instead. 

There are many different types of lean startup business plans. This is because it’s a less formal overview of your business, meaning you can pretty much swap and change up the sections to suit your business. 

However, to get you started we’d recommended including these sections: 

Don’t be alarmed by the number of sections here. You’ll only need a quick sentence or two for each of them, meaning your overall document will be just a page long. 

Right, ready to get stuck in? 

1. Company overview 

This is a description of your company in a nutshell. 

Example: Lick O’ Paint is an interior design and home decorating company that offers designs by award-winning artist Andie Bootstraps. 

2. Mission statement 

A mission statement is an overall problem that your company is trying to solve, or the core reason that you were founded. This is another one-line description of your company, but instead of saying what you do, you need to say why you do it. 

Example: To transform houses into stunning homes full of life and personality. 

3. Unique selling point 

What do you do that your competitor's can't do? This is your value proposition or unique selling point!

Your unique selling point should showcase the value that you provide, that no other business else can offer. Also known as a value proposition, this is what makes your business different from the other companies in your industry. 

Example : Lick O’ Paint is the only interior design company founded by an award-winning artist who can design bespoke artwork as part of the home renovation packages. 

4. Target customers 

Who are the ideal customers of your business? Think about the people that would buy your product or service and summarise them into 1-2 sentences. 

Example: Lick O’ Paint is for design-conscious home-owners who want to create a magical space for their home but are dissatisfied with the ordinary designs from other home decorating companies. 

5. Market analysis 

This is where you list what industry your company is a part of, as well as your biggest competitors. As this is a summary, you won’t go into detail about these sections, but they are a massively useful tool for your business to utilise if you haven’t already done so. 

Example: Lick O’ Paint sits within the design and home trades industry, which has increased 200% during the 2020 pandemic, increasing revenue by £3.4 billion in the UK. Our biggest competitors in this industry are The DIY-ers and The Home Designers. 

6. Product or services 

This is where you list what your company sells. This is either a physical product or a service that you provide. Because this is a summary, you don’t want to list every single product that you sell. Just give an overview of the type of products that you offer. 

Example: Lick O’ Paint provides interior design plans and consutaltions, home renovations, painting and decorating and custom Andie Bootstraps artwork. 

7. Marketing strategy 

Now, you don’t have to list your entire marketing strategy here. This will be more of a summary of the channels that you’ll use to attract new customers into your business. After all, without your customers, there is no business. 

Example : Lick O’ Paint will primarily use social media profiles and presences to visually showcase the bespoke designs we create. In addition, we’ll also take advantage of Andie Bootstrap’s unique links within the art world to advertise Lick O’ Paint at relevant art shows and exhibitions. 

8. Key personnel 

All companies are made of people, so don't forget to mention the vital elements of your team.

Who’s involved in your business? List all the key people that are part of the package and their roles within the company. 

A quick bullet point list here will do. 


9. Goals and objectives 

What are the key goals that your business is trying to achieve over the next few years? This is the space to list them in a quick bullet list. 

The key to setting goals is to be optimistic, but realistic. You don’t want to downplay your business by already thinking you can’t achieve a certain thing. In the same vein, you don’t want to blindly set a goal to be the best in the world. It needs to be something that’s measurable and realistic. 

How To Write A Business Plan: Key Tips 

No matter what type of business plan that you’re writing, we thought we’d lay out some of the key tips to make sure it’s the best it can be. 

Finance is a big part of building a business plan. So, if you’re unsure of your finances, talk to an accountant or expert for their advice planning before you start to write yours. It will make the process a lot easier, and give you a much clearer picture of your financial future. 

If you’re handling your finances yourself, why not free up some of your time by investing in some of the best accounting software around. 

By following our advice and step-by-step instructions, you’ll have a business plan that you can use to secure investments and help drive the growth of your business. 

Want more tips and advice on how to run your business? Keep an eye on our blog for more news and helpful articles. 

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