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Example business plans
Put together your business plan with our tips.
Where can I find an example of a business plan?
If you’re preparing to write your first business plan and are looking for some useful resources and advice on what elements to include you have come to the right page.
It is essential to have a realistic, working business plan when you’re starting up a business. We have our own section devoted to business planning where there are lots of articles and links to information on writing business plans . The content can show you how to prepare a high quality plan using a number of easy-to-follow steps but also contains more specialist information to help you really fine tune your document, plus advice on presentation and targeting.
If you are specifically looking for advice as a franchisee, check out our article on the 11 things you need to include in a franchise business plan .
There are a range of other sources you may also want to use. An often overlooked source is your Bank who may well have information, examples and templates of business plans:
- Barclays template and checklist [pdf]
- Lloyds sample plan [downloadable pdf – see section 4]
The Prince’s Trust offers downloadble pdf, MS Word and Excel templates . They also offer personal advice on completing a plan through their Enterprise programme if you are selected to work with them.
Slideshare has lots of business plans uploaded, which you can browse through here . We liked this thorough 26 page example from The Business Plan Team , as well as a template created by former Deloitte Management Consultants here , and a good example of a colourful, visual plan suitable for a trendy food business here .
An interesting interactive free business plan creator is offered by LawDepot . On the website you are stepped through 7 simple steps using a well-designed graphic interface, and at the end you can output the subsequent plan ready to fill in. There are 12 industries to choose from and it has sections for company structure, product, marketing, SWOT, operations and ‘Fine Details’.
Other Web Resources: Business Plan Templates
You can find examples of business plans for different types of businesses at:
- ACCA – the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants have 3 example business plans for three different business sectors: Cafe, Import Business, UK Ltd business seeking finance.
- Bplans – owned and operated by Palo Alto Software Inc., the site has free plans to download and it also has examples for lots of different types of individual or specific market sectors.
- Expert Hub – based in South Africa, this site has 21 example business plans for different categories.
- Start Up Loans – offer a downloadable .docx template.
- Invest Northern Ireland – have a .doc business plan template to download here
- StartUps.com – have four sample plans that you can access from Google Drive (note, this is a USA site so the examples are US-based, although the formats could still work for a UK business).
- Examples.com – 20+ example downloadable .pdf plans for different sectors.
Finally, how about a video on the subject? Quite a few examples on Youtube.
How about this one from Craig Frazier?
Further reading on business plans:
- Advice and the basic tips of writing a business plan
- A check list of what should be in your business plan
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Free Simple Business Plan Template
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Your business plan is the document that adds structure to your proposal and helps you focus your objectives on an achievable and realistic target. It should cover every aspect of what your business journey will look like, from licensing and revenue, to competitor and sector analysis.
Writing a business plan doesn't need to be a difficult process, but it should take at least a month to be done properly.
In today's capricious business climate there's a lot to consider, such as the impact of political challenges like Brexit. These details are especially important in today's bad economy. Investors are looking for entrepreneurs who are aware of the challenges ahead and how to properly plan for them.
Below, you'll find everything you need to create a concise, specific and authoritative business plan. So let's get started turning your idea into a reality!
Our below guide will give you detailed advice on how to write a quality business plan. But first, you need to know what to include – and that's where a high quality template can help.
We recommend creating an account with monday to use this template – doing so means you can start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot.
What to include in your business plan template
There's a lot of information online about how to write a business plan – making it a confusing task to work out what is and isn't good advice.
We're here to cut through the noise by telling you exactly what you need to include for a business plan that will satisfy stakeholders and help develop a key identity for your brand. By the end, you'll have a plan to make even Alan Sugar proud and can get started with the most exciting part – running your business.
Throughout this guide, we've featured an example business plan template for a new restaurant opening in Birmingham called ‘The Plew'. In each section, you'll be able to see what the contents we're describing would look like in a ‘real-life' document.
What to include in your business plan:
- Executive Summary
- Personal summary
- Business idea
- Your product or service
- Market analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Cash forecast
- Operations and logistics
- Backup plan
- Top tips for writing a business plan
- Business plan template UK FAQs
1. Executive summary
This section is a summary of your entire business plan. Because of this, it is a good idea to write it at the end of your plan, not the beginning.
Just as with the overall business plan, the executive summary should be clearly written and powerfully persuasive, yet it should balance sales talk with realism in order to be convincing. It should be no more than 1,000 words.
It should cover:
- Mission statement – what is your company's purpose?
- Business idea and opportunity – what unique selling point (USP) will you provide?
- Business model – how will your business operate?
- Business objectives – what are you aiming to achieve?
- Target market – who is your customer base?
- Management team – who are the owners/senior staff?
- Competition – who are you competing against?
- Financial summary – can you prove the business will be profitable?
- Marketing strategy – what is your marketing plan and associated costs?
- Timeline – how long will it take to launch/grow your new business?
It sounds like a lot – but don't feel you have to spend hours putting this together. Here's what the above information for an executive summary might look like when put into our example business plan template for ‘The Plew':
Startups' business plan template example: executive summary
2. Personal summary
Investors want to know who they're investing in, as much as what. This is where you tell people who you are, and why you're starting your business.
Outline your general contact details first, giving your telephone number, email address, website or portfolio, and any professional social media profiles you might have.
Run through this checklist to tell the reader more about yourself, and put your business ambitions into context.
- What skills/qualifications do you have?
- What are you passionate about?
- What is/are your area(s) of industry expertise?
- Why do you want to run your own business?
Here's what our two fictional co-founders of ‘The Plew' might write in their personal summaries for our example business plan. CEO Gabrielle Shelby, has highlighted her expertise in the restaurant industry, while CFO Freya Moore outlines her accounting and finance knowledge.
Startups' business plan template example: personal summary
Richard Osborne, founder and CEO of UK Business Forums, says personality is important in a business plan.
“Having a strong, personal reason at the heart of your business model will help keep you going and give you the motivation to carry on,” he affirms.
3. Business idea
This section is essentially to offer a general outline of what your business idea is, and why it brings something new to the market.
Here, you should include your general company details, such as your business name and a one-line summary of your business idea known as an elevator pitch. This section should also list a few key business objectives to show how you plan to scale over the next 1-3 years.
We also recommend carrying out a SWOT analysis to tell investors what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are for your business idea. Think about:
- Strengths: ie. why is this a good time to enter the sector?
- Weaknesses: ie. what market challenges might you encounter?
- Opportunities: ie. what demand is your product/service meeting in today's market?
- Threats: ie. how will the business be financed to maintain liquidity?
In the template below, you can see a breakdown of the above information for ‘The Plew'. At the top is its mission statement: “to craft an unforgettable dining experience in a chic atmosphere.”
Startups' business plan template example: business idea
Need a business idea? We've crunched the numbers and come up with a list of the best business ideas for startup success in 2023 based on today's most popular and growing industries.
4. Your products or services
Now it's time to explain what you are selling to customers and how will you produce your sales offering.
Use this section to answer all of the below questions and explain what you plan to sell and how. Just like your business idea outline, your answers should be concise and declarative.
- What product(s) or service(s) will you sell?
- Do you plan to offer new products or services in the future?
- How much does the product or service cost to produce/deliver?
- What is your pricing strategy ?
- What sales channels will you use?
- Are there legal requirements to start this business?
- What about insurance requirements?
- What is the growth potential for the product or service?
- What are the challenges? eg. if you're looking to sell abroad, acknowledge the potential delays caused by post-Brexit regulations.
What insurance and licensing requirements do you need to consider?
Depending on what your business offers, you might need to invest in insurance or licensing. Our How To Start guides have more details about sector-specific insurance or licensing.
Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, and Employers' Liability are the most well-known types of business insurance. We've listed some other common other licensing and insurance requirements below:
In our example product/service page for ‘The Plew”s business plan, the founders choose to separate this information into multiple pages. Below, they outline their cost and pricing, as well as sales strategy. But they also include an example menu, to offer something a bit more unique and tantalising to the reader:
Startups' business plan template example: product list and pricing strategy
5. Market analysis
This section demonstrates your understanding of the market you are entering, and any challenges you will likely face when trying to establish your company.
This section pulls all of your target market and customer research together to indicate to stakeholders that you are knowledgable about the sector and how to succeed in it.
- Who is your typical customer and where are they are based? Describe the profile of your expected customers eg. average age, location, budget, interests, etc.
- How many customers will your business reach? Outline the size of your market, and the share of the market that your business can reach.
- Have you sold any products/services to customers already? If yes, describe these sales. If no, have people expressed interest in buying your products or services?
- What have you learned about the market from desk-based research? What are the industry's current challenges, and how has it been affected by the economic downturn?
- What have you learned about the market from field research? (eg. feedback from market testing like customer questionnaires or focus group feedback).
What is your marketing strategy?
Once you've highlighted who your rivals are in the market, you can provide details on how you plan to stand out from them through your marketing strategy. Outline your business' USP, your current marketing strategy, and any associated advertising costs.
‘The Plew' identifies its target audience as young, adventurous people in their mid-30s. Because of the restaurant's premium service offering, its audience works in a well-paid sector like tech:
Startups' business plan template example: customer analysis
6. Competitor analysis
This section demonstrates how well you know the key players and rivals in the industry. It should show the research you have carried out in a table format.
Begin by listing the key information about your competitors. Don't worry about sounding too critical, or too positive. Try to prioritise accuracy above all else.
- Business size
- Product/service offering
- Sales channels
Competitors will take two forms, either direct or indirect. Direct competitors sell the same or similar products or services. Indirect competitors sell substitute or alternative products or services.
Here's a breakdown of the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and threats presented by a competitor restaurant for ‘The Plew' called Eateria 24. At the bottom, the founders have written what learnings they can take from the chart.
Startups' business plan template example: competitor analysis
Check out our list of the top competitor analysis templates to download free resources for your business, plus advice on what to include and how to get started.
7. Cash forecast
Outline your financial outlook including how much you expect to spend, and make, in your first year
All of your considered costs can be put into one easy-to-read document called a monthly cash forecast. Cash forecasts contain:
1. Incoming costs such as sales revenue, customer account fees, or funding.
2. Outgoing costs such as staff wages or operating expenses. The latter can cover everything from advertising costs to office supplies.
For those firms which have already started trading, include any previous year's accounts (up to three years) as well as details of any outstanding loans or assets.
Annual cash forecast: what is it?
By conducting 12 monthly cash forecasts, you can create an annual cash forecast to work out when your company will become profitable (also known as breakeven analysis) . You will break even when total incoming costs = total outgoing costs.
In your annual cost budget, make sure to also include month opening/closing balance. This is important to monitor for accounting, particularly for year-end.
- Opening balance = the amount of cash at the beginning of the month
- Closing balance = the amount of cash at the end of the month
The opening balance of any month will always be the same as the closing balance of the previous month. If you are repeatedly opening months with a negative closing balance, you need to adjust your spending. Here's an example of what ‘The Plew's financials might look like in its first year of operation:
Startups' business plan template example: cash forecast
8. Operations and logistics
Explain how your day-to-day business activities will be run, including key business partnerships around production and delivery.
List all of the behind the scenes information about how your business will operate. Include:
- Management team – who do you plan to hire as senior staff and why?
- Premises – where will you be based? What will be the cost?
- Materials – what materials/equipment will you need to make your product/service?
- Staffing – how many employees will you hire? How much will they cost?
- Insurance – what insurance do you need for production?
Detail how your customers will receive your product or service. Include:
- Distribution – how will you sell your product to customers?
- Transport – how will you transport the product/service to customers or partners?
- Insurance – what insurance do you need for delivery?
C.) Supplier analysis
Lastly, you should carry out a supplier analysis. Write down 2-3 suppliers you plan to use as part of your business operations and evaluate them on factors like location and pricing.
In our example business plan for ‘The Plew', the founders have chosen to present this information in an easily-digestible chart, breaking down the leadership and employees into two different areas: product development and operations.
