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Creating a Business Plan

If you are setting up a new venture, or you want to take stock and move on to the next stage of your organisation’s development, a business plan will help discipline your thinking and activity and give you a clear sense of direction with clear and attainable future goals. It will also help you monitor and measure progress and if well drafted will favourably influence potential funders, customers and investors. This recipe will help you with the basics.

Serves – voluntary and community organisations

Preparation – 1-5 days, longer if substantial research required

Cooking time – lasts for up to 3 years, review annually

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  • Your mission
  • Your aims
  • Key objectives
  • Partnership
  • Communication
  • Target market
  • Competitor analysis
  • Main priorities
  • Anticipated  outcomes
  • Monitoring
  • Income generation
  • Budget
  • Cash flow
  • Financial management
  • General management


  1. Firm up your mission – why your organisation exists – so that it becomes a clear statement, something which gets across what you’re about in one or two short sentences.


  1. Do the same with your aims – what you set out to achieve.


  1. Then your key objectives over the near future, e.g. 1-3 years. Try to make them SMART, (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time scaled).


  1. Consider what organisations you could potentially work in partnership with, and outline your strategy for working with them.


  1. Carry out a potential competitor analysis, what they offer and how you can complete with them if at all.


  1. Then set out how the manner and purpose of your communication with actual and potential customers, funders, users, stakeholders, and the public.


  1. Analyse your target market,that is the people you will be serving – consider their circumstances, views and needs.


  1. Then set out your main priorities over the next 1-3 years (this will be a fuller explanation of the objectives you set out earlier).


  1. Then set out the anticipated outcomes of this work, again try to make them SMART.


  1. Then say how you will go about monitoring your organisations progress, to enable periodic evaluation to take place


  1. Consider how you expect to do about income generation for your organisation – income from trading, grants, donations and possibly investors. Grants and  donations should form part of a separate fundraising strategy.


  1. Project estimated income v expenditure over the next 1-3 years in a budget. Include all reasonable possibilities but not speculative ones. Be sure no anticipated expenditure is forgotten! Then project cash flow over this period. This is as important as the budget, you need to allow for periods when cash may not come in but you have bills to pay.


  1. Describe your processes for financial management and control, and general management, including Risk Management, staff and volunteer recruitment, training and development, staffing arrangements, Board of Directors or Trustees.