Skip to main content
We're here with practical information for your business. Learn about business planning, running a business and more.


For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

Start-up business plan: Top 10 tips

Writing a business plan can seem daunting if you've never done it before. However, it's something you can't afford to put off or ignore. Having a sound business plan is crucial to the survival and development of your business. Alan Gleeson explains how to get it right

1. Tailor your business plan to your audience

The starting point for any business plan is audience. Who is going to read it? What is the purpose of the plan - is it to secure funding? Maybe you need to attract a business partner. Although key facts and figures will remain the same, tailor different versions of your plan to specific audiences' needs. For example, a potential investor will be looking for a clear explanation of how they will get a good return on their investment. A bank manager will seek proof you can afford to pay back a loan before they provide funding.

2. Research your market thoroughly

As viewers of the BBC's Dragons' Den series will know, prospective investors place great emphasis on market knowledge, which is why your research must be thorough. Information about your market must be detailed in your business plan, and you must show great awareness of your opportunities and threats, which requires considering your strengths and weaknesses.

3. Identify your competitors

To understand your market, you must recognise all competitors - who they are, their strengths and weaknesses and the likely implications for your business. All businesses face competition - your plan should show you have a clear strategy for dealing with all your competitors.

4. Pay attention to detail

Your business plan should get to the point, but it must include enough detail to ensure the reader has the information they need to understand your business. Your plan should make people believe in your ability and professionalism, which means there shouldn't be any spelling mistakes, errors, unrealistic assumptions or fantasy figures.

5. Focus on the opportunity your start-up offers investors

If you're seeking investment, clearly describe the opportunity. Why would somebody invest in your start-up as opposed to another? What is your unique selling proposition - what makes you special? Why will people buy from you? Your plan should answer all these key questions.

6. Don't leave out important facts

Basically, your plan must describe your products/services, customers, competitors, management team, operations, financials, development goals and strategy. If you miss out key facts, it will not reflect well on you when you present your plan to others.

7. Get your financial information right

Your business plan's financial information will face particular scrutiny. Cash flow should be documented in full, and your sales predictions need to be well founded. While costs are easier to predict than sales, both must be included. If figures really aren't your thing, seek assistance when producing your business plan, perhaps from an accountant or other trusted adviser.

8. Make your executive summary convincing

Arguably, your executive summary is the most important part of your business plan. More experienced readers will read it first, so they can quickly find out key facts and figures. If your executive summary doesn't engage them and encourage them to read on, the battle is lost. An executive summary provides headline figures and condenses your strategy into key points. Although it appears at the front of the document, leave writing it until last. By all means, make it engaging and impressive - but keep it realistic.

9. Seek a second opinion from a business adviser

Once you've completed a draft of your plan, have it independently reviewed. Choose someone who can offer independent, constructive criticism - perhaps an accountant or business adviser. Your local Chamber of Commerce or Enterprise Agency might be able to help. Their review might prompt questions you need to address in a revised draft.

10. Implement your business plan properly

A business plan should be a tool you use to judge performance and guide your strategy and the development of your business. It should contain specific goals, deadlines and responsibilities. It must be reviewed and updated regularly. A winning business plan will help ensure your business stays focused on what it needs to do to achieve its key goals.

Written by Alan Gleeson.

Stay up-to-date with business advice and news

Sign up to the lively and colourful newsletter for new and more established small businesses.

Contact us

Make an enquiry