Using Excel to track your finances – 1

Using Excel to track your finances – 1

Using excel to track your finances – 1

The beauty of Microsoft eExcel is that you can tailor it precisely to what you want it to do and your level of skill. I have a file for each financial year for Busy Lives! and a separate one for the cost of living, which believe it or not I set up in 1994!

This is the first in a series of Excel finance blog posts. It explains how to use some of the simple controls to be able to create, use and track your own finances on excel.

The second post will explain how to insert simple formula, filter information and dropdown lists. Last but not least, the third post will be how to use and show data in charts and graphs.

 

Overview

 

  1. What sheets to create & why

  2. Having a professional look

  3. Shortcut keys & Freezing panes

  4. Formatting a column to present data the same way

  5. How Busy Lives! can help & support you with this

 

 

What sheets to create for your business finances

A good rule with excel is to only have a sheet if you really need it to inform your business. Here are the main sheets I have both used myself and created my clients:

  • Annual Expenditure
  • Car Related Expenditure
  • 12-month Cash Forecast
  • Expenditure / Expenditure (Client) / Expenditure (VAT)
  • Bank Statements
  • Income Invoices / Income Invoices (Client)
  • Client Analysis
  • Thank you

If you sell items I would also suggest / incorporate:

  • Profit Margins
  • Stock Levels
  • Client Ordering

 

 

Why

Annual Expenditure – I find this sheet useful to both track and predict how prices increase year on year, along with where my money is going.

12-month Cash Forecast – This has a formula built in which will automatically add your totals up each month showing at a glance what your currently income, expenditure and bank balance is. I find this sheet is really good where have one-off large expenditure occurring in different months such as business insurance and tax. (Blog Post 2 will show you how)

Expenditure (General)/ Expenditure (Client) – This sheet needs to be set up to reflect how your business runs. For example:

  1. Busy Lives! – the vast majority of what I buy is for just my business and I don’t earn enough to be VAT registered.
  2. The BlG Blue Hat Gardening Services – expenditure reflects a combination of tools bought for the business and materials such as plants, gravel and compost for customers. This sheet is set up so that you can see the overall expenditure, the actual business expenditure and what needs to be claimed from the customer.

Car Related – I like to keep this separate. Personal choice.

Bank Statements – It’s good to have a tracking overview to see the movement of monies in and out of your account as opposed to just the month you’re in when you view your statement.

Income Invoices / Income Invoices (Client) – Like the expenditure option above, set it up to reflect your type of business.

Client Analysis – My favourite sheet which really gives me an insight into the business. It has a variety formula in it which will populate graphs as you add to it each month.

Thank you – A useful quick reminder to ensure I follow through and say thank you to my existing clients.

 

 

Having a professional look

Adding the little things can make a world of difference to your spread sheet, here are my favourite top three:

  1. Colour each sheet tab and give each sheet a name – right click with the cursor over the word ‘Sheet1’ and you will see the option to Rename and Tab Colour. I often use the business brand colours!
  2. Have the same font and size on all your sheets – select the box between ‘1’ and ‘A’ then select the font and size you wish to use. I usually use Aerial, size 11 on excel.
  3. Make you headings and titles stand out by filling the cell with colour and making the font size slightly bigger – select the cells with your heading in and use the fill option which is directly under the size. Again, why not use your brand colours.

 

Shortcut keys & Freezing panes

Shortcut keys

The following keyboard shortcut keys can be used not just with excel but across all Microsoft Office Applications. These are the ones which I find really useful:

  • ‘Ctrl A’ – to select everything in the document press Ctrl A.
  • ‘Ctrl C’ – to copy – highlight what you want to copy then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl V’ – to paste – select the cell or area you want to paste the copied information in, then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl B’ – make wording / digits bold – highlight any text / digits you wish to make bold and then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl U’ – to underline – highlight any text you wish to underline and press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl I’ – for Italics – highlight any text you wish change to italics and press these two keys.

Freezing Panes

Freezing panes is another expression for locking multiple rows and columns. It’s really useful to have when you have lots of entries, as it enables you to still be able to see the headings.

From the heading ribbon at the top of the excel file select ‘View’ and you will see the options for you to select to freeze multiple panes, just the top row or just the first column.

To lock multiple columns, select the column to the right of the last column you want frozen, choose the View tab, and then click Freeze Panes.