Startups' business plan template example: staffing section
9. Backup plan
Explain how you will manage any surprise losses if your cash forecast does not go to plan.
In the event that your business does not go to plan, there will be costs to incur. A backup plan outlines to potential investors how you will pay back any outstanding loans or debt.
In the short-term:
If your cash-flow temporarily stalls, what steps could you take to quickly raise money or make savings? For example, by negotiating shorter payment terms with your customers.
In the long-term:
If you've noticed a drop in sales that seems to be persisting, what changes can you make that would improve cash flow longer term? For example, can you do more of your business online to reduce rent fees?
To placate investors even further, it's a good idea to include details about potential support channels you can utilise (eg. a business network or contact) who might be able to help if you get caught in a sticky cash-flow situation.
Startups' 5 top tips for writing a business plan
- Keep your predictions realistic. Your business plan should showcase your knowledge of the sector and what's achievable. It's not about impressing investors with big numbers or meaningless buzzwords.
- Don't go over 15 pages. Business plans should be engaging, which means sticking to the point and avoiding a lot of long-winded sentences. Keep your executive summary to less than 1,000 words, for example.
- End with supporting documents. Use your appendix to include product diagrams or detailed research findings if these are helpful to your business case.
- Get a second pair of eyes. Everyone misses a spelling error or two – invite a trusted business contact or associate to look over your business plan before you send it anywhere.
- Leave enough time to write! It's exciting to think about getting your business up and running – but planning is an important step that can't be rushed over. Spend at least a month on writing to get all the details correct and laid-out.
Now that you're up to speed on everything a business plan needs to include, we recommend using the free monday.com business plan template to jot down your ideas.
At Startups.co.uk, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have practical resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – use the tool below to get started today.
What Does Your Business Need Help With?
Designing a business plan is very important for laying the foundation of your business. Ensure you spend an appropriate amount of time filling it out, as it could save you many headaches further down the line.
Once your plan is complete, you'll then be ready to look at other aspects of business set-up, such as registering your company. Sound daunting? Don't worry!
Our experts have pulled together a simple, comprehensive guide on How to Start a Business in 2023, which will tell you everything you need to know to put your new plan into action.
- Can I write a business plan myself? Absolutely! There are plenty of resources available to help, but the truth is a business plan needs to reflect the owner's personal ambitions and passion - which is why entrepreneurs are best-placed to write their own.
- How long should a business plan be? We recommend your business plan is kept to a maximum of 15 pages. Keep it short and concise - your executive summary, for example, should be no more than 1,000 words.
- Is it OK to copy a business plan? While not technically illegal, copying a business plan will leave you in a poor position to attract investment. Customising your plan to your unique business idea and industry specialism is the best way to persuade stakeholders that you have a winning startup formula.
Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.
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A finance provider will review any business plan submitted; it is essential that your plan relates to your business and you do not rely on a generic document.
A finance provider will review any business plan submitted; it is essential that your plan relates to your business and you do not rely on a generic document. After understanding the requirements of a business plan here is a useful guide from Barclays' which highlights the relevant sections that you need to consider when writing your business plan.
- Barclays Business plan
Here are three further example business plans. The first one is a comprehensive example of a fictitious airport café business looking to open a new site. The second is of a fictitious stone import business looking to cover the shortfall of working capital as they plan to expand and the third is of a fictitious fuel efficiency business looking for debt factoring finance.
- Airport Café
Stone Importers Ltd
Smith Fuel Efficiency Ltd
You can download all of these from 'Related documents'.
Download PDF 485KB
Barclays Business Plan
Download PDF 74KB
Airport Cafe Example Business Plan
Download PDF 63KB
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How to Create a Business Plan – Examples, Templates and Tools
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May 18, 2021 | 10 Mins Read
In business, planning is everything. Whether you’re starting in business for the first time or you’ve got years of experience under your belt, one thing remains true: you need to have a thorough business plan. There’s so much else to do that it’s easy to put this to one side, but it’s an absolute must-have.
There’s an old saying: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Even the best business idea won’t get anywhere without preparation. A business plan can help you set your new startup or small business on a healthy trajectory of sustainable growth, as well as equipping you to navigate challenges you’re likely to encounter along the way. In this guide, we’ll look in detail at how to create a great business plan.
What is a business plan?
A business plan isn’t just about a balance sheet, as important as that is. It’s a written document where business owners outline their key activities and objectives and sketch out a general strategy for reaching them. Both new startups and established firms looking to expand use business plans to attract investment.
Your business plan can help you identify and understand your target market, devise reliable financial projections, create a roadmap for the future and provide an executive summary of what you’re trying to do. They also allow entrepreneurs to list key objectives and explain to potential investors how they intend to realise them.
Business owners should revisit their business plans periodically. This is because circumstances can change, often quite rapidly, and render business plans outdated. They should therefore rework their business plans so that they’re in line with current targets and expectations.
When and why do you need a business plan?
If you’re looking to entice new investors to put cash into your business, you’ll need to convince them that it’s going places. After all, seasoned investors—including venture capitalists—need to see that you have a credible vision for your business. A good business plan can go a long way to convincing them that it’s worth their while.
Potential investors will also be looking for proof that you’ve undertaken a proper competitive analysis, have a credible marketing strategy and that you understand your potential customers’ demographics. This can provide them with the reassurance they need to provide the firm’s capital for future scalability.
Of course, business plans aren’t only about external investors. They’re also useful for internal teams, giving a clear sense of direction to any decisions undertaken. Even if you have all the funding you need, you should still have a business plan in place to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.
Business plan components
Now we know why you need a business plan. But what exactly goes into one? Let’s take a look at the core components your plan needs.
An executive summary provides an overview of your business and what you’re hoping it will achieve, including a concise summary of the other sections of your plan. As such, you should leave writing it until last so that these summaries accurately reflect the contents of their respective sections.
Don’t forget to include your value proposition, which encapsulates what your business is about and what makes it stand out from its rivals.
Mission statement and objectives
Next, you’ll need a company description covering three key areas: your business’s history, mission statement, and key objectives for the future. You don’t need to be exhaustive here—instead, it’s better to be concise. Your objectives, too, should be realistic, concrete, and measurable. Otherwise, they won’t be credible either to investors or employees.
Your business plan must include solid market research. Think about who will comprise your customer base and their demographics—including age, location, class background, hobbies and so on. To be precise, otherwise, investors are likely to look at your analysis with some suspicion.
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Next, you need to look at who your prospective competitors are. As daunting a task as this might sound, you need to know what your business’s rivals are doing. This might include their approach to marketing, their social media output, their standards of customer service, how frequently they launch new products, how they perform in customer reviews, and other vital details.
Your product offering
In your plan, you need to explain what products and/or services your business will offer. This must include the specific benefits, how new products are produced (including how raw materials are sourced), pricing, intellectual property (where relevant), and what makes your offering distinct from those of your competitors. Investors need to be convinced of both the viability and profitability of your product.
A marketing strategy is crucial to getting new businesses off the ground and expanding them. You should recap your growth strategy and target market before explaining how you intend to market your business. This marketing plan can include online promotion, loyalty schemes, media ads, and customer retention strategies.
Your business plan must address the financial aspects of running your business. If you’re launching a brand new startup, you obviously won’t have past financial records to discuss. However, you should still cover budgetary issues in your plan.
You’ll need to include income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and profit and loss statements for established businesses. Three years of reporting is ideal, if possible. Needless to say, you must ensure that all figures are accurate and reliable.
Management and staffing
It’s important to address staffing in your business plan. Talk about your existing team and, where applicable, where you’re looking to recruit additional talent. You should also address your legal structure, whether you’ll be forming an LLC or incorporating your business , and the cost of hiring legal experts and accountants to ensure compliance.
Tips to make business planning easier
When you’re starting a business , there’s a lot to do! Writing a comprehensive plan for your business might sound like quite an undertaking, but there are some things you can do to make the whole thing less strenuous. Firstly, you should keep it concise. Truly comprehensive business plans need to cover much ground, but they don’t need to be epic in length; 10 to 20 pages should suffice.
Your plan should also be written in plain and straightforward language. Could you not make it impenetrable? Don’t forget that investors and others receive many business plans, and they only have so much time in their day. Please get to the point, and make sure your plan is divided into clear sections so that it’s easier to digest.
Finally, make sure your goals and objectives are clear in your own mind. You need to know what you’re looking to achieve with your business and over what time frame. You might well find that your objectives change as you progress through the writing of your business plan, and that’s okay: you might learn new things in the process!
Business plan templates
There are plenty of business plans which you can find online, and it’s worth reading some of these to help you get a better idea of what you need to include in yours. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples by way of explanation. Here’s the first:
One-page business plan
A one-page business plan provides a quick overview of what your business is and what it does. It effectively condenses your full-length business plan into key points. This is particularly useful to potential investors, as it allows them to digest the ideas and strategies underpinning your business easily. Here what it needs to include:
- Business overview. This should cover your central vision for the business and the products or services it will provide in no more than two or three sentences for each.
- Market research. Talk briefly about your competitors and what sets your business apart from them. Please list your main rival businesses and, again in no more than a few sentences, summarise why your business meets certain consumer needs better than its competitors. It’s worth noting your audience’s demographics here.
- Marketing and sales strategy. Which marketing channels and materials do your business intend to use? What about its pricing strategy for marketing? Provide a concise discussion of these points in this section.
- Objectives and metrics. List three key objectives which you have set for your business and the metrics you will use to measure its progress in meeting them.
2. Comprehensive business plan
A comprehensive business plan needs to detail what your business aims to achieve and why investors and lenders should back it. We’ve already listed the key areas you’ll need to address in the last section, but here’s a summary of what needs to be included:
- Title page and table of contents. List your business’s information—its address, contact details, website—and the date on which the plan was produced on its title page. You should also include a table of contents listing the various sections included in the plan and their respective page numbers so that readers know where to find them.
- Executive summary. While your executive summary should be included at the start of your business plan, it needs to be written last, as we’ve mentioned. It should be no more than two pages long. Discuss your company’s mission, introduce its management, and explain what products and services it offers.
You should also summarise your market research and provide an overview of your financial projections for the coming years. If you’re launching a startup, you’ll also need to discuss its initial financing requirements.
- Market overview. Provide a bird’s-eye view of the wider market you’re operating in. Discuss relevant trends, as well as sales and revenue statistics. Please explain how your business will find a distinctive niche in this market and how it will succeed.
- Market research and competitor analysis. Demonstrate to potential investors that you’ve undertaken a thorough analysis of the market you’ll be operating in and the competitors you’ll be up against. Define your customer base and explain how your products and services will give you a competitive advantage over your rivals.
- Marketing and sales strategy. How do you intend to attract customers? This section should cover four key areas: your product or service offering, pricing strategy, sales and distribution, and marketing.
- Ownership structure, management and staffing. Discuss your firm’s legal structure (including ownership), management and staffing requirements, as well as external services and expertise such as lawyers and accountants.
- Operating plan. Your operating plan must cover your business’s physical requirements, including office, warehouse and retail space, equipment, supplies (including where these are sourced from) and so on.
- Financial plan. As far as prospective investors are concerned, this is the key section of your business plan and the one they’ll be paying the closest attention to. You’ll need to include projected cash flow statements, financial statements and a balance sheet.
Investors will be keen to ensure that your business is potentially profitable before deciding to invest in it, so you should also include a breakeven analysis illustrating what it would take to make a profit.
- Appendices. If you have other documentation that needs to accompany other sections of your plan—CVs of owners and management staff, detailed competitor analyses, owners’ credit histories or further information about your products and services, for instance—then make sure you include it as appendices at the end of the plan.
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How to revise your business plan.
It should go without saying that your business plan will need revisiting every so often. As businesses evolve, their plans should evolve with them. You should continually revisit your objectives to see how far you’re meeting them and reassess what your rivals are regularly doing.
Revising your business plan is an opportunity to assess whether you’ve met existing objectives and pursue new ones. As we’ve mentioned, the reality of running a business often diverges from the plan that’s on paper. Therefore, you should tweak your plan periodically so that it more accurately represents where your business is at and where it’s going.
