Preparing your business plan

A business plan acts as a guide when your business is being set up and operating; how you work, planning the future and preparing for risks. It is also often a required document for finance applications.

Create a blueprint for your business through your business plan. Document your set of business goals, objectives, target market information and financial forecasts that you are aiming to achieve over a certain period.

Regularly reviewing and updating your plan, particularly when you are starting and growing your business, helps to keep your business on track and inform any employees of your business direction.

We recommend you share your plan with your business advisors or accountant, especially if you’re planning to use it to apply for business lending.

Start by downloading the free template below and begin preparing your business plan. You can save it on your computer and return to it later.

Download the free business plan template

You may wish to use this free business plan guide to step you through the process of developing a business plan that is solid, well-structured and tailored to your business, using the provided template.

  • How to prepare your plan

    • Use the template as a guide. Don’t attempt to complete the plan straight away. First, decide which sections are relevant for your business. Feel free to add or remove sections if you need to. Then work your way through the plan by filling in the empty boxes section by section.
    • Determine who the plan is for. Does it have more than one purpose? Will it be used internally or will it be provided to a third party, like a bank, accountant or potential business partner? Deciding the purpose of the plan can help you target your answers. If third parties are involved, what are they interested in? Don't assume they are just interested in the finance part of your business. They will be looking for the whole package.
    • Do your research. You will need to make decisions about your business, including structure, marketing strategies and finances, before you can complete your plan. By having the right information to hand you can be more accurate in your forecasts and analysis.
    • Seek help. If you aren't confident in completing the plan yourself, you can enlist the help of a professional (i.e., Business Enterprise Centre, business adviser, or accountant) to look through your plan and provide you advice.
    • Actual vs expected figures. Existing businesses can include actual figures in the plan, but if your business is starting you’ll need to make some realistic initial estimates about your sales and expenses.
    • Write your summary last. Use as few words as possible. You want to be clear and concise but not overlook important facts. This is also your opportunity to sell yourself. But don't overdo it. You want prospective banks, investors, partners or wholesalers to be able to quickly read your plan, find it realistic and be motivated to do business with you.
    • Review. Review. Review. Your plan is there to make a good impression. Errors will only detract from your professional image so ask several impartial people to proofread your final plan.
  • What to include in your plan

    Depending on your business type and size, your plan could include the following sections:
    • Title page. This describes what the plan is for and includes general information on your business.
    • Business summary. A one-page overview written after your business plan is finalised.
    • About your business. This is typically called the management plan or operations plan. It covers details about your business including structure, registrations, location and premises, staff, and products/services.
    • About your market. This is the marketing plan. It should outline your marketing analysis of the industry you are entering, your customers and your competitors. This section should also cover your key marketing targets and your strategies for meeting these targets.
    • About your future. This section covers your future aspirations and can include a vision statement, business goals and key business milestones.
    • About your finances. The financial plan includes how you'll finance your business, costing and financial projections. For more information about your accounting and other systems go to Finance management.
    • Supporting documentation. List all your attachments under this heading in your plan for easy reference. For example: copies of emergency procedures, maps, resumes, or financial tables.

More help

It’s important to seek help early from the range of advice and support services available to you.

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