Formatting a column to present data the same way

You can set up the columns in excel for different purposes. For instance, on my Expenditure sheet I need a column to show the date, a column to show the price including the price sign, and a column to give me the option of the different allowable expense areas. This is done through formatting the cells.

Select the column you wish to format. Right click either your mouse / scroll pad and you will see the option to ‘Format Cells’ click on this. You now have a set options to select from.

My top three common ones I always use are:

Date – select the option that suits you I always like the date, month and year as digits.

Accounting – so the pound sign always automatically shows and has the same number of digits after the decimal point.

Text – where you want to insert phone numbers and have the ‘0’ showing at the beginning.

 

How Busy Lives! can help & support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and unable to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position or are wanting to start their own business.

I am happy to help by:

  • Teaching you how to use excel for yourself at a pace and time to suit you.
  • Setting up a bespoke financial year excel template for reflecting your business needs.
  • Entering all your finance invoices, bills and receipts for you as and when you need support. (This can be on Excel, QuickBooks or Xero)
  • Analyse your data on a monthly basis and produce a summary of the key headlines in a report. This will help you recognise trends and areas within your business to help it grow in the future.
  • Setting up an easy system for your filing all your financial paperwork and receipts.

 

Find out more about my Small Business Support Services – Click Here

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on this website, LinkedIn or Messenger on Facebook

Or Email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

 

 

 

Preparing for Important Meetings

Preparing for Important Meetings

Spending time preparing for important meetings can really make a difference not only for yourself but the others who attend. An important meeting can potentially make or break your reputation or business. Whether it’s between you and your colleagues or you and a client / customer, every meeting needs to be professional and efficient.

Below are some tips and advice to help you prepare effectively to make sure every meeting goes extra smoothly.

 

Overview

  1. Purpose of the meeting
  2. Pre-reading and research
  3. Who needs to attend?
  4. How, when and where the will meeting taking place?
  5. Style of meeting
  6. Composing an agenda
  7. Initiations to the meeting
  8. How Busy Lives! can support you with this

 

Purpose of the meeting

Every meeting needs to have a purpose and goal; something you want to achieve by the end. You may find it helpful to write this down. Make sure your goal is specific, add a deadline and make sure it can be measured if relevant – this can be in terms of sales, product output, delegation, impact etc.

 

Top tip

Don’t have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting! You’d be surprised how many people make this mistake. ‘I always have a meeting on a Wednesday, so we’re having one!’ Colleagues will quickly become disengaged and switch off if there is no real purpose behind a meeting and using up their valuable time.

 

Pre- reading & research

Read all the associated paperwork for the meeting, making notes or highlighting against items you may wish to raise or comment upon.

It will very quickly come apparent who has or has not prepared for what is to be discussed. Don’t be that person.

If an agenda item being tabled or discussed isn’t something you don’t have first-hand experience of and will be required to decide upon, research additional information or look at evidence gathered towards it. This is invaluable if there is conflicting views in the meeting for you to be able to provide an insight. It will also help you in achieving the goal you want.

 

Who needs to attend?

When you set up a meeting everyone who attends should have a role to play or be relevant to what they do. Are the necessary? Decide if each person has a purpose, if you cannot find one, it is time to decide if they really need to attend. It may be better use of their time to either let them have access to the minutes or a short verbal summary of specific parts of the meeting afterwards which were relevant to them.

 

How, when and where is the meeting will take place?

Once you have decided on how many people are participating, you can decide when and where you are going to hold the meeting; that could mean deciding whether you are going to hold the meeting in person or online. If you are choosing to hold the meeting in person think about the best location for this. You may need to book a room or meeting space, this may dictate the time and place you can hold your meeting if not on your premises. Online meetings have more flexibility, but you should still ensure your participants have enough notice to ensure they are available at the appointed time.

 

3 Top tips

  • Make sure the room is the right size for the number of people attending.
  • Think what resources you may need access to such as a flip chart or projector if a presentation is going to be made for instance.
  • The layout of the room will influence and make a difference. It needs to be factored into suit the style of your meeting. Think carefully how chairs and tables are set out. For instance, formal, relaxed discussion, presentation, debate, a difficult conversation or recruitment all need different layouts.

 

Composing an agenda

Now you know when and where your meeting is taking place it’s time to make an agenda. You will already know what the meeting is about. Carefully composing an agenda is the time to carefully allocate your use of meeting time for maximum effectiveness. Having a well-planned agenda means your meeting will flow and stay on track which not only makes your meeting achieve its goal but will also display your professionalism and ability to deliver on-time.

An agenda should typically fit on one side of A4 paper.

Essential information to go on the agenda

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • People Attending
  • Chair
  • Minute taker / attendees taking their own notes
  • Bulleted agenda items – If different people are presenting different items off the agenda, have their initials next to the specific bulleted item
  • AOB (Any other business) – Think carefully if you want to allow this or not.

 

Other information you may wish to include after the agenda items at the bottom of the page:

  • List of papers and documents that will be used or referred to during the meeting.
  • Business priorities for the period.
  • Vision statement or business strapline.

 

The agenda should be sent out at least two weeks in advance of the meeting. This allows attendees with different schedules and commitments prepare at a time that suits them.

 

Invitations to the meeting

Now you have a list of participants and a meeting place set up you need to send out invites. Reinforce the purpose, date, place and timings in the body of the invite you send. Ensure to send any related paperwork, documents or previous minutes that will be referenced or used alongside the agenda.

After sending out your invites keep a note of who is and isn’t attending. If key people cannot attend it may be worth considering rescheduling to a time when everyone can attend. If only one or two people cannot attend decide if the meeting should go on ahead on that date – if you do decide to carry on make a note who cannot attend and send them any minutes paperwork they may need in order to remain informed.

 

Last Top Tip

Print off the agenda and all papers in advance of your meeting. If there are a number of papers being discussed from the agenda it’s worth spending the time ordering the papers to coincide in the same order as the agenda item. I then label each document in the top right-hand corner with the Agenda item number on. This helps you quickly reference the exact paper you need within the meeting and again demonstrates to others you’re professionally prepared and organised.

This can also be achieved electronically. Create a folder with the agenda all the documents for the meeting in. When you save each document into the folder save the file name commencing with the agenda item number followed by the title. This will help you quickly access what you need to open as the meeting progresses.

 

How Busy Lives! can support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position.

I am happy to help by:

 

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook

Or Email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

 

 

Organising your clients paper record base legally

Organising your clients paper record base legally

This blog posts demonstrates the processes involved when storing paper copies of confidential client information efficiently.

It is no surprise, when everyone is so exceptionally busy, how filing cabinet contents can get to the stage where you break a fingernail trying to fit an important piece of paper into a client’s folder! Before you know it there are then piles upon piles of paper taking over every available surface.

 

Here is my organisational system to help you avoid this.

Overview

  1. What is a client’s records base?
  2. What are the current GDPR and Financial Regulations?
  3. What does it mean for you, holding client based records?
  4. Why you don’t recycle old records and do need secure shredding
  5. Procedure on how to organise your clients record
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. How Busy Lives! can support with this

 

What is a client records base?

A client records base is made up of all your customers and is vital for any business. Increasing your client record base goes hand in hand with increasing the size / profits of your business.

 

 

What are the current GDPR and Financial Regulations for retaining information?

The 2018 General Data Protection Regulation has seven principles for retaining data which all business must follow, these are:

  • Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency
  • Purpose limitation
  • Data minimisation
  • Accuracy
  • Storage limitation
  • Integrity and confidentiality (security)
  • Accountability

 

Top Tip

If you need to know more or are unsure about your business and data protection there is good guidance on the Gov.uk website. Click here to take you to the page on this.

 

What does this mean for you holding client base records?

In short it means:

  • Any personal and sensitive information you hold on another individual must be stored securely and within locked furniture such as a filing cabinet or cupboard.
  • You cannot keep personal data for longer than you need it – if you are planning on keeping personal data ensure you have a good reason for keeping it.
  • If you share data with another company under lawful grounds you must ensure both companies understand what it to be done with the data once it is no longer needed – return to original company or both companies destroy it.
  • You must use appropriate security to stop the data you hold from being accidently / deliberately compromised. Along with this you must have a procedure to follow on any data breach and report it immediately to the ICO and any individuals affected by it if there is one.