Useful tools for writing a business plan
Numerous tools can help you in writing your business plan. The US Small Business Administration has created a ‘Build Your Business Plan Tool’ that provides a step-by-step guide to writing a plan. You can write it section by section, saving your progress and returning to it later (it’ll be stored for up to six months).
You can also find resources to help you build your business plan on the gov.uk, the UK government website. It’s also worth looking at business plan software, including the following:
- Enloop : A tool that automatically writes your business plan for you based on your specific details. Features include shared users capability and automatically generated financial reports.
- Rocketlawyer : An interview-based online tool that guides you step-by-step through the creation of your business plan. Answer a few questions, and your business plan should be ready in minutes.
- LivePlan : Business plan software with instructions showing you what you should include at each stage of writing your plan. It also features a library of more than 500 sample plans you can use for guidance and inspiration.
- BizPlan : A guided business plan builder who has been acclaimed for its user-friendly design. Once you’ve drawn up your plan, you can share it directly with investors or via Fundable, an online capital-raising tool.
- PlanGuru : Business plan software that makes it easy to set financial goals for your business and monitor its performance. Its integrated income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet allow you to make more accurate long-term forecasts.
- Wrike : Project management and business planning software used by more than two million entrepreneurs across 140 different countries. Ready-made templates help you get your business plan into shape.
- Platinium Pro : A strategic business planning tool with a range of useful features, including automated contents tables, sample business plans, a user-friendly dashboard and a host of relevant educational resources.
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Originally published May 18, 2021, updated Dec 17, 2021
Chris Goryn is Senior Business Development Manager for RingCentral Office, the leader in cloud communications solutions. He is passionate about helping customers move to the cloud, improving CX and creating value.
He has gained extensive experience in sales and marketing across SaaS, telecommunications, technology and tinance sectors within companies such as GE Capital, Vodafone, O2 and Timico.
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What are you looking for, how to write a business plan uk | free uk business plan template.
- Brought to you by Revolut Business
- 1. What is a business plan?
- 2. Download: Free UK business plan template
- 3. Getting started on a business plan
- 4. How to structure a business plan step-by-step
- 5. Business plan examples
- 6. Business plan writing tips
You’ve got the brilliant business idea, you might have even started setting up or running your business, but writing a business plan and creating business proposals are vital for the launch and growth of any venture. It’s a document where you can organise all your ideas, create a company description, make sure that you’ve considered and researched everything, and ultimately decide that the business is viable. Commitment to making a business plan is a commitment to the business. Read our guide and download your free business plan template.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a document that details all the future plans and predictions for your business. It will explain your ideas, map out how they’ll be put into practice and provide relevant information and facts including the business details, management plan, operating plan, marketing and sales strategy , financial projections, and operational and team specifics.
A business plan is essential in helping you:
The business plan is a living, working document that should be read and reviewed regularly. If there are multiple directors or partners in the business then they should all be in agreement with what the plan outlines, the detailed information in the plan, and what is written in the plan. You will also need to share it with potential investors. The business plan will formalise all the ideas and assumptions, keep you focused, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
How long writing your business plan should take will depend on your business size, the complexities of it and what stage you’re at. The most important thing is that it’s user-friendly and doesn’t include any waffle. Get straight to the nitty-gritty so that your stakeholders are engaged when reading it and so that you are more likely to use and update it regularly. Your business plan will probably cover the first three to five years. It’s important to include all the right information (see the checklist below) but it’s not a document to spend too long on. It’s more important that you are spending time running the business.
There are lots of business plan examples out there but typically yours should include:
- What your business will do
- The business structure and operations
- Team members and their expertise
- Market analysis to see current and projected state of the market and industry
- How your business will sell and market
- Startup costs and funding required
- Financial projections
- Legal requirements
Writing a business plan will allow you to take a step back and look at the business more objectively, predicting potential issues in advance, such as financial forecasts, and coming up with solutions or a shift in how you originally thought that you would do something.
Download: Free UK business plan template
We want to take the stress out of writing a business plan. Our free downloadable UK business plan template will guide you on everything you need to include and get your business primed for success.
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Getting started on a business plan
Before you begin to make your business plan, keep these three things at the forefront of your mind.
Focus on what makes you unique
Be creative with your plan, shout about your unique selling proposition (USPs) and what makes you different. Represent your brand using language and visuals, and talk about why you and your team are best to run this business.
Don’t over complicate it
Keep it concise so that you can get on with running the business and so the business plan is an easily readable and usable document. Too much detail in the plan can become confusing.
Be realistic and honest
The business plan will give you an indication of where you’re supposed to be. Review it every few months, update it as you go and change your activities in line with it. It will be impossible for you to predict everything so just give it your best shot and be prepared to be flexible.
How to structure a business plan step-by-step
The business plan should follow this format with these six sections.
You must be logged in to use this checklist
The executive summary should always be written last. Think of it as a one-pager giving an overview of all the best bits of your plan. If the executive summary doesn’t captivate and interest the reader then it’s unlikely that they will read the rest of your plan.
Describe your what, where, who and why - including your product/service, brand, location, business model and size.
This section will involve the most amount of research as you study the current and projected conditions of the market and the industry, and look at what your competition is doing , before making your own marketing plans .
Explain the experience, skills and credentials of all the people involved. Why are they the right people to make this a success?
Detail your required facilities, premises, systems and software.
This section translates everything into numbers - your startup and running costs, funding , revenue projections with a cash flow forecast .
Business plan examples
Take a look at these business plan sections in more detail to see examples of the sort of details you should include, depending on your type of business.
1. The executive summary
Give a topline description of:
- In the most basic terms, what is the business? Is it a product or service? What does it do and how?
- Why is there a need for this business?
- What does this business do better than similar existing businesses?
- What experience or skills do you have that will help make this business a success?
- How will it make money?
- Who will your customers be?
- Who are your main competitors?
- How will people find out about you?
- What is the opportunity for investors?
2. Business details and description
- Describe your what, where, who and why – including your product/service, brand, location, business model and size.
- Food (lunch / dinner)
- Private hire for meetings / parties / events
- Putting on own events (music, comedy)
- Classes (e.g. cocktail making)
- What will the legal structure of your company be (LTD, PLC, sole trader, partnership, charity, social enterprise)?
3. Marketing and sales strategy
4. management and employees.
- Who will make up your team and what relevant skills and experience do they have?
- Do you need to employ people?
- What friends/family/business contacts do you have with skills that might be able to help you (preferably for free)?
- Do you need to outsource anything?
5. Operational set up
- What premises do you need? Where will they be? Where will you work from?
- What assets/tools do you require (and which of these do you already have)?
- Are there any licences that you require? Any other legal considerations?
6. Financial plan and projections
Business plan writing tips.
Writing a business plan can take some time and some areas of the plan will be easier to tackle than others.
- Make initial notes every time you think of something and don’t worry if you can’t cover all points at the start.
- When you are ready to start to write the plan, make sure you use sections and these are in a logical order.
- It is important that your plan is simple, accurate and easy to follow if you are going to ask others to look at it.
- Try to avoid jargon or terms that only people in your type of industry will understand.
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- Business insights
Writing a business plan
Your guide to a successful business plan
A good business plan defines what you want to achieve and how you intend to achieve it. Our guide could help you write yours.
Define your business
It’s important that you define what type of small business you are so that everyone you work with understands what you’re trying to achieve. A comprehensive business plan is the best way to go about defining your business.
Your plan should include:
- What your business will do
- The products or services it will provide
- How customers will access your products or services (eg in a shop, online or by phone)
- Your approach to pricing
- Your long and short-term objectives – including a series of benchmarks if possible that you can check your progress against
Know your customers
Make sure you know as much as possible about who will be buying from you. For example, if you’re marketing to consumers, here are some questions you might want to ask. Knowing the answers will help you promote your business much more effectively:
- How old are they?
- What do they do for a living?
- What are their lifestyles like?
- Do they already buy the product or service?
- Why will they buy from you and no one else?
- How will you tell them about your business?
Naming your business
The name you choose for your business should reflect the image you want to project to your market. Pick one that’s easy to pronounce and remember, but do some research first. Make sure your chosen name is not already in use, it’s available as a web address and will work on your business stationery. You may also consider looking into the name’s meaning in different countries and languages – especially if you see yourself expanding internationally in the future.
If you have the facilities, you could test various names to see how people from your proposed customer base react. There are companies that provide this service, or you could do it informally by asking friends and family.
Taking on staff
If you take on employees – even part-time – you’ll need to familiarise yourself with employment law and know how to get the best out of your staff. There are plenty of guides that will help you to understand the law and make decisions to suit your business, such as the number of employees you need, what you should offer them and if they will be contractors or permanent. Here are some key things to consider:
- What are my responsibilities and what do I need to provide them with?
- How will I make sure they are properly managed and trained?
- What should I pay them and does it match with the pay offered for similar roles in the area?
- Does it comply with the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage?
- How will they benefit my business and help me to achieve my goals?
Writing it all down
When you write your business plan, remember to be clear, realistic and concise. It’s important to consider that someone reading it in the future might not be familiar with jargon or more technical terms, so writing it in plain English is advisable. You should use research and, if possible, evidence, to support your conclusions and include an action plan. Nothing needs to be set in stone, however; business plans are dynamic documents – meaning that you should adjust your plan as your business develops. See our in-depth guide to writing a business plan [PDF, 6.2MB]
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Read time: 5 mins Added: 26/05/2023
A compelling and comprehensive business plan is an important asset for any business. It helps you to understand where you are now and where you want to be - then sets out how you intend to get there. If you need funding for your business, a detailed business plan can help give lenders or investors the confidence to invest.
5 things you’ll learn from this guide:
1. Why you should write a business plan
2. What to include in your plan
3. How to set SMART objectives
4. How to develop your strategy
5. The importance of financial forecasts
Why you should write a business plan
What to include in your plan.
- How to set SMART objectives
- How to develop your strategy
- The importance of financial forecasts
The process of writing a business plan forces you to explore your business idea in detail and identify what you need to do to make it happen. It will quickly show up any flaws or potential stumbling blocks, allowing you to make your mistakes on paper rather than in your actual business.
A well-thought-out business plan will:
- set a direction for the business and help you create an action plan
- help you and your staff focus on what's important
- show your commitment to banks, investors, colleagues and employees
- help you to spot problems early on and tackle them effectively
- set targets and evaluate your success
- help you attract better-qualified staff
Business planning isn't just for when you're setting up – you should keep reviewing and updating your plan regularly. A plan is always a useful asset for persuading others to invest time, money and effort in your business, and keep your plans on track.
There are some key elements of a business plan:
Executive summary While this comes first, you should write it last. It’s a concise summary of all the key information in the full plan, and is your elevator pitch on paper.
Mission statement What is the purpose of your business – what problem are you aiming to solve for customers? You need to outline what you want your business to achieve, apart from making a profit.
Objectives How do you want your business to be performing in a year, and five years? You need to define your measures of success, making sure they are SMART.
Objectives should meet each of these criteria:
Specific Outline clearly what is required in a simple statement.
Measurable Include some type of metric that will enable you to monitor progress and know when the objective has been achieved.
Achievable The objective should be challenging, yet grounded in business reality.
Relevant The focus should be on achieving the outcome, not the means of doing so.
Time-Bound There should be a target date by which the objective must be achieved.
Your strategy outlines how you intend to achieve your objectives. It details both the environment you’re operating in, and how you operate in it.
It’s vital that you understand who your potential customers are, and what they want. Alongside that, you should research who your competitors are - not just businesses that do the same as you, but those that meet your customers needs in a different way too (indirect competitors). Our Understanding your market guide has more information.
You also need to be aware of the external opportunities and threats for your business. Economic conditions, changes in legislation and new technologies can all have an impact on your business. You should identify any which are relevant to your business and outline how you will respond to them.
