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Developing a Business Plan

Almost all successful businesses have a business plan.
Business plans don’t need to be very long or time consuming to produce, but once you have written one, it’s important to make sure that you use it to manage your business.

If you just put it in a drawer and forget about it then it won’t help you to become successful.  Business plans should be constantly reviewed to check whether you are achieving what you set out to.

A business plan is a broad document and will cover all aspects of your business;

  • Quality
  • Current demand for childcare
  • Future demand for childcare
  • Costs
  • Pricing plans
  • Marketing & sales
  • Staff management
  • Competition
  • Your services

There isn’t a fixed format for a business plan, but there are some key things that you ought to include to make sure that your thinking about all elements of the business.

Key elements of a business plan might include;

  • Overview of the business
    Including basic information about the organisation, contact details etc
  • Aims and objectives of the organisation
    It’s important to describe the services that you provide and any new services that you intend to develop including information about opening hours, the age range of children that you look after, the number of children you are registered for and information about your quality standards and expectations
  • Management and reporting structure
    This section should be about the type of organisation that you are (e.g. sole trader, private limited company, company limited by guarantee, voluntary management committee run group), who is involved in the management of the organisation, what their roles and skills are etc.  If you are considering changing your legal status, you should include information about that.  If you have a constitution or governing document and an organisational chart, you may want to include that.
  • Operational information about the business
    Including information about your premises, policies and procedures and processes for administration such as late payment etc
  • Market research & marketing
    This section will include information about your surrounding area and who your customers and competitors are.  You could also include any information about links to partner organisations such as schools.  Any market research that you have done should be summarised with the key analysis included in this section.  Your marketing and sales plans and ideas should also be included here.
  • Staff information
    Including details of staff employed, their hours, rates of pay, qualifications and specific roles and responsibilities.
  • Financial management
    You should include your annual budget and cash flow forecast here as well as explaining the underlying assumptions that have helped you to reach your figures, such as your likely occupancy levels and staff requirements.  You may also want to include information about your break-even point and pricing structure and policies here.
  • Quality
    Details of any quality awards held and information about your recent OfSTED inspections should be included here together with any plans for improvement and development.
  • Action plan
    You may want to include an overall action plan for business development, particularly if you decide that there are lots of changes that you want to make and / or things that you want to develop.  It might be useful to undertake a “SWOT” (link) analysis early on in your business planning process, as this could help you to identify particular areas for work.

Lots of templates are available that you can use to help you put your plan together, or you can write one yourself.  See the SWOT analysis page in the menu for more information.

Don’t forget that once you have written your plan, you need to use it to manage your business – see our page on management information (link) to help you with this.

Some tips when preparing a business plan are:

  • Concentrate on describing who you are going to sell your services to, and how you know that people will buy the service
  • Find someone who writes or reviews business plans to look over what you have written and give you feedback
  • Include notes on the assumptions behind forecasts of income and expenditure