 

Additionally, HMRC also details what financial / accounting records you must keep, these are:

  • All goods bought and sold and who bought / sold them (unless you run a retail business).
  • Money spent by the company.
  • Money received from sales.
  • Statements / any other financial documents which you use to complete your tax return.
  • Moneys received – grants / payments from support schemes.
  • Company assets.
  • Company stock / Stock takings.

 

All the above financial / accounting records must be kept for 6 years. However, some records may need to be kept longer, for example, machinery that is expected to last more than six years or if you conducted a transaction that lasted more than one tax year.

 

 

Why you don’t just recycle old records and need secure shredding

Sadly, you hear on the news how people have had their identities stolen, some of which has been through extracting papers from dustbins.

Shredding documents is the most secure way to destroy data. The type of shredder you use will dictate how secure it is. For example, a strip shredder is the least secure type of shredding as documents can be put back to together whereas cross-cut shredders are amongst the most secure.

To find out how you should shred documents you will need to look at your industry sector guidelines and corporate policies.

If you have large quantities of client records for shredding, you can outsource your data destruction. Always ensure, if you decide to do this, to get a certificate of destruction to prove you disposed of your data and paperwork securely.

 

Procedure on how to organise your clients record base.

When you decide to tackle the monster that is your filing cabinet of records there are steps you can take to make the task easier while ensuring you adhere to GDPR and Financial regulations.

Once you have made the commitment to start sorting your records you need some items to help make the task easier to not get in a mess or destroy the wrong papers! These include:

  • A large working space
  • Filing cabinets and dividers
  • Square cut folders
  • Archive boxes
  • Lined paper
  • A printout of all your clients sorted by your method of referencing – i.e. by surname / client reference number
  • Secure shredding collection bags

 

Step 1:

  • Break the task down into small steps – this could be working on one section / drawer at a time.

 

Step 2:

  • Now you are prepared to start, empty your first section / drawer onto a clear surface.
  • From there start at the top of the pile and work your way down.
  • For each record check off the client against your list – if the record is for a client who is no longer a client decide if the record needs to kept or not (make sure you adhere to GDPR). Extract this record and either archive or if you no longer need the client record put it in the secure shredding collection bag.
  • For clients who are still part of your data record base go through the record and remove anything older than six years and put it in the shredding collection bag – unless you have good cause to keep the information.

Step 3:

  • Now, with client records you are keeping go through them and remove anything older than three years. Put this information into a folder marked ‘Archive’ and write the client name and number in the top right corner of the file.
  • File into an archive box.
  • Make a note of the client name / number on a separate sheet of paper to use later

 

Top tip to save time in the future:

At the end of every financial year go through your records and staple or treasury tag together all the papers from the year. Label the top sheet with the year to make for easy location.

 

Step 4:

  • Once you have gone through an entire section / drawer put the files you are keeping away ensuring they are all labelled appropriately.
  • Between 1 – 3 years is recommended depending upon the information being retained.
  • If you retain different types of information on a client consider using a different colour square cut folder for each i.e. personal information = red / financial information = yellow / work related records = green.

Step 5:

  • Take the list of archived clients you made earlier, now stored in an archive box and type it up.
  • Give each archive box a clear heading and table the contents with the client reference number in the first column and full name or company in the second column.
  • Print three copies and laminate.
  • Attach one of the print outs to the front and one to the right had side of that. This will ensure the labels are visible if stacked by breadth or width.
  • Place the third copy inside the lid. This serves two purposes – if the labels come off there is still a record within the box, and it is also a quick reference for finding a specific client.

 

Top Tip:

You will most likely end up with two types of boxes for archiving – previous clients and current clients. To help with archiving you may find it easier to label previous client boxes with a letter and current client boxes with a number.

 

Step 6:    

  • Transfer your boxes to a secure location.
  • If storing securely on your own site I recommend using a shelving system (my personal recommendation is company called BIGDug). As when you stack boxes on top of each other you may find yourself struggling to access any of the files in the middle boxes.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to organise a paperwork in a filing cabinet office?

This depends on your filing cabinet and the office! It usually ranges from half a day to a day to go through a full filing cabinet depending on the amount that needs both sorting, archiving and organising.

I’m worried about you throwing away papers that may be important and need to be kept. How do I know this will not happen?

After fact finding about you and your business, any papers which I do not feel you need to hang onto I put into a ‘check’ box as I go along. This gives you the final say and opportunity to check before it is recycled.