Lloyds Bank business customers have access to Business KnowledgeBox as part of Internet Banking, which contains guides to setting up and running over 500 types of business and includes key market trends and issues, and trading and compliance considerations.
Our customers also have access to the Lloyds Bank International Trade Portal which provides a gateway to explore international trade opportunities and detailed market information.
You’ll also need to outline how you’ll operate including:
- Who your suppliers will be
- The staff, facilities and equipment you’ll need
- How you’ll promote your product or service
Financial forecasts will help you, as well as potential lenders or investors, to understand if you have a viable business. You should provide details of your financial forecasts – how much you’ll sell and what the costs will be. Outline where the start-up funds will come from, and at what point you’ll need further investment for growth.
Key figures you need to capture are:
- Sales forecasts
- Costs and overheads – staff, facility, energy
- Assets – any significant company property
- Investments, loans and grants A breakdown of costs, including tables detailing:
- Start-up costs
- Projected cash flow
- Projected profit and loss
- Projected balance sheet
You can also find more information and a range of business plan templates and examples at www.gov.uk .
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Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH has its registered office at Thurn-und-Taxis Platz 6, 60313 Frankfurt, Germany. The company is registered with the Amtsgericht Frankfurt am Main, HRB 111650. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH is supervised by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht.
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Business planning tips
On this page
Failing to plan is...well, you know the rest
To build a successful business, having a clear mission and specific goals is vital. The best way to do this is to write a thorough business plan setting out exactly how you're going to turn your dreams into reality.
Do's and don'ts when writing a plan
Do be realistic.
While it's important to show ambition, be realistic when projecting your results.
Do check for accuracy
It may be an old cliche, but you only get one chance to make a first impression. Make sure you triple check the accuracy of your content and ask a colleague or mentor to proof read it with a fresh pair of eyes.
Do your research
Make sure all research is up to date and accurate, and that any claims can be substantiated. You need to be aware of the good, the bad and the ugly!
Don't include your CV
Your business plan is about the company you intend to run, not ones you may have run in the past. A link to a completed LinkedIn profile will tell someone all they need to know about you.
Don't say you have no competition
There's always competition, the key is understanding your market and convincing your customers that your product is superior.
Don't start at the start
Start with an executive summary. This should be one page long and is your elevator pitch on paper.
6 steps to writing a business plan
Our in-depth six-step guide can help you put together a robust business plan and set you up for success or expansion.
A business plan is a written description of your company, your aspirations and ambitions, and the methods by which you can achieve your goals.
Creating a business plan gives you a clearer understanding of what you need to do to reach your objectives. By producing a detailed business plan containing facts, figures, statistics and a summary of your skills, you will give potential investors all the information they need to buy in to your proposal.
Once you've decided to write a business plan, the next step is deciding what needs to be included. And remember, your plan should be flexible.
An executive summary exists to summarise your ambitions and approach in a concise way. This is not always an easy task, but it's a good way to ensure you remain focussed on both the bigger picture and your core ambitions.
Your business summary should
- Describe your business - how you want it to grow, the niche you fill, why you think it can succeed
- Describe the sector it sits in - if the sector is strong, where will you fit? If it's performing poorly how will you buck the trend?
It's worth giving your product or service a section of its own. Outline what makes it different from similar offerings and discuss the reasons that you will succeed.
Aims, objectives and audience
You should cover:
- Where do you want your idea to go and how are you going to get there?
- In a year's time what shape will your business be in?
- Will you have secured investment, or hired additional members of staff?
- Will you be able to cope if you fail to hit projected financial targets?
It's vital that all of these factors are assessed prior to launching or expanding a business. Research carried out by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has discovered that over half (54%) of all UK businesses that fail within the first three years of operation do so because of poor management.
Get to know your audience
You must have an understanding of your core demographic and how you are going to engage them. The more intelligence potential investors can get from reading the plan, the better.
Operations and organisation
It's good to have a solid concept, strong product and ambitious goals, but to grow a successful company, you will also need a detailed understanding of job roles, company structure and the day-to-day running of your operation.
This section of the plan is often the most detailed. Overlooking just one of the below areas could be extremely harmful when it comes to launching a company or seeking investment.
Areas to cover
- Location - where will you be based and why?
- Suppliers - who are they and what are the contract terms?
- Production - will anything be outsourced?
- Distribution - how will you deliver your product?
- Employees - how many do you need and what will they do?
All aspects of your business plan are essential in their own right, but it's important to make sure the financial elements are accurate and in order.
Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing that because they are determined to succeed, they will be able to fund business growth by reinvesting the business' profits. However this rarely works, suppliers need to be paid prior to the customer getting their hands on the goods, meaning you will need some kind of initial investment or loan to cover supply costs.
- What kind of financing you need
- How much money you require
- Whether you are willing to give away equity in the business in return for funding
- When you will be able to pay back any loan you take out
How much, what for, and from where?
Always consider these three questions when planning your finances, and always be cautious in your answers.
Measuring success and risk
No business is guaranteed to succeed. Investors understand that handing any amount of money over to a startup is a risky decision, but it's important to reassure them. Highlight that you are aware of the risks, have plans in place to avoid pitfalls, and are willing to change course or adopt different methods should you need to.
Types of business risk
- Compliance - If you fall foul of laws and regulations, your business could fail before it has a chance to properly grow.
- Operational - Operational risk can come in many forms. It could relate to employee error or a water leak that damages equipment.
- Financial - Nearly all businesses will get into debt in their opening years, but it is how that debt is managed that is important.
- Reputational - Building customer confidence in your brand and rewarding them with a quality service is an essential ingredient for all businesses.
Need a little more help?
You can find additional information and a range of business plan templates and examples on the www.gov.uk website.
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From the start, you’ll need to think about your approach to running your business and what support you might need to make it happen.
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Doing a business plan will improve your idea. It helps you think about your business from different points of view. The process will flag up unseen risks, but also new opportunities. Aside from helping refine your idea, a business plan will move it forward. It’ll give you a concrete set of steps to go from ‘I should’ to ‘I did’.
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- Society and culture
- Community and society
- Libraries: alternative delivery models toolkit
- Department for Culture, Media & Sport
- Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
Stage 7: business plan
Published 28 March 2017
© Crown copyright 2017
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: [email protected] .
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/libraries-alternative-delivery-models-toolkit/stage-7-business-plan
This section sets out the process and areas to consider when developing a business plan. Producing a business plan provides an opportunity to plan, in detail, the way in which the alternative delivery model (ADM) will operate and will be a guiding document for the new delivery model in its first few years of development.
A business plan is typically needed when the identified preferred option requires a change in delivery model to be led by the in-house team. This could be a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC), Public Service Mutual (PSM), joint venture or in-house with re-engineering.
If the preferred option is to outsource the service, the next step will not be to produce a business plan. Instead you will need to develop a service specification along with documents to support the relevant procurement process (such as a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and an Invitation to Tender).
The importance of engaging stakeholders in developing the business plan should not be underestimated. While this may take more time, it will create broader buy-in to a shared vision and smooth the journey of transition in the months to come.
2. Why develop a business plan?
The business plan is a useful document that allows stakeholders to understand what the new delivery model will do and how it will operate. The document will also serve as a future reference for the library service’s management team, enabling them to test the service’s development against the original vision. It is good practice for organisations to repeat the business planning process every 3 to 5 years. It may be helpful to link the period of your initial business plan to that of the initial contract (for example 3 or 5 years).
The process of developing a business plan is relatively fluid. Although it is a written document, the content for each section should be thought through before being documented. It can be helpful to use workshop sessions for this process, which also allow for stakeholder input. In addition to workshops, a certain level of research and desk-work is required to complete elements such as the market analysis and the financial model.
We have a 5 year business plan and annually produce a service plan for the year ahead which is shared with and approved by the council. Plans for the future include:
- expanding and developing new and attractive services for current and new users of our existing provision in Devon and potentially expanding our reach geographically by bidding to run other library services
- growing our technology services through expansion of our Fab Lab model into other libraries and environments, including local schools
- expanding our local, national and international partnerships with a wide range of complementary organisations to innovate and enhance our service offer
- increasing our reach and impact by developing libraries as spaces for high quality arts and culture
- developing new models through research into the social value of libraries and our wide range of services
- developing our own infrastructure as an independent organisation, we already have our own financial system and, over the medium term, will have our own payroll and HR systems and an independent IT infrastructure
3. business plan structure.
Typical areas covered in a business plan are outlined below. We have developed a (downloadable) business plan template (including guidance notes) that can help you to develop your business plan.
Vision and purpose
This section describes what the new delivery model wants to achieve, and how it will do this. It also helps to define the identity of the new organisation for both staff and customers.
Our business plan has also always been informed by our own ambitions and the way we align resources to deliver these. This is bigger than a business plan for divestment, and wider than the council’s vision, which was by necessity informed by its statutory duties.
It also confirmed the need for expert commissioning - a strong client for the council when agreeing the transition, and commissioning when the service is being provided independently. Suffolk Libraries IPS
This section describes the external market in which the delivery model will operate. This should be considered at a number of levels (locally, regionally and nationally) and will include aspects which you will have started to already develop during the case for change and case for externalisation. These are:
- likely demand for the service
- analysis of typical customers
- competitor analysis
- PESTLE analysis - looking at external factors that may influence the market
- SWOT analysis - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
A clear and concise description of the services that will be intended to be delivered by the new delivery model. This may include both the initial services (delivered at the point of go-live) alongside future services to be developed. It may be helpful to describe services in terms of the way they will be experienced by different stakeholders, including library users, Friends Groups, the council and the local community.
Developing your future service profile is an important part of the business planning process. As libraries provide a wide range of service, it’s not easy to look at each service from a commercial perspective. It’s often difficult to accurately map demand for services and understand the true cost base and benefits realised by each service. This is ongoing for us as part of our overall development of the organisation.
We worked hard during set-up to determine a clear vision and purposes for our organisation and in our first year, we have become much more aware of the true costs of the different services we provide. Both these activities are helping us to make decisions about which services we should invest or disinvest in. However, we also weigh up the social value of our services when taking decisions so that we don’t inadvertently cause a negative impact on the difference our libraries make to individuals and local communities.
This section will consider key questions including the legal form of the new organisation, its governance and management, and how any surpluses will be used. We strongly recommend that you access expert legal advice when considering your legal form.
Consider the intended membership of your board of directors, the intended role of each director, and who from your senior management team should have a position on the board by right of their position within the delivery model (for example the ex-officio director).
We opted for a conventional legal form, a company limited by guarantee and registered charity. This allows us to have staff and community members as members, be governed by a board of trustees, and ensure 100% of any surplus generated is reinvested into library services. This form facilitates a more entrepreneurial, commercial approach but within clearly defined parameters of public benefit.
If offers transparency as a tried and tested model, well recognised by funders and partners and gives us flexibility in how we operate. It allowed us to apply for registered charity status which in turn ensures the organisation qualifies for business rates relief; and means we can access funding we may not otherwise be able to.
This section will introduce the proposed leadership team for the delivery model, and consider the staffing structure. You should also consider training needs of both the leadership team and the future workforce.
Bring in some independent commercial experience and get good HR and employment advice on all the processes your undertake. Think about:
- which terms and conditions you might want to change - do you want to keep public sector terms on sickness and any enhanced payments?
- whether you want to stay with the national employer negotiations, if not you can create your own with your own methods of awards and recognition
Suffolk Libraries IPS
This section will identify and prioritise a range of stakeholders that are important to the new delivery model. This could vary from council commissioners to library users. A clear engagement strategy for influencing these stakeholders should be outlined. A (downloadable) stakeholder mapping and communication planning template has been provided to support you during this process.
Quality assurance and monitoring
This section should outline the delivery model’s approach to assuring high-quality services to its customers, considering aspects such as risk management and performance management of contracts held by the delivery model.
This section should set out the practical resources that will be needed to deliver services. This section should include enabler and infrastructure elements, including:
- premises and office space
- equipment and resources
- legal requirements and quality standards
- partnerships with other agencies and/or suppliers
- external advisors
- supporting functions (such as IT, HR and payroll)
It should also include consideration of assets and staff.
