There is no single recipe for success when you are starting up in business – but one key
ingredient for many successful start-up businesses is a well thought through business plan.
A good business plan should help you to:
1. Clarify and think through the ideas that you will already have about your business.
2. Identify the key strengths in your business idea, so you can build on these but also
highlight important aspects that you might have missed or an area where you might
need more help and advice.
3. Present your business idea to another person; this will be particularly important if you
are hoping to obtain finance of any sort for your business. A good plan should help
someone to quickly understand your business and re-assure them that your ideas are
well thought through and the business is viable.
4. Check the progress of your business once it is up and running. If things aren’t going as
expected, a plan should help you identify and deal with any issues quickly.
The following pages contain our business plan template which we have tried to make brief but
comprehensive. Completion of the plan itself shouldn’t take too long, but you might find that it
prompts you to do some more research, perhaps with your potential customers, before you
launch your business. We have tried to make the plan useful for all types of businesses, but you
might find some sections do not apply to you, in which case just miss them out. For example if
you are setting up a consultancy business, the suppliers’ section may not be relevant.
The final pages of the plan provide a framework for an action list – you should complete this as
you work through your plan. Use your action list to record any ideas you have and capture any
thoughts about things you have to do either before, or immediately after, you have started
your business. This will help you make sure that your plan is a practical document that helps to
get your business off to the best possible start.
Business plan – an outline
You may find it easier to complete this section last. It should contain a summary of the key
points of your business plan and why you are confident your business will succeed. Some of the
areas you might want to think about including are:
? What the business is.
? Who the key people are and what skills and experience they have.
? Why you think it will be successful.
? What product or service your business will be selling, and what your Unique Selling
Point (USP) is.
? Some brief detail of the projected financial performance of the business and how it will
What am I doing?
Use this space to briefly describe your business. (For example, I am starting a new business selling ice creams or I am buying a franchise business selling sandwiches in Dubai Media City.)
What type of business will I set up as?
(For example, sole proprietorship, limited liability company or partnership)
What is my vision for this business – short and long term?
At the end of the first year my goals for this business are:
In 5 years’ time my goals for this business are:
My product or service
My product or service is:
In this section provide a full description of the product or service that your business will be
The Unique Selling Point of my business is:
This is one of the most critical elements of your business plan. Put down what it is about your
business that will attract customers away from whoever they buy from at the moment and
then keep them loyal to your business.
The price of my product or service will be:
Outline here the prices you will charge and your pricing policy for your product or service and
how this has been decided upon. How does this compare to your competitors? You should also
detail whether you will be offering your customers credit terms, and if so what they are.
What I know about my prospective customers
In this section give details of any market research you have done and what you have learned
from this. (For example, you might have sat outside a shop you are thinking of buying and
counted that 500 people walk past it every day.)
I have carried out the following market research:
What I have learnt from this research is:
The types of customers I anticipate will buy my product or service are:
In this section add anything you know about the particular type(s) of customers who will be the primary buyers of your product or service. (For example, if you were setting up a day
nursery, you might put working couples with young children living or working within 5
kilometres of the Jumeirah area.) Defining your customers like this can really help when you
begin to think about how you are going to promote or advertise your business to these
Promoting or advertising my business In this section list down the methods you will use to reach your potential customers and tell them about your business. (For example, you might attend a networking event or do some
leaflet drops. You might also want to include in this section details of anything special you are
going to do to launch your business.)
In this section list down who your key competitors are going to be and what their
relative strengths and weaknesses are. You might find it easier to list specific
competitors – or alternatively think about groups of competitors. (For example, if you
were setting up a business to sell specialist running shoes, you might think about the
local sports shop who you will be competing with.)
Competitor Strengths Weaknesses
Use this section to list the key people who are going to be involved with the business,
including yourself. Also detail what particular skills and experience, which are
relevant to the business, they have and what they will be responsible for.
Key person Relevant skills and Their responsibility in the
Skills gaps in my business
List down here any key skills that will be required for your business which are not available at
the current time. (For example, you might want to think about who will do the books, or take
charge of marketing.) If there are gaps in the skills required to make your business successful detail how you are going to fill these, this might mean attending a training course or employing
a part-time book-keeper.
In this section list down your key suppliers – if you have any. Who are they and why have you
chosen them particularly? What credit terms are they prepared to offer you, and what other
alternative suppliers do you have if a problem develops with the one you have chosen?
Supplier Why did I choose Credit terms offered Alternative supplier if
Premises and equipment
Where am I going to work from?
Detail here the particular premises you will be working from and why you have chosen them. If
you are buying or renting premises for this business, include details of how much you are
paying, whether you will need to do any alteration work, and any other relevant details about
the lease etc.
The equipment I will need:
List down here any equipment that you already have available, and any you will need to buy.
The set up costs of my business are:
Use this section to list down the initial costs of getting your business started, include the
equipment you will need and the basic things you might need to run your business, perhaps a van and a PC. You may well need some additional working capital to enable you to buy stock
and keep the business running until you begin to get paid. You can use the cash flow forecast,
which forms part of this plan, to work out how much you might need.
Item to buy How much?
I am going to finance these costs by: