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Mark Edwards, general manager at www.rocketlawyer.co.uk, brings you this essential guide to creating the perfect business plan during your lunch break. Follow the six-part series exclusively online each week at www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk.

STEP 1  – getting started.

Not only does it act as a blueprint for your business, laying out clear foundations for success, but the business plan is also the single most important document you’ll create in order to secure the funding you need to help grow your business.Woman eating at desk

Whatever funding platform you’re looking to for investment – be it your bank, venture capitalists, crowdfunding websites or grants from the government, those you’re pitching to will expect to see a carefully thought-out business plan before they’ll agree to fund or invest in your business. Research has found that start-ups with a business plan raise twice as much capital as those without one in the first twelve months, so that should leave you in no doubt as to the importance of getting it right.

In addition, it encourages you to look long and hard at your concept or product – does it really have legs? Do the figures stack up? How are you actually going to implement it? Once completed, it will give you an excellent overview about the feasibility of your big idea – information not only vital to yourself, but also to potential investors.

All businesses needing planning, whatever stage they’re at, but for new business ventures, it is even more important to set clear objectives and a have strategy in place from the start, and a strong business plan will help you do just that, as well as holding the key to unlocking the finance that will help to get your business off the ground.

So follow us each week as we bring you another new snippet of advice on the key points you should cover to ensure that you have a clear and well-structured business plan, one that gives you the best chance of walking out with that much sought-after ‘I’m in’ vote.

The executive summary:

One of the most crucial elements, the executive summary, forms the first part of a business plan and – if not adequately presented  could also be the last part your potential investor reads. This section helps them to decide whether or not to continue reading – first impressions count so it pays to get this part right first time, literally.

Use this section to give an overview of your business without going into too much detail, providing enough useful information for a potential investor to decide whether it is something they would like to read in greater detail.

This is your opportunity to demonstrate the validity and potential of your concept, so do include your strongest unique selling points (USPs) and include any brief supporting information to show that you have based your business idea on sound industry insight and diligent research. Highlight the opportunities there are within your target market, the need or demand for your product or service.

Next week we look at step 2 – the business outline.