This is a crucial section of the business plan which will come under close scrutiny if you decide to seek external or grant funding. It will need to demonstrate that you have considered how the financial management of the delivery model will work, and show that the organisation is forecasted to be financially sustainable over the medium term. The content of this section will include summary financial projections, based on your 5 year financial model.
There is a contradiction between the need for a strong financially robust business plan that convinces the council that there are both short and long term savings, whilst trying to reassure staff in relation to terms and conditions and not gambling on a windfall of external grants, donations and income generation. Our approach was to be realistic in the hard savings.
Inspire Culture, Learning and Libraries
We recommend that you access specialist VAT advice to consider any VAT implications for your new delivery model.
Understand how your services’ finances will be different from being in the council. Work with external accountants as soon as possible. Be clear about where you will generate income from and be realistic about the possibilities.
This section outlines a plan showing activities required from the sign-off of the business plan to the go-live date for the new organisation. Special consideration should be given to timescales and dependencies relating to technical aspects of the process, including the consultation process, setting up a pension scheme, transferring assets, establishing the company as a legal entity, and setting up support systems (such as IT, HR and payroll). For further information please refer to Stage 8 - Transition .
This final section should capture risks, their anticipated impact, and the actions that have been identified to mitigate and manage them.
4. Intended outcomes/outputs
Once you have developed the full business plan for the new delivery model, it should be formally signed off by the council. This ensures that key stakeholders are appropriately sighted on the vision for the new organisation and understand how it intends to operate.
5. Lessons learnt and critical success factors
The CEO’s of the current library service delivery models have identified the following learning points in relation to the business planning process:
Independent advice from a business consultancy was incredibly valuable because it was the robustness of the business plan that enabled us to give confidence to internal council decision-makers, particularly those in finance and legal departments. We learnt a whole raft of new skills that we hadn’t needed before because the wider council took care of it for us. More than anything the process showed us how important it would be to bring new skills into the organisation once it was established.
The most challenging aspect was quickly obtaining the information that we needed in order to plan effectively. You need to pull together up-to-date information from across different council departments and often this was information that hadn’t been needed before.
There was dedicated council support for us initially, but it soon became clear we needed our own and it had to be independent. Paying for it has to be part of the transition and set up process. It’s important to get independent contractual, HR and employment advice from organisations which have a strong background in charitable, public contracts or commercial ventures. Conflicts of interest will arise during your discussions with the council, so accessing independent support is crucial.
The next section covers the eighth stage of the process - planning and undertaken transition to a new model
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300+ Business Plan Examples
Below you can choose from over 300 free business plan examples within numerous industries. You’ll also learn the answers to key sample business plan questions and find tips on how to write your business plan. Finally, you’ll see a full-length business plan sample. Rest assured that you’re in good hands; over the past 20+ years, Growthink has helped over 1 million companies develop simple business plans to start and grow their businesses.
Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here
If you’d like an interactive, fill-in-the-blanks template that also automatically completes your financial projections, we recommend Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan .
This is particularly true if you’re looking for funding from a bank (traditional loan, line of credit, SBA loan, etc.), angel investors or venture capitalists .
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1. Why is utilizing an example business plan a good idea?
Sample business plans can help you quickly and easily write a business plan for your own business. Business plans are an important tool for any business, but they can be challenging to create. Sample business plan will help you understand business plan format , how to utilize a business plan template , and more.
Business plan examples may even help you with the different sections of a plan, including market analysis, company description, cash flow statements/business financial statements, and more. Business plans can also show you how a quality plan in your exact business plan category is organized and shows you the appropriate business communications style to use when writing your business plan.
2. Who would benefit from using an example business plan?
Any entrepreneur or business owner who has never written a business plan before can benefit from an example or sample plan. New business owners often start with business plan templates , which are helpful but are sometimes more useful after reviewing other full business plans.
A good sample plan can be a step-by-step guide as you work on your business planning and business idea. Once you have a sense for the flow, specs, and details, etc. that business plans have, utilizing a business plan template will help you pull everything together, helping you create a plan investors and other stakeholders will value. A solid plan will also help you if you need a bank loan, which may require a startup business plan.
3. How do you get started with a sample business plan and maximize its benefit?
First you should read the business plan thoroughly. Study both the type of information provided in key sections like the executive summary, target market analysis, summary, etc., as well as the format and style of the plan. As you read, you may find yourself thinking through things such as improving or evaluating your business planning process, your business idea, or reconsidering who you want to write your business plan for. This is OK and part of the process. In fact, when you start writing a business plan for the first time, it will be much easier because you’ve gone through this process.
After this initial read, outline your business plan and copy in from the sample plan sections that apply to your business. For instance, if the sample plan included public relations in their marketing and sales plan, and you will also use this tactic, you can copy it into your plan and edit it as appropriate. Finally, answer the other questions answered in the sample plan in ways that reflect your unique business.
Writing a business plan can seem daunting. Starting your business plan writing process by reviewing a plan that’s already been created can remove a lot of mental and emotional barriers while helping you craft the best plan you can.
4. When should you not use a sample business plan?
If your business is unlike any other, using a sample business plan will not be as effective. In this situation, writing a business plan from scratch utilizing a business plan template is probably your best path forward.
As an example, Facebook’s early business plan was unlike others since it was paving a new path and way of doing business. But, groundbreaking new businesses like Facebook are not the norm, and the vast majority of companies will benefit from utilizing sample business plans.
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The business plan example below is for Shoutmouth, a company that enjoyed much success in the early 2000’s and which was able to raise funding. While the plan’s premise (social networking) is not as unique now as it was then, the format and structure of this business plan still holds.
I. Executive Summary
Launched in late February 2007, Shoutmouth.com is the most comprehensive music news website on the Internet .
Music is one of the most searched and accessed interests on the Internet. Top music artists like Akon receive over 3 million searches each month. In addition, over 500 music artists each receive over 25,000 searches a month.
However, music fans are largely unsatisfied when it comes to the news and information they seek on the artists they love. This is because most music websites (e.g., RollingStone.com, MTV.com, Billboard.com, etc.) cover only the top eight to ten music stories each day – the stories with mass appeal. This type of generic coverage does not satisfy the needs of serious music fans. Music fans generally listen to many different artists and genres of music. By publishing over 100 music stories each day, Shoutmouth enables these fans to read news on all their favorite artists.
In addition to publishing comprehensive music news on over 1200 music artists, Shoutmouth is a social network that allows fans to meet and communicate with other fans about music, and allows them to:
- Create personal profiles
- Interact with other members
- Provide comments on news stories and music videos
- Submit news stories and videos
- Recommend new music artists to add to the community
- Receive customized news and email alerts on their favorite artists
Shoutmouth is uniquely qualified to succeed due to the following reasons:
- Entrepreneurial track record : Shoutmouth’s CEO and team have helped launch numerous successful ventures.
- Affiliate marketing track record : Online affiliate marketing expertise has been cited as one of MySpace’s key success factors. Over the past two years, Shoutmouth’s founders have run one of the most successful online affiliate marketing programs, having sold products to over 500,000 music customers online.
- Key milestones completed : Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 to-date to staff the company (we currently have an 11-person full-time team), build the core technology, and launch the site. We have succeeded in gaining initial customer traction with 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May 2007.
Unique Investment Metrics
The Shoutmouth investment opportunity is very exciting due to the metrics of the business.
To begin, over the past two years, over twenty social networks have been acquired. The value in these networks is their relationships with large numbers of customers, which allow acquirers to effectively sell to this audience.
The sales price of these social networks has ranged from $25 to $137 per member. Shoutmouth has the ability to enroll members at less than $1 each, thus providing an extraordinary return on marketing expenditures. In fact, during an April 2007 test, we were able to sign-up 2,000 members to artist-specific Shoutmouth newsletters at a cost of only 43 cents per member.
While we are building Shoutmouth to last, potential acquirers include many types of companies that seek relationships with music fans such as music media/publishing (e.g., MTV, Rolling Stone), ticketing (e.g., Ticketmaster, LiveNation) and digital music sales firms (e.g., iTunes, The Orchard).
Financial Strategy, Needs and Exit Strategy
While Shoutmouth’s technological, marketing and operational infrastructure has been developed, we currently require $3 million to execute on our marketing and technology plan over the next 24 months until we hit profitability.
Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to become a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.
Topline projections over the next three years are as follows:
II. Shoutmouth Overview
What is Shoutmouth?
Shoutmouth is an operating company of The Kisco Group Inc. (TKG). Since 2003, TKG has capitalized on web-based marketing opportunities via launching targeted websites and generating web-based leads. TKG revenues in 2005 exceeded $1.3 million and grew to $3.5 million in 2006. Shoutmouth is currently the sole focus of TKG; all other TKG business units have been divested.
Development of Shoutmouth began in August 2006 and the site officially launched on February 21, 2007. Shoutmouth (located at www.shoutmouth.com) is the most comprehensive music news community on the Internet. The website covers 1,200 popular bands and music artists and offers more than 100 new music articles each day. In addition to providing news, Shoutmouth is a web community. That is, Shoutmouth members can actively participate on the site, by doing things such as commenting on news stories and submitting their own stories.
The Market Size and Need for Shoutmouth
The music market is clearly vast. According to IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, global music sales were $33.5 billion in 2005, with the U.S. accounting for $12.3 billion of that amount. Importantly, digitally music sales are seeing substantial growth, with IFPI reporting sales of $400 million in 2004, $1.1 billion in 2005 and $2 billion in 2006.
Online, music is the one of the most frequently searched and accessed interests. For example, according to Wordtracker, the music artist Eminem received over 1.7 million web searches in December 2006, while band Green Day received 534,000 searches.
To put these figures in perspective, top celebrities in other entertainment fields receive but a fraction of this search volume. For example, December 2006 search volumes for select sports stars and actors were as follows: Kobe Bryant, 122K; Tiger Woods, 88K; Cameron Diaz, 332K; and Tom Cruise, 82K.
Conversely, 225 music artists received over 100,000 searches in December 2006, and over 500 music artists received over 25,000 searches.
This data is corroborated by Nielsen BuzzMetrics which plots the most popular topics bloggers are posting about. The chart to the right plots September 25, 2006 to March 25, 2007 and shows how music dominates other entertainment sectors online.
When searching for music artists online, fans, which are primarily between the ages of 13 and 35, are looking for news, pictures, lyrics, videos and audio files. In addition, fans enjoy publicly voicing their opinions about music and interacting with other fans.
There is currently no website besides Shoutmouth that provides comprehensive music news. Currently, to get the latest news on their favorite artists, fans must visit the official websites or fan websites of each of the artists they like . Even then, it is unlikely that the fan will get all the news that has occurred. To solve this problem, Shoutmouth scours the web and uncovers news from thousands of web sites.
What Shoutmouth Does and Will Offer
As of May 2007, the site covers the 1,200 most popular music artists (popularity primarily based on the number of web searches over the past 12 months for each artist).
Shoutmouth currently offers members the ability to:
- Read over 500 new music articles each week
- Read special features such as album reviews, interviews, new album release dates, top quotes of the week and other special reports
- Watch and rate music videos
- Listen to select music audio clips
- Comment on news stories and music videos
- Submit news stories that they see/hear of elsewhere
- Suggest new music artists to add to the site
- View articles by music artist or by genre (current genres include Rock, Pop, Rap, R&B, Country, and Electronic)
- Create a user profile that includes their favorite music artists, Shoutmouth friends, news stories submitted to Shoutmouth, and comments made. Members have the ability to find other members based on their favorite artists and via our search functions.
- Receive customized news and email alerts. Members can customize their “My News” page to include only artists they specify. Likewise, they can choose to receive email alerts whenever there is a new story on one of their favorite artists.
