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chapter four of six. Main types of finance.

Creating your business plan

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If you’ve made the decision to start a bookkeeping business, it’s time to get things down on paper. Your business plan is vital to reality checking all those ideas you have and making them a reality.

What to do on day zero

If you already know what you want to be called, lock down the name and register the URL. Now take some time to see what’s working for other bookkeepers. Find the ones in your area and check out their websites – plus their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles – to see what makes them tick. How do they speak to the market? What services do they offer? How much do they charge? Use this research to help start the plan for your bookkeeping business.

But what if I already know the plan?

It’s great if you already know how you’re going to get started, but it’s still important to write everything down. For one thing, you’ll want to record all your golden ideas before they’re forgotten. Plus the writing process will help you interrogate those ideas.

Putting them on a timeline, costing them out, and fitting them around each other might reveal a thing or two. Perhaps some assumptions will need to be rethought, or some ideas will have to be skipped in favour of others. It’s a great way to organise your thinking.

Start with a working one-pager

The key to a business plan is to start out simple, and build on it as you go. Begin with a few headings and bullet points that map out your vision, goals, milestones and predictions. 

Don’t let it get out of hand or bog you down. That’s not what a business plan is for. It’s supposed to help you get started. So set yourself a target of producing a one page plan to start.

Choose your words carefully

Decide how you’re going to talk about your business, and which words you’ll use. It’ll be helpful in settling on a value proposition and relating to clients. You can use your chosen terms in your elevator pitch, on your website, in blurbs about your business – and in your business plan.

Sections for a one-page business plan

You may eventually draw up a longer business plan, or you may stick with a short one. It depends on your working style, and the level of risk you’re taking on. Your plan will probably be more detailed if you’re taking on a lot of debt.

Staying alive

Once you’ve got your plan nailed down, remember you really don’t. You should treat your plan as a living document and keep tweaking it as things evolve. That’s another reason why it’s good to have a short plan, which you’re much more likely to update as you go. Try to be agile and open to change.

The discipline of maintaining your business plan will help you:

  • Discover and solve problems
    Putting things in black and white will show up holes in your thinking.

  • Get feedback from others
    You can share your plan to get feedback from trusted advisors.

  • Go for more finance
    An up-to-date business plan (and budget) means you’re always ready to apply for loans.

  • Guide growth
    Regular focus on the big picture will help you make strategic decisions rather than instinctive ones.

Have a succession plan

You will also need a succession plan. What will happen when you step away from the business? Will you sell it? Who to? A family member, a staff member, or someone on the open market? 

A good succession plan will make sure the business can survive and thrive without you. That it will perform for its clients and its new owners. And it should give you the flexibility to step away from the business at short notice, if required or desired. 

Learn more in our guide to succession planning.

Chapter 6: Pricing and charging

It’s a tricky balance between profitability and affordability. Learn why setting the right price is important for you and your clients.

Read next chapter

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A guide to help you work through the big decisions around accreditation, services to offer, fees to charge, and how to find clients.

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