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Building a Roadmap to Success: Crafting a Comprehensive Business Plan for Your Start Up

Successfully starting a new venture takes careful planning.

You would never set off on a road trip without a map or sat nav to guide you to your destination, and similarly an essential step in launching a successful startup is creating a comprehensive business plan to steer you forward.

In this guide, we’ll explore the key components of a robust business plan that will set your startup on the path to success.

You can download a business plan template to help you in this process here.

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section of your business plan, but it’s often written last. The summary gives a concise overview of your business idea, including your mission statement, goals, target market, and a brief overview of what you intend to sell. It should highlight what makes your startup unique and why it has potential for success.

Person using a laptop

2. Describing Your Products and Services

In this section, provide a detailed description of the products or services your startup will offer. Explain how your offerings meet the needs of your target market and what sets them apart from existing solutions. Discuss any unique features or innovations that give your products/services a competitive edge.

3. Market Analysis

Person pointing at a flip chart paper with writing

Conduct a thorough analysis of your target market, including its size, demographics, purchasing behaviour, and growth trends. Identify any legislative guidance or changes that may impact on the business.

You can find some of this detail through online research, but helpful Market analysis information can also be found via the BIPC centre at your local library.

4. Market Research

Once you’ve analysed your market, you can test your assumptions through conducting market research. This may include surveys, interviews, industry reports, and conducting competitor analysis. Gather insights into customer preferences, pricing strategies, distribution channels, and any gaps or opportunities in the market that your startup can capitalise on.

Tools like survey monkey can be useful for gathering data online. But be sure to find ways to reach out to people who fit within your target market when gathering data to get the best results. Avoid asking friends and family, as their responses may be tinged with bias as they are keen for you to succeed.

5. Marketing Strategy

Outline your plan for reaching and gaining customers. This includes your branding strategy, pricing model, promotional tactics, and distribution channels.

Will you need a website? What social media channels will you most likely use to reach your customers? What offline marketing or networking will you carry out? How will sales be made?

Define your unique selling proposition (USP) and explain how you’ll position your startup in the market to attract your target audience.

Two people sticking postits to wall

6. SWOT Analysis

Conduct a SWOT analysis to evaluate your startup’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This exercise will help you identify internal capabilities that you can leverage, areas for improvement, potential market opportunities, and external risks or challenges that could impact your business.

An example opportunity may be a tender you could respond to, work that isn’t guaranteed, but where there is potential. A threat may be if you are a sole trader and are taken ill, how will your business continue to function?

Through identifying potential weaknesses and threats you can prepare contingencies that will make your business stronger. Through capitalising on opportunities and strengths you will create a business that maximises potential.

7. Operations and Logistics

Two people at laptops

Outline the logistical aspects of running your startup, including identifying key suppliers and partners, and discussing any operational challenges or requirements. It is important to have plans in place to account for supply chain disruption if your usual go to supplier were to cease trading or be low on supply, and to plot through exactly how products reach your customer.

For service led businesses, supply may still be relevant for keeping your office ticking over, and you may need to think through operational tools you will need to keep the business running.

8. Start-up Costs

Detail the initial investment required to launch your startup, including costs for equipment, technology, marketing, staffing, and any other necessary expenses. Provide a breakdown of your budget and a timeline for when funds will be needed and how you intend to raise the money.

9. Financial Forecasting

Develop a financial forecast that projects your startup’s income, expenses, and cash flow over the next few years. Include detailed projections based on your pricing strategy and sales forecasts. Consider various scenarios and assumptions to assess the financial viability of your business model such as sales cycles, flow of supply, your capacity to carry out the work required etc.

Person looking at charts

By carefully outlining your business idea, market opportunity, and strategy for execution, you’ll not only gain clarity on your vision but also demonstrate to potential investors and stakeholders that you have a solid plan for success. Remember, a business plan is a living document that should evolve as your startup grows and adapts to market conditions. Continuously revisit and update your plan to ensure it remains relevant and aligned with your goals.

Ready to get started?

Visit the Liverpool City Region Start Up Support pages to access information, advice and support

This project is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as the lead authority and delivered by the borough’s six Local Authorities.

Halton Borough Council, Knowsley Council, Liverpool City Council, Sefton Council, St Helens MBC and Wirral Council logos

Funded by UK Government, Liverpool City Region & Metro Mayor and Growth Platform logos