1. Contact Information
Before anything else you need to have a basic page providing some brief contact information about yourself. This should include information about you from the business perspective as well as your personal details. In other words, if you are already using a business name, website, email, etc, then you need that information first and foremost. This should be your business name, business owner/director name, business address, website and email. Then put your home contact details to, including address, telephone and email.
2. Executive Summary
This is a very important part of your plan when it comes to presenting your business idea to potential investors. Strangely enough, you will almost certainly have to leave this part until you have completed all the other sections. In order to do this section properly, you need to understand every aspect of how your business is going to start and develop over time. Part of what you are doing is summarising the entire business plan, so wait until you have completed the other sections, then come back to this.
The reason this part of your plan is so important is that it is the first thing any potential investor or funder will look at, and if they do not like it, then they may well not bother looking at the rest of your plan. The purpose is to quickly inform the reader about the purpose of your business and leave them interested enough to want to find out more about it.
The first part of your Executive Summary should include the following points:
- what is the product or service is that you are providing
- the legal status of your business (limited company, sole trader, etc) and reasons for this
- what is your business called, and why
Think carefully about your business name. Very often it is the first thing a potential customer will see, so it has to convey something of what it is that you are offering. You should check that there are no negative connotations or alternative meanings to your business name and you must make sure that it is not already in use by another company.
You can check for names of limited companies at Companies House website here: www.companieshouse.gov.uk/
You can do a search to see if a name is a registered trademark at www.trademarkroom.com/, though there is a cost for this. There are sites offering free basic searches, such as www.markify.com/, but this will not actually report on whether the name you are interested in can actually be registered.
You can check whether a website domain name is already registered on any of the hundreds of domain name registrars available. I tend to use Domain Monster. If you find a that the domain you want, or a similar one, is already registered, you can find out more about who owns it by doing a ‘WhoIs’ search on WhoIs.net.
Then you need to set out the main aims of your company. You do not need to get into endless detail here, just list the main things you want your business to achieve. It is probably helpful to split these into first year aims, then put some mid or longer term aims in too.
Use the financial forecasts that you provide later in the plan to provide a summary of how the finances of your business will work. Spell out the headline figures in year one, year two and year three, which should include turnover, your costs, any funding or borrowing and your net profit (if any). The explanation of your finances should include where you expect to get any funding or investment from.
As an add-on to your Executive Summary, it is a good idea to come up with a one minute pitch to explain your business idea. This is sometimes known as an ‘elevator pitch’, meaning a pitch you could make to someone you met in an elevator before one of you got to their floor. This should ideally last a minute or less, but certainly no more than two minutes.
The importance of this section is that it will enable you to refine and practice the best words that you can use to quickly pitch your business to someone. You may know your business ideas inside out, but that is not the same as being able to explain the key points of your business clearly to someone in less than a minute.
The main things to get into your pitch are what your business does, who your customers are and why you are better than your competitors and different to other businesses.