While establishing itself as the premier music news community, Shoutmouth will embark on the more aggressive goal of becoming the premier music community online . To accomplish this, Shoutmouth will begin to offer additional content (more videos, audio, pictures, lyrics, etc.) and additional functionality (music compatibility testing (e.g., if you like this, you’ll like this), voting capabilities, member-to-member messaging, etc.). We have already begun mapping out our content and technology growths plans to achieve this goal upon financing.
Importantly, Shoutmouth expects to be able to add massive amounts of relevant content (e.g., lyrics, reviews, pictures, video files, audio files, etc.) via member submissions and moderation. This is the same way that YouTube has been able to quickly add millions of videos and Wikipedia has been able to add millions of articles. Importantly, since established music websites (e.g., MTV, RollingStone.com, Billboard.com, etc.) are not community based, they would have to hire thousands of staff members to rival the content that Shoutmouth will have.
How We Get and Publish Our News
Currently, news stories that appear on Shoutmouth are gathered from numerous online sources. Shoutmouth’s staff writers find these stories by using RSS and News feeds that cover thousands of websites. In addition, Shoutmouth community members have the ability to submit stories they find elsewhere.
Typical stories include factual information plus the insight of the author. Shoutmouth editors ensure that all stories are properly classified by artist and genre, and that duplicate articles are filtered out.
Over the past three months, Shoutmouth has developed a solid infrastructure, which we consider a core competitive advantage, that that allows us to provide comprehensive music news . This infrastructure includes:
- Setting up hundreds of RSS feeds based on comprehensive research regarding sites from which to receive feeds
- Training our editorial team regarding identifying a story and weeding out duplicates
- Assigning music artists among our five-person editorial team to better manage work flow and avoid duplicate articles
We are working on a system to ensure that member-submitted articles are automatically routed to the appropriate member of Shoutmouth’s editorial team to improve our efficiencies further.
Shoutmouth’s Goal to Break News First
The majority (approximately 90%) of Shoutmouth’s articles are currently developed by our in-house editorial team, while the balance is submitted by members. In addition, virtually all of our articles are based on information gleaned from other websites. As such, we are generally not the first to publish news; however we are the first and only site to publish all the news in one easily-accessible place. The one current exception is news which is published on bands’ official MySpace pages; Shoutmouth generally publishes articles on this news 24 to 48 hours before it is reported by other news or music sites (due to our efficiencies in finding news).
Shoutmouth realizes that it will gain a key competitive advantage, and will generate significant market buzz, if it is able to report on music news stories before other media sources . To accomplish this, we have begun contacting publicity departments at record labels to gain direct access to music news. We expect these contacts to enable us to gain immediate and sometimes exclusive access to news which will help further establish Shoutmouth as the canonical source for music news. We also plan to more aggressively solicit member submissions of new, buzzworthy news events and will consider offering rewards for unique substantiated news (much the way paparazzi are compensated).
III. Competition in the Online Music Market
This section of the business plan provides an overview of the competitive landscape, discusses both indirect and direct competitors and then details Shoutmouth’s competitive advantages.
Because consumer demand for music on the Internet is so great, there are a vast number of music websites. In summary, we consider most sectors of the online music market (which are discussed below) to be indirect competitors and potentially partners, rather than direct competitors, because none of them focus on music news.
The reason we believe that no one focuses on music news is that it is very difficult to do. Because news is very important to music fans, most music websites offer news. However, they primarily get their news from organizations such as CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press and BBC. These large organizations only write about the music stories that have mass appeal, which traditionally amounts to 8-10 music news stories per day. However, since music fans are often zealots when it comes to their favorite artists, they are not merely interested in cover stories. For instance, a U2 fan cares about any U2 news, particularly news that a non-U2 fan might consider insignificant.
In fact, because Shoutmouth is the sole one-stop shop for getting comprehensive music news, there might be an opportunity to license our content to other music websites.
Sectors of the Online Music Market
Shoutmouth specifically comPs in the community-based music news market. While players in this market represent direct competitors, Shoutmouth faces indirect competitors in the following markets:
- Community-Based Sites
- Community-Based News Sites
- Community-Based Music Sites
- Traditional Music Websites
- Official Artist and Fan Sites
Each of these markets is described below.
A. Community-Based Sites
Community-based sites, also known as social networking sites, are websites in which members can create profiles, leave comments throughout the site, and communicate with other members among other features.
A June 2006 report by Piper Jaffray entitled “Silk Road: Social Networking is Here to Stay” effectively sums up the power and longevity of social networking:
“We believe social networking sites have become a permanent part of the fabric of web applications and are rapidly becoming one of the most popular activities online, potentially impacting how other popular services such as email, IM, and maybe even search are accessed.
As a clear indication of the growth rate and scale of social networking, consider this: MySpace monthly page views have now surpassed MSN or AOL in the U.S. and are nearly 75% of the size of Yahoo!. Social networking has filled a gap that was left by all the existing portals and web services and it is fulfilling a very important and basic function for millions of users: allowing them to express themselves and connect with their friends, with the two functions tightly integrated.
The leading sites such as MySpace (News Corp), Facebook, and others are amassing significant power in the new landscape of the Internet and the existing Internet companies are likely to have to work with these newcomers as they may yield material control on the flow of traffic to other applications.”
Social networking sites such as MySpace.com, Facebook.com, Tagged.com, and TagWorld.com have educated consumers regarding the value of these sites and how to use them. Their success has spurred genre-specific social networks such as community-based/social networking news sites and music sites, which are discussed below.
Shoutmouth doesn’t view established social networking sites as competitors since these sites have a general focus. That is, members talk about all aspects of life, from dating to music to movies, etc. Conversely, Shoutmouth is solely focused on music.
B. Community-Based News Sites
Community-based news sites are sites in which members decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not. For instance, on Digg.com, the most prominent community-based news site, members “Digg” stories that they feel are most newsworthy. The stories that the community feels are most important rise to Digg’s homepage, while less important stories get little attention.
Digg’s one million members can submit stories, “digg” stories, and comment on stories. Digg focuses on general news with a slant towards technology, gaming and unique/sensational news. While Digg does have a Music area within its Entertainment section, this receives little focus. In fact, at the time of the writing of this plan, Digg’s music home page only includes one article submitted within the past 48 hours. Furthermore, Digg doesn’t pare down the music category into sub-categories such as Rock and individual music artists. Conversely, these sub-categories are the entire focus of Shoutmouth.
Other sites that are similar to Digg include Newsvine.com, Spotback.com and Gabbr.com. Of most relevance is the Digg-like site for music, Noisetap.com, which was launched by Ticketmaster in January 2007.
Like Digg, Noisetap.com allows members to submit and vote for music stories. Noisetap.com is organized by music genre and not by music artist. This most likely will not satisfy the needs of many music fans since they don’t have the ability to find news on the specific artists they care most about. Likewise, without a full-time staff actively researching and publishing news stories at the artist-level, Noisetap.com will never be able to offer the comprehensive news that Shoutmouth does.
While Shoutmouth is currently similar to community-based news sites in that members can submit stories and comment on the news they find most interesting, no established player in the market provides a comprehensive focus on music. In addition, Shoutmouth sees these sites as marketing partners as we have and will continue to submit our stories on them to increase our readership.
C. Community-Based Music Sites
There are many community-based music websites, although none focuses on music news such as Shoutmouth. Conversely, these sites generally give members the ability to create and listen to song play lists. The community acts to help individual members find new music and new friends based on similarities in their music tastes. Prominent sites in this genre include Last.fm, Finetune, Pandora, RadioBlogClub, MyStrands, iLike and iJigg.
Last.fm is the most prominent community-based music site and is a good model with which to compare Shoutmouth. Likewise, we will benchmark our performance against Last.fm as we reach of goal of becoming the premier music news community and focus on becoming the premier music community.
According to Alexa, Last.fm is the 359th most visited site on the Internet. While Last.fm focuses on allowing members to create customized Internet stations based on their music tastes, the site has much additional content and social networking features. For instance, for each artist, Last.fm includes pictures, a bio, concert dates, discography, fans on Last.fm, and similar artists. Fans are also able to create journals and communicate with other fans. Key features that Last.fm doesn’t currently focus on include news and video.
D. Traditional Music Websites
Traditional music websites such as MTV.com, RollingStone.com, Billboard.com, NME.com, AOL Music, and Yahoo! Music tend to have many features such as news, reviews, pictures, videos and audio. While these sites are generally very well done and extremely popular, they are under-serving visitors in two core areas: music news and community .
These sites’ lack of music news stems from the difficulty in creating this news, specifically that it requires filtering through thousands of articles and websites to find relevant stories. Likewise, as discussed, these firms might wish to license our news content in the future.
Regarding community , none of the top music sites are thriving communities. Rather, either these sites offer no community features or they recently began offering select features (e.g., submitting reviews or commenting on articles). Even when available, the community features on these sites are afterthoughts and are not engrained within the core fabric of the sites.
While they haven’t been able to transform their current sites into communities, top music websites clearly understand the power of online music communities and have an appetite for them. For example, in January 2007, MTV invested in social networking website TagWorld. MTV also acquired RateMyProfessors.com and Quizilla.com (teen social network) in January 2007 and October 2006 respectively.
As mentioned previously, our vision is to build and incorporate additional technologies, and use our “army” of members to publish vast amounts of music content on Shoutmouth, in order to fully satisfy music fans and leapfrog traditional music sites in terms of their music content.
E. Official Artist and Fan Sites
Shoutmouth com’s with official music artist websites and fan websites. These sites often include news about the specific artist as well as pictures, videos and other relevant information.
On one hand, official music artist and fan websites are direct competitors to Shoutmouth. This is because some of these sites offer comprehensive news on the specific artist they cover. In addition, many offer forums, discussion boards or other ways to communicate with other fans.
However, two factors separate Shoutmouth from these types of sites: 1) breadth and 2) sophistication.
- Breadth : Most music fans love more than one artist. As such, in order to get the news they want, they would have to visit/join multiple fan or artist websites rather than getting all of their news from Shoutmouth.
- Sophistication : While some official music artist websites are technologically sophisticated, offering forums, networking and other worthwhile features, the majority of artist and fan websites have limited usability, functionality and networking ability. In fact, this deficiency has lead to the success of MusicToday, which provides front and back-end technology to power artist websites.
Specifically, MusicToday offers web design and hosting, develops sophisticated online stores, builds online fan clubs and offers web ticketing among other services to select top music artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Christina Aguilera, Kenny Chesney, Britney Spears and Usher. While offering sophisticated tools for select music artist websites, MusicToday offers little to no music news nor advanced social networking functions. For instance, the official Dave Matthews Band website offers less than one news story per month.
F. Direct Competitors: Community-Based Music News Sites
Shoutmouth’s direct competitors are other music news websites that have social or community features that allow users to join the site, submit articles, comment on articles, create public profiles and/or communicate with other members. Shoutmouth has identified one significant player who offers this service, AbsolutePunk.net.
AbsolutePunk.net has done a good job of building a user base (the site claims 125,000+ registered members and nearly 500,000 un-registered members). In addition, the user base is very active — the average story on their site receives approximately 20 comments. AbsolutePunk.net offers music news, reviews, pictures and interviews among other features.
On the negative side, AbsolutePunk.net’s articles are generally posted by one staff writer (as opposed to Shoutmouth’s five writers), most articles are simply one sentence posts rather than full articles, and no attempt seems to have been made to cover all news stories. In addition, the site only covers the punk music genre. Although “punk” is broadly defined on the site, the site doesn’t cater to genres such as R&B, rap and country among others, failing to satisfy the broader market.
AbsolutePunk.net is owned by Indieclick, a Los Angeles-based media company. According to the AbsolutePunk.net website, the site:
- Has developed a loyal (72% return rate) reader base
- 5,182,147 Posts
- 163,535 Threads
- 126,448 Members
- 1,711 Artist Profiles
- 20,774 Multimedia Files
- Approx 76,000 visits per day.
- Approx 276,000 pageviews per day.
