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Writing a business plan

Running your own business is exciting and challenging all at once. Whatever your goals, we’d like to help you get off to a great start. A business plan will help you develop a crystal clear vision of your business and keep you focussed on your goals.

Here are some tips you might like to consider to help you write a business plan. It’s a general guide so please seek professional advice for your own business.

01

Why develop a business plan?

  • Helps give clarity to your objectives and goals, and keeps you on track.
  • Gives employees a strong sense of direction and purpose.
  • Provides a yardstick against which you can measure progress.
  • Helps give you credibility and legitimacy with your bank, investors, suppliers and others.

Here’s what your business plan might look like. We’ve also included a section-by-section breakdown later in this guide.

Overview

Summarise the essence of your business.

Business profile

Give an overall description of what your business is and where you want it to go.

The market

An assessment of your market, customers and competitors. Do a SWOT analysis.

Sales and marketing

Detail your sales, marketing, promotional, distribution, and pricing strategies.

Management and staff

How will your business will be managed and staffed? Detail the responsibilities of key staff members.

Operational plan

Detail how your business will operate, include information about your premises, equipment, materials, licences, consents, insurance, suppliers and systems.

Finances and forecasting

ow is your business going to be viable? Provide profit and loss forecasting, cash flow, capital expenditure and information on how loans and investors will be repaid.

Continuity planning

If disaster strikes, what is your contingency plan? Detail how you will keep your business operating.

Consider having an independent professional help develop your business plan too; someone such as an accountant. It may carry more credibility, particularly if it includes cash flow forecasts that the professional can endorse.

02

A business plan in detail

Let’s take a look at a business plan section-by-section.

If you’d like a free business plan template you can find one at business.govt.nz. Use the structure here to build a plan.

03

The business profile

This section gives an overall description of what your business is and where you want it to go. Key points to include here are:

  • Vision – try to sum up in one sentence what your business is all about, where you want it to go and how you’ll get there.
  • Description – what your business does and the market in which you operate.
  • Your customer – explain who they are, where they are and how your business will meet their needs.

04

The market

This is an assessment of your market, customers and competitors. A good way to do this is a SWOT analysis for your business:

  • Strengths – what does or will your business do well? What makes you better than other businesses?
  • Weaknesses – what doesn't your business do well at the moment and how will you improve this?
  • Opportunities – where are the areas for growth, both within and outside of the business?
  • Threats – what are the external factors that could change or threaten your business?

Then think about who would buy your product or service and why it’s better or different from your competitors’ products or services. Consider what you will charge for your product or service, and what your sales targets are in order to break even.

05

Sales and marketing

This section details your sales and marketing strategy, products and services, promotional and distribution strategies, as well as pricing.

Your plan should answer questions such as:

  • What’s the best way to reach your customers?
  • Why should a customer choose you over a competitor?
  • How will you measure the value of any sales promotion?
  • What is your budget for sales and marketing?
  • How will you get repeat business?
  • How can you collect useful data on your customers? For example, loyalty programmes, customer relationship management systems, online sales channels.
  • How will you use this data to create targeted and relevant messages?

06

Management and staff

Who are your key people? They make a big difference to your business performance. Think about questions such as:

  • How will their experience and skills help you deliver?
  • What knowledge or experience gaps do you have?
  • How will you fill those gaps?

07

Operational plan

Key questions you should answer about how your business will operate might include:

  • Where will you be located? Can you work from home initially? This may help to keep your costs down early on.
  • Do you need resource consent for your premises or operations?
  • What IT infrastructure will you need?
  • How will you get your product to market?
  • What about insurance?
  • Have you thought about your supply network?

08

Finances and forecasting

We recommend you talk to a finance professional in your industry when you complete this section. If you’re looking for an ASB business or rural loan, talk to us today, we might be able to help.

Consider the following:

  • Do you have enough money to get up and running as well as cover costs in the short term?
  • What is your break-even point?
  • When will your business make enough to be profitable?

Some things you may need to prepare:

  • Budgets showing costs, income and cash flow, particularly important for seasonal businesses.

Rule of thumb: When it comes to finances and forecasting be conservative, double your expenditure and halve your sales forecasts.

09

Business continuity plan

If disaster strikes, it’s important to have contingency plans in place to ensure your business can trade afterwards.

For example, what would happen if your business lost electricity or internet access for more than 24 hours, or if a key supplier was suddenly unable to operate?

Think about how your business might be affected and plan a number of ways you might be able to work around these problems. It’s a good idea to develop a business continuity plan that you can activate if the business suffers a major setback of this nature.

You’ll find more about business continuity planning at resilientbusiness.co.nz.

Next steps

We hope you found this guide useful for your business plan. For more information on how we can help your business, check out our business and rural loans, or please get in touch with us.

Other helpful guides

ASB’s lending criteria, terms and fees apply.

The above information is a guide only and should not be relied on as it does not take into account the financial situation of your business. You should seek your own professional advice to suit the particular needs of your business.

ASBWriting a business plan