Do I need to be there if I outsourced you to organise my office for me?

I need to have an initial meeting with you as part of my fact find about your business, yourself and how ideally you would like your office to look. After that, I am fine on my own.

How do I know I can trust you with my paperwork and data protection?

This is all set out in my Freelance contract and Terms & Conditions document which you receive in advance of any work taking place. I am also registered with the ICO and fully insured.

How do I book your services?

Either give me a call or complete the contact me details on my website and I will be in touch. Once we have discussed your needs I will book you in the first available slot I have.

 

 

How Busy Lives! can support with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and unable to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position.

 

If the procedure above sounds too much like hard work and effort or boring to you why not let me do it for you?

Equally, if you know anyone taking over a business where this may be what they are inheriting, please tell them about me. I can provide outsourced project support where systematic and methodical organisation is required.

 

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on this website, LinkedIn or Messenger on Facebook

Or Email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

 

What Are Business Support Services?

What Are Business Support Services?

What are business support services, how they can save you money, and free up your time?

‘What are business support services, how they can save you money, and free up your time?’ is a question I frequently get asked. Unlike some industries, I have worked and solved the pain points for varied and diverse clients. Busy Lives! services are bespoke to be precisely what you need help with not what ‘Joe Bloggs’ needs. This blog post explains and gives some concrete examples of my current trends in work, things I have been asked to do and how, as a result, generated more income for businesses.

 

Overview

  1. What are business support services?

  2. What are the most common types of services requested?

  3. How business support services can free up your time and you make more money?

  4. Is it worth it?

  5. Your to-do Lists!

  6. Key questions to ask yourself if business support is right for you and your business?

  7. How Busy Lives! can support you?

 

What are business support services?

Business Support Services are there to solve the pain points in your business.

This can be aspects of your work you haven’t got the capacity to do within your day or jobs that you really don’t enjoy doing such as invoicing and reconciliation.

Business support services are services provided by an outsider business which aim to help your business grow without you having to employ additional staff.

Business support services frequently complete those time-heavy tasks which don’t automatically generate you additional income but in the process of doing these for you free up addition time allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business which do.

The beauty of using Busy Lives! is that you can assign work which is from a few hours up to a day on a weekly or monthly basis. This can be at your business premises or remotely whichever works best for you.

Top Tip:

Just like many other businesses there are busy and quiet periods of the year. When possible book well in advance when you can to ensure your delegated work is completed well in time for when it is needed.

 

What are the most common types of services requested?

Business Support services such as Busy Lives! have two categories of clients, ad-hoc clients that need a specific task either once or a few times within a year and regular clients which range from weekly to a specified number of hours within a month.

Current top five business services Busy Lives! is used for with repeating clients:

  • Financial managerial support such as income invoicing, paying expenditure bills and reconciliation.
  • Database and analysis work most frequently on excel specific to finances, clients and services used.
  • Research, a vast spectrum depending upon the business industry.
  • Organisation and filing of paperwork.
  • GRDP data protection related work such as extracting papers for archiving and shredding.

Current top five business services Busy Lives! is used for as a one-off service:

  • Website review and comparison against key competitors.
  • Combining and creating a central client database from financial programs such as QuickBooks, Emailing contact lists and business cards.
  • Researching specific businesses and creating a database to market and reach more clients from public information available such as businesses within a specific postcode area.
  • Tidying up contacts within a CRM removing duplications and completing all missing fields.
  • Organisation of all household paperwork creating a quick and easy filing system for the future.

Business support services can span a wide range of need. My most popular services tend to be mathematical and systematic orientated work, but I can do other types of work.

 

How business support services can free up your time and you make more money?

Using a business support service can save you time and make you money in several ways. Their hourly rate may be a fraction of what yours is, so getting someone to do certain tasks really can generate more money with what you can be doing with your time instead.

If your business is expanding you may not be at the stage of employing an additional person with all the additional costs which will have to be met such as National Insurance Contribution, Tax and Pension. With outsourced support you pay a flat agreed rate.

Below are real-life examples of how Busy Lives! have assisted businesses.

Example 1:

Business X did not have a single database for their clients. Instead they had several data bases for different clients – this is not an effective way to store this type of information. The negative effect of this meant that when the business ran marketing campaigns, they missed clients which in turn lost them custom and money.

