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Guidance notes for Business Plans

Use this guidance as a checklist to ensure that your business plan describes the standard information likely to be required when presenting a loan fund application to the Black Country Enterprise Loan Fund. For Business Development Loans, please also provide audited accounts and any other supporting evidence (e.g. bank statements). Whilst the checklist does not guarantee that all questions will be answered as all businesses are different, it will help to minimise gaps in your application.

1.  Purpose - Why are you here and what do you do?

2.  Vision - Where do you want to be in 3 - 5 years?

3.  Mission - A short statement of your purpose (e.g. if someone says - what do you do, how would you engage their interest in a sentence or two)

4.  Values - What do you believe in and stand for?

5.  PESTLE Analysis - This is about understanding the external environment. Your funders will need to have assurances that you understand these issues, e.g. the legal environment.

6.  SWOT Analysis - Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

7.  Marketing - Your funders will need assurances that you understand the marketplace, how you stack up against your competitors, the rationale for your market research, about your market niche (who your customers are) or unique differentiators and how you will market your business.

8.  Risk Assessment - Your funders will need assurances that you have contingencies in place to mitigate risks (e.g. if you are a sole trader, what happens if you are ill?).

9.  Funders will also need assurances that you have the necessary competencies to manage the new aspects of your business. For example, if you were employed as a florist, you may have the necessary floristry skills, but what evidence is there that you can understand a lease for premises, how to manage your accounts or employ staff? This can usually be covered by using expert help. For example, attending a business start up course (see - Business Support Providers).

10.  Critical Success Factors & measures/targets

10.1  What must your business achieve to be successful?

10.2  How will you measure the success of your business and what are your key targets?

11.  Strategies and tactics

11.1  How will you achieve these critical success factors i.e. how will you operate? For example, supplier agreements, route to market, payment terms, employees/job roles.

11.2  How do you plan to achieve your targets? Specifically, your funders will need assurances that your sales/income rationale is robust, based on your market research and capabilities. If you already have 'intentions to buy' from customers or confirmed orders, provide this evidence as an appendix.

11.3  Supply chain - what deals have you negotiated for the purchase of materials, stock and services? What contingencies do you have in place if this supply is no longer available? How much do you plan to retail your goods/services for and why?

12.  Premises - have you had your lease risk assessed?

13.  Financials

13.1  Personal Survival Income - how much do you need to draw from your business each month? Use the template provided

13.2  Profit forecast and breakeven

13.3  Monthly cashflow - remember to include your loan repayments (Black Country Enterprise Loan Fund can provide help with this if you need it).

14.  Finally - keep your business plan succinct. Whilst it needs to be comprehensive enough the cover all the necessary information, try not to bury the important points in reams of information. Use appendices to provide additional information. You need to be able to use your business plan as a living breathing working document, which you regularly refer to in order to manage and assess your business.

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