Shoutmouth’s Competitive Advantage
In addition to being the first to fill the untapped market void for comprehensive music news, Shoutmouth’s competitive advantage in the market primarily includes the following:
Online Marketing Sophistication
Content Development Experience and Expertise
Shoutmouth’s team, primarily team members DL and PF, has operated an affiliate marketing business focusing on music for the past four years. Affiliate marketing is defined as a system of revenue sharing between one site (the affiliate) which features an ad or content designed to drive traffic to another site (the merchant). The affiliate receives a fee based on traffic to the merchant which converts to sales.
Our affiliate business has focused on connecting music fans, primarily aged 13 to 30, with music offers such as iPods and ringtones. Over the past two years, we have successful sold affiliated offers to over 500,000 customers. We have become a significant online advertiser, receiving Google’s “over 1 million leads” award, and are recognized as a major player among the top affiliate networks.
It is important to note that affiliate marketing success has been credited with part of MySpace’s success. This is because effective affiliate marketers understand how to drive and convert on Internet traffic.
Shoutmouth will employ its affiliate marketing techniques to drive traffic to Shoutmouth.com and enroll members. We will utilize technologies and proprietary techniques that allow us to monitor multiple metrics such as the cost per visitor, cost per member sign-up, etc., so that we can set and maintain profitable metrics.
Another venture that Shoutmouth team members, primarily PK and DL, launched was the development of over 3,000 niche websites. To create the content for these websites, we employed a virtual work force of over 90 researchers in India and 30 writers and editors in the US.
This experience taught us how to manage a large workforce, train writers to improve content quality and motivate a large group of people. These skill sets will be critical in allowing Shoutmouth to grow the content of the site, as developed by both staff and members, while maintaining quality standards.
IV. Marketing Plan
Shoutmouth’s marketing plan includes the following:
Online Advertising : Shoutmouth will initiate pay-per-click advertising campaigns on Google and Yahoo! in order to inexpensively drive traffic to the site. Specifically, Shoutmouth believes it can drive qualified traffic to the site for 20 cents per visitor and achieve a 20% member conversion rate, thus generating members at a cost of $1.00 per member.
Keys to Shoutmouth’s success in achieving this metric include:
- Conducting thorough keyword research and advertising on appropriate keywords and keyword groups
- Creating advertising text that maximizes click through rates
- Creating landing pages that maximize conversions while maintaining the highest Google AdWords quality score possible
- Closely monitoring conversions to quickly stop and/or modify unprofitable campaigns
- Getting individuals to enter their email address to join the newsletter is much easier than getting them to join a site where they have to create a username, select a password, etc. As such, step one will be to get visitors to sign up for artist-specific newsletters.
- Once on the newsletter distribution list, members will constantly receive messages (embedded in their daily newsletter) regarding the benefits of participating more on Shoutmouth.
- Active Shoutmouth Membership: the constant reminders regarding Shoutmouth’s value proposition in the daily newsletters will influence members to participate more actively on the site (e.g., customize their profile, visit the site more often, etc.).
Invite-A-Friend : Shoutmouth is in the process of creating an aggressive invite-a-friend/member referral program. In doing so, we are following the lead of social movie community, Flixster, which grew to 5 million members within 10 months. It did this by encouraging members, during their initial registration process, to upload and send an invitation to multiple contacts in their email address books. The technology to develop this process is fairly complex and we expect to be completed with and to rollout this program in June 2007.
Direct Email Marketing : Shoutmouth will directly contact bloggers and prominent music fans we find online to tell them about Shoutmouth, encourage them to join, and encourage them to write about Shoutmouth on their blogs and online journals .
Creating/Distributing Buzzworthy/Viral Content : Shoutmouth plans to have several buzzworthy/viral articles (i.e., content that people would want to email to their friends since it is funny, interesting, etc.) on the site each day. With a single click, visitors will be able to send these articles to social bookmarking sites such as Digg.com or Fark.com, where these articles could receive widespread attention. In addition to our traditional news stories, Shoutmouth will also periodically create special reports/features in order to satisfy our members and visitors and to try to get widespread exposure.
An example of the power of such buzzworthy content, Shoutmouth has already succeeded in having two stories accepted by Fark and Digg, which have brought in over 50,000 unique visitors.
Super Fans/Street Team Development : Shoutmouth also plans to recruit “super fans.” Super fans are individuals who are passionate about a certain music artist/band and actively contribute articles and/or comments on Shoutmouth. We will recruit these fans, reward them with status (e.g., adding a gold Shoutmouth headphones image to their profile page) and encourage them to more aggressively promote the site by:
- Submitting more news to Shoutmouth
- Commenting on more articles on Shoutmouth
- Growing the Shoutmouth community around their favorite artist(s) by actively recruiting new members to join the site (such as actively posting Shoutmouth-related comments on their MySpace pages, on other music forums, etc.)
Public Relations : Upon financing, Shoutmouth will hire a public relations firm to help us get mentions in media sources ranging from magazines, newspapers, radio, television and blogs. To date, we have developed and issued press releases via Billboard Publicity Wire which have been syndicated throughout the web. An effective PR firm will enable Shoutmouth to quickly reach a wide audience.
Widgets : Shoutmouth will create artist-specific and genre-specific music news widgets. For example, our U2 widget (see example on right) would include all of the recent U2 articles published on Shoutmouth. The widget can easily be placed on MySpace pages, blogs, etc. Each story title in the widget links to the full article on Shoutmouth.
Shoutmouth has great expectations for our widget. To begin, no such widget currently exists as there is no one place to get comprehensive news for specific music artists. Secondly, each time someone places a Shoutmouth widget on their blog or social networking page, it will effectively market Shoutmouth to a wide audience at zero cost to us.
V. Technology/Site Development Plan
This section provides a brief roadmap of the initial and future functionality of Shoutmouth.
Initial Site Functionality
The initial Shoutmouth website will include the following features:
- Ability to submit and comment on news stories
- Ability to suggest new music artists to add to the site
- Ability to create user profiles
- Ability to receive customized news and email alerts
- Articles categorized by artist and core genre (e.g., Rock, Rap, Pop, etc.)
- Music artist sections which includes News, Bio and Fans
Future Site Functionality
Shoutmouth will use news and basic functionality as the platform though which we will build a thriving music community. After initial launch, the Shoutmouth technology team will work on incorporating additional features such as:
- Ability to message other members via the site (e.g., members will have an Inbox on the site)
- Event calendars: members will receive online calendars. With the click of a button, the member will be able to add tour dates of their favorite artists/bands to their calendar.
- Articles also categorized by sub-genre (e.g., Alternative Rock, West Coast Rap, etc.)
- Music artist sections to also include videos, audio files, photo galleries, reviews and event calendars to which members can upload files and vote on top content.
- Forums and member blogs
- Music compatibility testing (suggestions on song/artists members might like)
- Trivia quizzes
- Music playlists
VI. Financial Plan
During the first six months, Shoutmouth will not generate any revenues as it will not sell advertising space nor offer products for sale. This decision has been made to spur the growth of the Shoutmouth community. By initially positioning Shoutmouth more as a non-profit, for-the-people-by-the-people venture, members will be more prone to promote the site and invite their friends than if the site looks too commercial.
Starting in September 2007, Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies (such as the Snocap music widget) evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to be a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.
Funding To Date
To date, Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 in Shoutmouth, with which we have accomplished the following:
- Built the site’s core technology
- Hired and trained our core staff (we currently maintain an 11-person full-time team)
- Populated the website with content (over 10,000 articles and 1,200 artist bios)
- Generated brand awareness among music fans, including driving 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May 2007.
Funding Requirements/Use of Funds
Shoutmouth is currently seeking $3 million to provide funding for the next 24 months. At this point, the site will be profitable and can grow organically, or additional capital may be sought to more aggressively expand our member base.
The capital will be used as follows:
- Execution of Marketing plan : in order for Shoutmouth to grow its visitor and member base, we need to invest dollars in online advertising and public relations. With regards to online advertising, we are confident that we can enroll members at a cost of $1 per member, which is a fraction of the value of the members to an acquirer (minimum $25 per member), thus providing a significant return on our marketing investments.
- Execution of Technology plan : in order to build a thriving community, Shoutmouth needs to offer its visitors a “stickier” website and enhanced features. We currently maintain a vast “wish list” of features, such as members uploading and rating pictures and videos, trivia quizzes, and member-to-member messaging, that will significantly improve the site’s functionality and value proposition.
- Staffing : In order to reach our goals, we will have to hire additional technical and operations personnel.
Below is an overview of Shoutmouth’s Financial Projections for the next three years. Please see the Appendix for the full financial projections and key assumptions.
Exit Strategy / Valuation Metric
Shoutmouth’s most likely exit strategy is to be acquired by a traditional music website or property (e.g., Viacom/MTV, Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone), an entertainment/media conglomerate (e.g., Yahoo!, IAC/InterActiveCorp, NBC), or a large social networking site (e.g., News Corp/MySpace).
This strategy is supported by the significant M&A activity in the social networking market, which includes the following transactions over the past 24 months:
Regarding valuation, below are the estimated valuations of social networking companies on a per member basis upon exit:
- Del.icio.us: $50 – $100 per member
- MySpace: $25 per member
- Xing (business social network): $137 per member at IPO in 10/06
- Flickr: $56 – $130 per member
- Grouper: $130 per member
Based on this data, not only are social networking sites a promising investment, but sites that can acquire members for less than $25 each (a conservative valuation estimate based on the figures above), should earn a solid return on investment. As discussed above, Shoutmouth’s goal is to acquire members for no more than $1 each.
In addition, per the membership projections above, Shoutmouth’s valuation at the end of 2009, at a $25 valuation per member, is expected to be $239 million. A more conservative, using a 24.4 time EBITDA multiple (the average multiple of tech M&A deals in 2006 according to The M&A Advisor), yields a $121 million valuation in 2009.
Shoutmouth’s founding team includes entrepreneurs and managers with a track record of success and a history of successfully working together.
DL, Co-Founder and CEO
D has a history of successfully launching and growing businesses of all sizes. As president and co-founder of an entrepreneurial services firm., D has personally assisted in the launch and development of over 100 ventures.
Over the past three years, D founded and has managed The Kisco Group which includes an affiliate marketing division (2006 revenues exceeded $3 million), a search engine optimization business which includes a network of 3,000 websites (2006 revenues exceeded $500,000) and an e-commerce business (which includes TopPayingKeywords.com and ShowerHeadsEtc.com).
D earned his Bachelors degree from the University of South Carolina.
PK, Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations
For the past two years, P has managed The Kisco Group’s search engine optimization business where he hired, trained and managed nearly 100 employees and a dozen outside firms. During this time, P has honed his management skills with regards to content development, marketing and operations.
P has had a passion for music since childhood and has been a semi-professional drummer for the past 15 years.
P earned his Bachelors of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Clemson University.
PF, Co-Founder and Vice President of Technology
For the past year, P has managed The Kisco Group’s affiliate marketing business. In addition to setting up and managing widespread marketing campaigns, P has developed sophisticated analytic techniques to precisely analyze web traffic in order to optimize profitability.
Since August 2006, P has shifted his efforts and leveraged his technology skills in developing the Shoutmouth website. P has been instrumental in selecting the Content Management Platform upon which Shoutmouth is built, and finding and managing the technology team.
P earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College.
AB, Marketing Manager
A’s background in music includes being a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer. He has also worked on the marketing side of music, having marketed Veritas Records through the development and distribution of promotional materials.
A’s career also includes psychological research and administration, having served as a Research Assistant with the Interpersonal Perception And Communication Laboratory in Cambridge, MA.
A earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Ohio State University.
M, Lead Technology Developer
M is an experienced web programmer with expertise in web design, application development and database development among others.
M’s work experience includes serving as a Senior Developer at Spheres. M has also engaged in multiple, long term freelance projects including serving as a Database Developer Consultant with The Penn Group and a Web Developer Consultant with Volution Media Group and Allied Online Consulting Group.
M earned his Bachelors degree in Computer Science with a minor in Cognitive Science from Rutgers University.
Content Development Team
Shoutmouth’s writing team, managed by PK, includes the following members:
- JS, Editorial Manager: former content manager and copywriter for Scholastic Inc. and Promotions.com.
- TZ: former music intern (Virgin Records and WRRV) and author of the blog, The Tom Z Show .
- ML: former assistant editor for Adventure Publishing; author of the blog Certified Gangsta ; and former editor-in-chief of Fordham University’s newspaper The Paper .
- SB: former staff writer for Paste Magazine , The Clarion Ledger , and Nightclub and Bar Magazine among others.
- CSJ: former editorial intern for Rolling Stone and Editorial Assistant for Psychology Today .
Outsourced Technology Team
Shoutmouth works very closely with 2skies, a technology firm based in Australia with staff in Australia and the United States. 2skies is run by JDN, one of the co-founding developers of XE, the platform upon which Shoutmouth is built.
XE is an extensible, Open Source web application framework written in PHP and licensed under the GNU General Public License. XE delivers the requisite infrastructure and tools to create custom web applications that include fully dynamic multi-platform Content Management Solutions (CMS).
VIII. Appendix: Shoutmouth Financial Projections 3-Year Income Statement
3-Year Balance Sheet
As of December 31
3-Year Cash Flow Statement
How to Write Your Business Plan Cover Page + Template
6 min. read
Updated November 20, 2023
The cover page is likely the last thing you’ll consider when writing a business plan .
While it’s not the most vital part of your business plan, a well-formatted cover page can be a nice touch when pitching to investors , banks , or business partners.
In this article, we’ll cover what to include and how to format your cover page so you can assemble an impressive page in just a few minutes.
- What is a business plan cover page?
The business plan cover page – or title page – is the introduction to your business plan document. It should be simple and straightforward—only providing logistical information about your business for stakeholders to reference.
Unlike your executive summary , a summarized version of your business plan, the cover page is strictly meant to provide contact information and set the tone for what they are about to read. The quality, formatting, and readability can all impact a stakeholder’s expectations for your plan and business.
- Why do you need a cover page for a business plan?
To be clear, the cover page is not a required section of your business plan.
It’s a largely decorative addition meant to grab the attention of a stakeholder. It should introduce you, your business, and the planning document and make it easy for the reader to find your contact information.
If you’re writing a business plan purely for internal purposes , you probably don’t need to spend time on a cover page.
But if you pitch to investors , apply for a loan , or approach a potential partner—a cover page can be a nice touch that makes you (and your business) look more professional.
- What to include in your business plan cover page
It’s best to keep your cover page simple. The page should only include:
- Company logo
- Business name
- Value proposition (optional)
- Business plan title
- Completion and/or update date
- Address and contact information
- Confidentiality statement
- How to create your business plan cover page
Creating a cover page shouldn’t take too long. Gather all the information listed above, and then fine-tune the formatting. Here’s how we recommend you organize the information:
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1. Start with your logo
Including your logo should help your business be more memorable. Just be sure it’s memorable for the right reasons.
That means adding a reasonably sized, high-resolution image at the top of your cover page. Just don’t make it so large that it takes attention away from other information on the page.
2. Add your business name
You want readers to connect your business name to your logo. So, add some space (2-3 lines) and drop your name front and center. Consider using a large and bold font option to ensure it’s easy to read and immediately noticeable.
3. Include your value proposition (optional)
While optional, including your value proposition can be useful if it effectively describes your business purpose.
4. Craft a title
Now you need to describe the document’s purpose. Don’t overthink it – start by adding “Business Plan” to the center of the page. Keep the bold font, but apply a slightly smaller font size than with your business name.
From there, you can apply a title that frames the type of business plan you’re creating: “ One-page ,” “ 5-year ,” “Merger,” “ Growth plan ,” etc.
Expanding the title is optional and should only be done if you believe it will benefit the reader.
5. Add the completion date
Including the completion date shows how fresh and up-to-date your plan is. Ideally, you’re revisiting your plan regularly (especially the financial projections in your plan). So the date should be relatively recent.
This information alone can show how focused and dedicated you are to running a successful business.
As far as formatting is concerned, keep it simple. Include the month, day, and year – either numerically (9/15/2023) or spelled out (September 15, 2023).
6. List your contact information
This is the true purpose of your cover page. The last thing you want is for an investor or lender to love your pitch only to have to scrounge around for your email or phone number.
Add a header that states “Contact Information” centered near the bottom of the page. Then, on separate lines, add your name (or other points of contact for your business), email address, phone number, business website, and physical address.
Tip: If you’re sending your plan digitally, add links to your email address and website so they can reach you quickly.
7. Include a confidentiality statement
The confidentiality statement is meant to help legally protect your information and ensure that no one shares or copies portions of your business plan.
You can include a simple “Confidential” watermark near the top of the page or write a more thorough statement to sit at the bottom.
Here’s an example:
“This document contains confidential and proprietary information created by [your business]. It is exclusively designed for informational purposes and should not be disclosed, shared, or copied without the consent of [your business].”
Don’t worry too much about emphasizing this information. It can sit as smaller text in the footer of your cover page.
- Tips to make your cover page memorable
Adding the information should be quick. Now, spend some time on these best practices to get your business plan title page ready to share.
Apply consistent formatting
Inconsistent formatting looks unprofessional and can make a document more difficult to read. So check that your character and line spacing, font choices, and text alignment are consistent to ensure they are identical.
You should also print out the document (as a Word Document and PDF) to check if the format changes.
Use your brand color scheme
Adding your brand colors to text, borders, and other design elements can strengthen the presence of your brand identity in your business plan. It also better connects non-visual elements to your logo.
Just don’t force adding color to your plan. If it takes away from the text or takes too much time to get right, it’s best to avoid it.
Check your cover page from top to bottom for spelling errors and mistakes (you should do this for your entire business plan). If possible, have someone else proofread it to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
- Business plan cover page examples
To help you visualize your cover page design, here is an example from our free business plan template :
We recommend you avoid creating an overly designed business plan. However, if you believe a more visual cover page will grab your reader’s attention—check out these other examples.
- Spend more time on the rest of your business plan
We’ve already emphasized that you shouldn’t spend too much time creating a business plan cover page. While it can be a nice addition, it’s often quickly skipped over and only referenced again if the reader needs your contact information.
And it’s unnecessary altogether if you’re not planning to share your plan with anyone. If that’s the case, focus your time and effort on writing the rest of your business plan.
Check out our full plan writing guide for step-by-step walkthroughs for every section.
You can also download a free business plan template (that includes a cover page) to ensure you cover everything about your business.
See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan
Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.
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National insurance to be cut from 12% to 10% - but tax burden to remain at record high
In his autumn statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also announced that those who failed to engage with the process of looking for work will have their payments stopped after six months.
Politics Reporter @NifS
Wednesday 22 November 2023 16:40, UK
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National insurance is to be cut by two percentage points, the chancellor has announced.
In a boost to employees' pay packets, Jeremy Hunt told the Commons that the main 12% national insurance rate would fall to 10% from 6 January - saving those on an average salary of £35,000 over £450 a year.
In his autumn statement, he also abolished NI payments for the self-employed, known as class two national insurance, to recognise the government "values their work".
Politics latest: Chancellor delivers autumn statement amid pressure in the polls
The tax cuts follow long-standing pressure from the Tory backbenches to reduce the burden on both the public and business, which has been sat at a 70-year high.
But it also comes as a general election looms, with the Conservatives still lagging behind Labour in the polls.
Delivering his autumn statement in the Commons, the chancellor said: "If we want people to get up early in the morning, if we want people to work nights, if we want an economy where people go the extra mile and work hard then we need to recognise that their hard work benefits all of us."
However, Sky News' economics editor Ed Conway said the overall tax burden on the public would still remain at a record high as the government continued its freeze on tax thresholds.
Read more: Key announcements from chancellor at a glance
Forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) showed taxes were still trending upwards, with a post-war high of 37.7% set to be reached by 2028/29 under the current government plans.
They put this down to so-called "fiscal drag", as while people's wages may increase, the level at which they start paying tax remains unchanged, and that leads to more people being moved into the higher tax rates - four million more, if the OBR's prediction is correct.
Labour's shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, said working people would still be "worse off" following Mr Hunt's announcements, adding: "From their failure to uprate income tax or national insurance bands, to forcing councils to raise council tax, the Conservatives have pushed the costs of their failure onto others.
"But the British people won't be taken for fools. They know that what has been announced today owes more to the cynicism of a party desperate to cling on to power than the real priorities of this high-tax, low-growth Conservative government.
"So I think we can forgive taxpayers for not celebrating when they see the truth behind today's announcements."
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, also called it a "Hunt hoax", adding: "The British people will rightly be furious at this deception, as they are forced to pay the price for Conservative chaos through years of unfair tax hikes."
Elsewhere in his speech, Mr Hunt confirmed Universal Credit would be increased by inflation next April in line with September's inflation figure of 6.7% - an average increase of £470 for 5.5 million households - despite rumours the government was planning a smaller rise.
And he said the full state pension would go up by 8.5% to £220 per week - worth up to £900 more a year, honouring the Tories' commitment to the triple lock.
But the chancellor also announced new tougher measures for job seekers, saying those who fail to find work after 18 months of "intensive support" will be given mandatory work placements.
Those who do not engage with the process for six months will lose their benefits altogether.
Mr Hunt also confirmed the much-trailed plans to reform the benefits process for those who are signed off work because of sickness or disability.
He called the over 100,000 people signed off each year a "waste of potential" that was "wrong economically and wrong morally".
As a result, the chancellor said the government would reform the Work Capability Assessment to "reflect greater flexibility and availability of home working after the pandemic".
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Mr Hunt said: "Our choice is not big government, high spending and high tax because we know that leads to less growth, not more.
"Instead we reduce debt, cut taxes and reward work. We deliver world-class education. We build domestic sustainable energy and we back British business".
He added: "Conservatives say we should unlock the potential we have right here at home, which we do with the biggest set of welfare reforms in a decade."
Other announcements in the autumn statement included:
• Freezing all alcohol duty until 1 August 2024
• Extend 75% business rates discount for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for another year
• Increasing the local housing allowance rate, giving 1.6 million households an average of £800 of support next year
• Consult on giving savers a legal right to have one pension pot for life that employers pay into
• Make the super deduction tax break for large businesses investing in the UK permanent
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The chancellor insisted the government's plan for the British economy was "working" as ministers had "taken difficult decisions to put our economy back on track".
He celebrated a reduction in government borrowing and the halving of inflation since last autumn's record high after Liz Truss's disastrous mini-budget, saying that gave him the room to make tax cuts.
However, inflation still sits at 4.6% - double the target of the Bank of England.
Labour's Ms Reeves said: "The chancellor claims the economy has 'turned a corner', yet the truth is that under the Conservatives growth has hit a dead end.
"What has been laid bare today is the full scale of the damage that this government has done to our economy over 13 years, and nothing that has been announced today will remotely compensate."
She added: "As the sun begins to set on this divided, out of touch, weak government, the only conclusion the British people will reach is this - after 13 years of the Conservatives, the economy simply isn't working.
"And, despite all the promises today, working people are still worse off."
The SNP's Drew Hendry also said the measures were "far too little, too late for the squeezed majority of households", calling the speech "a con trick from a Tory government that crashed the economy".
The OBR has upgraded its growth forecast for gross domestic product or GDP - a measure of the size of the economy - this year, but downgraded the figure for subsequent years.
The budget watchdog's forecast in March was for the economy to shrink by 0.2% in 2023, but that has now been revised up to 0.6%.
However, come 2024, growth is forecast to be 0.7% rather than the 1.8% expected at the time of the budget, 2025 is expected to see 1.4% rather than 2.5% and 2026 could be 1.9% instead of 2.1%.
Growth is then expected to go beyond the previous forecast, with 2% in 2027, slightly above the 1.9% predicted in March, with 1.7% in 2028.
"If we want those numbers to be higher, we need higher productivity," the chancellor said.
- Jeremy Hunt