Introduction to this document

Structure for a business plan

Confusing a financial budget with a business plan will lead your organisation into the trap of repeating past performance. What are the key features of a good business plan?

Strategies and objectives

A good business plan drives the business towards its specified goals by addressing activities, accountabilities, resources and timescales within a framework of explicit assumptions. You play a key role in the planning process and can ensure that the business plan (and the related budget) are consistent.

They set key short and long-term objectives and outline strategies for accomplishing them. Business plans should link activities and actions to the strategies so that you are able to measure the actions and the results of them. Actions usually involve resource and cost so this will help to ensure that your financial budget reflects the plans.

Financial budget

Risks and assumptions. Good business plans address risks, including that the underlying assumptions may become invalid. As well as identifying these risks, plan for activities and responsibilities for mitigating them. Most importantly, check that the business plan is affordable.

Targets. More detail does not equate to better budgeting accuracy and the same applies to the business plan. Passing the sense check and covering key elements is more important. The activities and actions included in business plans should be measurable so that you can monitor the level of success in achieving them.

  • measurements do not need to be financial only. For example, a goal could be improved sales by investing in customer care and customer feedback could be the measure of this
  • timeline the activities and actions so that you can budget them by month.