Busy Lives! resolved this by compiling a central client database. Having all client information in one place meant everyone was being targeted in their future marketing campaigns.

Example 2:

Business Y had a client database but did not have all the information for every client. Busy Lives! was bought in to conduct research and gather all the missing information. This allowed Business Y to conduct specified marketing, for example they could target all clients within a certain postcode area or clients who work in a specific trade. Targeted marketing resulted in a more successful campaign and more sales.

This client had been planning on doing this for over a year but didn’t have the time to dedicate to achieving this. With Busy Lives! doing this work, the client was able to spend more time maintaining and building professional business relationships which was key to their business.

Example 3:

Business Z wanted to conduct a postal campaign for businesses with a certain number of employees and within a specific radius.

Busy Lives! complied a list of businesses which fulfilled both requirements. This list allowed Business Z to conduct a postal campaign, target businesses, and obtaining new trade.

The above examples demonstrate how business support services can assist businesses and help you to maximise your profits. Many small businesses can benefit from using business support services as they allow you to focus on your products / services while someone else completes the ‘housekeeping’ tasks for you. Business support services are also beneficial if your business does not have dedicated people to complete housekeeping tasks or if you struggle to complete these tasks yourself as companies like Busy lives! have experience in all areas of business and so can complete any tasks you cannot do yourself or need assistance with.

 

Is it worth it?

Perhaps it depends on the person when considering outsourcing. One way of looking at this would be if you consider the overall cost per year, another way would be the amount of time you’d actually gain back from doing it!

Two quick examples from two of my regular clients:

3 – 4 hours a month – this equates to them having 6 additional days a year to do with as they wish for business or pleasure.

3 – 4 hours every week – this equates to them having an additional 24 days a year to do as they wish for business or pleasure.

 

To-Do Lists

We all have tasks that we enjoying doing and others that always go the bottom of that to-do list and get transferred to the next one! Rather than putting pressure and guilt on yourself with those tasks reflect if they could actually be outsourced. Just think about it – ‘X’ never being on that ‘to-do!’ list again.

Top Tip:

If you can’t get a referral about which business support service to use, have a look at a few websites and read the testimonials which have been written. These will often give you a greater insight into the calibre of person than just the ‘About Me’ page.

 

Key questions to ask yourself if business support is right for you and your business?

Ask yourself what are your pain points?

“What don’t I like doing?”

What takes up too much of time or can be is relentless?

What three things could you outsource that someone would be able to do quicker than you?

Why haven’t I given Karen a call yet? (07565722031)

 

How Busy Lives! can support you?

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and unable to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of bespoke business support for people in that position.

Busy Lives! relevant links to this blog post, click on the sentence below:

  1. Find out what other questions I frequently get asked about business support.
  2. Take a look at my case studies where I’ve solved other clients problems.
  3. Business support for the running of your business.

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on this website, LinkedIn or Messenger on Facebook

Or Email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Components For Writing A Business Plan When Starting In Business

Key Components For Writing A Business Plan When Starting In Business

Key Components for Writing a Business Plan When Starting in Business

The two activities which gave me the best preparation possible for the launch of Busy Lives! were attending a three-day course on starting your own business and writing a business plan. I knew exactly what my services were going to be, but I had not considered the entire big picture and everything else that was needed. Writing my business plan gave me not only an insight as to what was required but clarity and understanding of what my business would achieve within a competitive marketplace.

Writing a business plan enables you to have a robust strategy for moving forward. If you are in the process of starting your own business or at a stage in your business where you require a business plan, I hope the contents of this blog post give you a good starting point.

 

Overview

  • Why do you need a business plan?
  • When should you make a business plan?
  • Key components of a business plan
  • Final Top Tips
  • How Busy Lives! can support you with this

 

Why do you need a business plan?

Whatever your business, a business plan is essential. It will allow you to strategically break down all the necessary elements involved in running a business and allow you to see if your business will succeed. It is also a crucial document to have if you are applying for a grant or a loan.

An effective business plan will outline your business structure and future goals. This can also help secure potential lenders and business partners. Having a strong business plan can show potential lenders what to expect from your business and help them decide if your business is worth investing in.

As well as drawing in outsiders, your business plan is a tool you can use to create a blueprint of what your business is going to achieve. This is especially helpful when you are starting out.

 

When should you make a business plan?

