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Start-up business: Top 10 tips
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.
2. Research your market thoroughly
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, recognise all competitors – who they are, their strengths and weaknesses and the likely implications for your business.
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.
5. Focus on the opportunity your start-up offers investors
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
Your plan must describe your products/services, customers, competitors, management team, operations, financials, development goals and strategy.
7. Get your financial information right
Your business plan's financial information will face particular scrutiny. If figures really aren't your thing, seek assistance 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.
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.
10. Implement your 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.