Planning for Success
Byline: LINDA WHITNEY
WHETHER you want to start your business alone, with a franchise, or with a business opportunity, drawing up a business plan is likely to boost your chances of success.
Steve Richards, head of business planning and strategy at Royal Bank of Scotland, says: 'The process of developing a detailed business plan could highlight some unexpected issues before you get started. It's much easier to adapt your plans at this early stage to avoid any expensive errors.
He adds: 'Planning will help you prepare and demonstrate the feasibility of your ideas to others. Any bank being asked to lend to a new business will expect to see such a plan in place.' The business arms of banks usually provide free business starter packs for potential entrepreneurs, including CDroms containing template business plans. Government-backed small business service Business Link also provides advice on writing business plans in its No Nonsense Guide To Starting A Business, available free at www.businesslink.gov.uk/nng.
Franchisors commonly help potential franchisees draw up business plans.
'We give all applicants a business planning disk, containing the essential data needed to develop a business plan,' says Fyl Newington of Thresher Group, which is recruiting franchisees for its existing chain of off-licenses.
Investment is [pounds sterling]20,000 plus variable stock costs.
Because the franchises are all existing stores, the disk includes the store's sales history and prior years' profit and loss accounts, and comes with a guide to help you complete your plan.
'Thresher Group business development specialists help the applicant draw up the plan,' says Mr Newington.
'Once the data entry is complete the disk automatically calculates and produces the sales margins by product category, profit and loss and cashflow statements, for three forward years.' The completed disk also contains all the information a bank would need to consider if you want business loan, so in most cases all you need to do is give the bank the output from the disk.
But don't rely solely on the franchisor's advice about your plan.
'We offer all prospective franchisees a business planning tool on a CD-rom, setting out financial scenarios based on three levels of income, so they can see the resulting levels of profits,' says Geoff Searle of Bartercard UK, the trade exchanges franchise that encourages small businesses to trade without the need of cash. …