It is advisable to create your business plan before leaving your current career.  A well-thought out business plan can help you make sure you are really ready.

Update your plan regularly, to ensure your business continues to grow and this is a ‘living document.’ – I update mine every 6 or 12 months.

 

Key components of a business plan

Below are key parts of a business plan. Not every business will require every section. Take the time to read through and decide if you need this. And remember, you can always add and remove sections as your business grows and changes.

Depending on your business, your business plan can take many forms, for example a small one-person business plan may focus on personal goals for development, target customers and finances.

Front Page

Use this to provide key snap shot information about your business.

Include your:

  • Your brand logo
  • Contact name
  • Business name
  • Address
  • Post code
  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Business idea
  • Start date
  • Business structure
  • Last updated

 

Table of contents

  • A table of contents is a useful guide for the reader. It shows the different parts of the business plan which can be quickly referenced by page number and demonstrates your thought process in compiling it logically.

 

Executive summary

  • This section should be at the start of your business and plan. The executive summary outlines what your business is going to accomplish.
  • This section can also include your business’ mission statement and what services / products your business is going to provide.
  • If you are applying for funding / finance this is the place to detail what you want. In general, you should keep this section to half a page but no more than a full page.
  • If your business is already established this section can detail what you have already achieved and how you are planning to move forward.

Top tips

  • You should consider at your executive summary as your ‘elevator pitch’. It needs to be short and to the point.
  • Write your executive summary after you have written the rest of your plan. Your executive summary should be a condensed form of your business plan so writing it last can make sure you have included all the important points.

 

Business description

  • This is where you write your business description. Include key information such as your business’ goals and what makes your business stand out from the crowd. (Once you are established, you can include your business’ history).
  • One of the most important things to include in your business description is your mission statement. A mission statement should be short and clearly display your unique selling point. For example: if your business focuses on environmental issues make sure your mission statement incorporates this.

Top tips

  • Your business goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Related Targets). Vague goals can negatively impact on your direction moving forward and profits.
  • When writing your business’ history do not record everything. Stick to major milestones and basic information.

 

Management and organisation

  • This section is for you to outline your business’ chain of command. This can be a diagram or a list detailing high-profile people / outsourced business and their skills / job responsibilities.
  • This is also the place to state whether your business is a limited company, sole-trader, or partnership.

Top tip

  • Detailing the skills and experience of important people in your business can entice investors. A business with lots of skilled and experience people is less of an investment risk.

 

Legal Matters

When setting up a business you must ensure you adhere to all legalities such as:

  • Making sure you have the required insurance, permits, licences or registrations.
  • You adhere to H&S guidelines and practices.
  • Your business complies with current GDPR regulations (data protection).

 

Breakdown of products and services

  • Detail your business’ products and services stating how these will meet an existing or future need in the marketplace.

Top tip

  • As well as pointing out the features of your products / services ensure you state how these features benefit your customers.

 

Market analysis

  • This is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge of your industry. Use statistics and dates to prove your points and state where your business will sit in this industry. This also be the place to detail the demographics of the customers you market to. Include your sale forecasts and market strategy.
  • Use your research to detail why your business is going to be profitable. For example: online searches for the product / service your business provides have increased by X % over the last X months.

Top tip

  • When deciding your target customers aim to be as specific as you can. Your marketing should be pitched as if you are talking directly to them.

 

Marketing plan

  • Your marketing plan should detail the steps you are going to take to promote your business. You can also include your planned budget for this. There are several things you should include in this section including:

 

Marketing Strategy

  • Detail what current strategies you have in place and where you intend to get most of your business from. For example: word of mouth referrals. From this you can detail how you are going to move forwards and increase your sales either by implementing new marketing plans or building on existing ones.

 

Market Analysis

  • A market analysis is where you conduct research into your business’ market. This includes discovering who your potential customers are and what their shopping habits are. How much your customers are willing to pay for something and how large your target market is.

 

Geographical Segmentation

  • This is a strategy where you either serve customers in a particular area only or where your customers will have different preferences based on their geographical location.
  • If geographical segmentation is applicable to your business then here is the place to document this and group your customers based on location; this can be done by region, city or neighbourhood.

