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Business planning

Your first step is to research and write a business plan.

A good business plan should keep everything as simple as possible. You will need a business plan if you are looking to secure any funding to support your start up. Even if you don’t require funding, a business plan is an essential working document to go back to and reflect upon once you have started trading.

You can find business plan templates on Gov.UK. 

You can also find lots of information from starting and running business including marketing, finance, sales and human resources on the Entrepreneur Handbook website

Your business plan can be used to:

  • set objectives and show how and when you will measure your performance against those objectives
  • consider the steps you need to take to develop your business and what barriers might get in the way
  • think about the potential risks and how you will manage those. Do you have a Plan B?

Free business support programmes

There are also several business support programmes that are free and can help you to develop a practical business plan.

The Business Assist Programme

For pre-start businesses, NBV have Free Starting in Business Programme which helps people who are looking to turn their business dreams into a viable reality.

This is a 3-day course and includes business planning, the skills needed to run a business, and the construction of a Business Plan.

If a business is looking for financial help, there are Grants of between £1000 and £2500 available (subject to eligibility).

Find out more about The Business Assist Programme on their website or contact Jo Hanson by: 

The Big House Programme

This is a free bespoke package of support for creative and digital businesses with the aim of providing tailored mentoring, workshops and grants to help with pre-start, start-ups or established or growth staged business.

This programme works with other business support organisations such as NBV and Nottingham Trent University.

Find out more about The Big House Programme on their website or contact them by:

Kick-Off business course

This is a free online course to help individuals that are interested in becoming self-employed. The course will explore useful topics such as:

  • the formalities of setting up
  • legal requirements and insurances
  • finance
  • money and grants
  • opportunities and risks
  • business planning
  • branding
  • creating an identity
  • finding a USP
  • building a proposition
  • and social media and marketing.

You can find out more about the Kick-Off Business Course on their website or contact them by email: 

New Enterprise Allowance Scheme

A Department of Work and Pensions job support programme for unemployed people looking to become self-employed. If you are unemployed then you can get help to start your own business, this includes being allocated an experienced business mentor who will help you set up your business and begin trading. You may also be eligible for additional weekly allowance for over 26-weeks and be supported with applying for any loans you may need to pay for any 'start up' costs.

Find out more on the New Enterprise Allowance guidance on Gov.UK or contact your local job centre.

Marketing and market research

In addition to a well though-out business plan, you will also need to conduct some market research to identify who your target customers are? and do they really want, what you have to sell?

This research needs to be carried out systematically, looking at potential clients and competitors. Correcting errors at the start, rather than later can be the difference between having a sustainable business or a failed business that will result in a loss of money and energy the better the research the better your business plan will be, helping you address issues such as staff skills, manufacturing methods, location, contents.

For smaller start-ups, information can be collected easily and there are many sources available on the internet. If you have a more elaborate business idea, it may be worth considering paying for specialist research, but care needs to be taken that this is right for you before handing over any money.

There are links in the related links section of this web page you might find useful to understand more about marketing and market research.