 

Demographical and Behavioural Segmentation

  • Demographical segmentation is where you divide your customers based on their demographics. This can include age, gender, income, location, education and ethnicity.
  • For example, a budget gardening business may choose to focus on customers with lower incomes.
  • Behavioural segmentation requires you to know more about your customers habits including their spending habits and brand interactions.
  • For example a budget car business may decide to focus on customers who have purchased a second-hand car in the past five years.

 

Competitor Analysis

  • This is really key to not only know who your competitors are but ensure you pitch your pricing accurately. Here you need to compare your business to those that already exist. Map out your competitor’s strengths and weakness and how their business differs.
  • Reflect how you can benefit from their weaknesses to make a success of yours.

 

 

SWOT Analysis

  • This is a really important section to spend time on. Break down the different aspects of your business and you running it. Doing this will help you to identify where you need to professionally develop or outsource parts of your business to in the future.
  • Whenever you identify a weakness you need to find a solution.
  • Lastly, when you have mapped this out. Prioritise which identified weaknesses and threats need to be tackled in the short or long term.

Pricing

  • Use your competitor analysis with what they are charging on average as a starting point.
  • Pricing is an important element and will have a direct impact on your business. When pricing your products / services it is important to cover all your costs – this includes materials, labour, property, marketing, networking, distribution costs and a monthly salary.
  • Don’t forget to factor in Tax and National Insurance.

Top Tip

  • Check your pricing against the number of hours you intend to work each week across a whole year. Is it still financially viable? You may find you need to adjust what you charge in light of this.

 

Funding

  • If you are trying to get funding it is a good idea to include a funding section which plainly states how much money you are looking for and how you are going to use it. If you are going to need more money later, state that too.
  • If you do not have an exact number in mind provide a range. For example: £2,000.00 -£3,000.00
  • It a good idea to include a timeline showing investors what they can expect from your business.

Top tips

  • Make sure your funding request is realistic.
  • Demonstrate ‘Best Value’ where you can obtaining three quotes on equipment and resources.
  • Low investments with high returns are more desirable than high investments with low returns.

 

Finances

  • This is the place to plan out your business’ financial goals and your expectations based on your research. State your estimated revenue for the upcoming year.
  • This is also the place to make a budget. For new businesses you need to research your estimated costs and how you will budget for them. If you are unsure of a cost always budget more to make sure you are not left short.
  • It is also vital for you to consider and include your own living costs. As a business owner your monthly income is not guaranteed, especially when you are starting out. This is something you will need to factor in and budget for before starting your new business venture.
  • For a new business, you will need to do a personal balance sheet and a projection of your business’ balance sheet. When making these make sure you remain realistic and work both best-case and worst-case scenarios. Remember to consider your living expenses and ensure you have budgeted for this.

Top tip

  • Have two financial figures. A realistic one for what you need to earn as a minimum to meet your expenditure including your cost of living. The second one is your financial goal that you aim to achieve.
  • When writing your income and cash flow statements your first year should be broken down to monthly segments, your second year can be quarterly and thereafter it can be yearly.

 

Appendix of official documents

  • One final thing you may require is an appendix of related documents. This can include permits, certificates and legal documents as well as industry memberships and identification numbers.

 

Final top tips

  • Less is more. Keep your business plan to the point.
  • Make it easy to read. Investors receive countless business plans. If it is hard to read, they will not read it.
  • Make it professional. Ensure you proofread the document and lay it out in a clear and professional, consistently formatted manner.

Not every business will require everything detailed above. Use what you find useful and tailor you plan to suit your needs.

When you do revisit your plan, you will most likely find that you have achieved some goals and so sections of your plan are no longer relevant. This is a good thing and shows your business has progressed. It also means it is time for you to set new goals. However, you may also find you have not achieved some goals. If this is the case then sit down and find out why you have not reached this goal, adjust it if needed and plan is needed to be put in place for it to succeed.

 

How Busy Lives! can support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and unable to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position or are wanting to start their own business.

 

I am happy to help by:

  • Discussing the content with needed for writing a business plan for your business.
  • Working alongside you to help you write your business plan.
  • Listening to your ideas and content then typing your business plan for you.
  • Formatting your business plan so that it looks of a high professional standard.
  • Researching your competitors for the competitor analysis section of your business plan.
  • Sharing the business plan template that I use.

 

Find out more about my Business Support Services

 

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on this website, LinkedIn or Messenger on Facebook

Or Email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk