How to write a business plan
Whilst writing a business plan for the first time sounds extremely daunting there are in fact a number of common sense concepts to focus on that will make it much easier to complete.
It is a very good habit to have an ongoing business plan in place. It ensures that you retain a focus to your work and can quickly make amendments if your current plan is not yielding what you want. A business plan will also tell you whether you are working for the right business and if you are not, what you need from a new employer.
In general terms it is vital that potential employers can quickly establish what your plans are, how you are going to be successful and what that success will look like. So the document needs to be concise, focused and full of detail. It is also imperative that any plan demonstrates that you have a thorough understanding of your market and the opportunities it provides. Feeding into this you will need to be clear on your finances. There is no point in having a great idea if the funding is not in place to achieve it or if cashflow will become an issue.
For financial planners a plan will therefore contain the following:
Provide a biography, detailing your experience, qualifications and what you can personally bring to any venture. Include your current areas of advice, activity levels and a detailed profile of your current client base (age, assets under management, strength of relationship etc.). Make sure that you include the level of fees/income you have been generating from this portfolio, what you are targeting to write in the future and how you will achieve this.
How do you plan on generating new clients? Include here how you will take advantage of any existing relationships and the work you have done / will do with professional connections. Networking plans should also be detailed.
Are there any restrictions on bringing client relationships with you? What are they? Provide details of timeframes, what level of fees/assets under management you are confident of generating from existing or new clients and when you expect to see the results of your prospecting. This may well include a cashflow forecast which is a useful way of showing any potential employer when they should expect to see rewards for their investment in you.
Break down your working week to show from a practical level how you will be a success. For example, to generate £10,000 fee income how many clients do you anticipate having to deal with? To get to that stage how many clients do you need to meet with? How many do you need to approach to secure a first meeting? If you are networking or dealing with professional connections an analysis of required activity will also be extremely useful. Ensure that there are enough hours in the working week to undertake this activity whilst still being able to carry out research, write reports and follow up with existing clients.
Include your targets for what fees/income you expect to generate in each of the first 12 months, followed by anticipated annual figures for year two and three.
What you need from an employer
This is an extremely important part of the process so it is vital that you are honest about what you can achieve and the support needed to make this happen. Do you need one to one administration and/or paraplanning support? Have you ever prospected professional connections before? Do you need guidance and marketing literature? Do you need product training? By being clear in this section you will swiftly make sure that any business can provide the resources you need. If they cannot then walk away from the opportunity or modify your plans. Also remember to be realistic about what firms can provide and the costs attached to providing the support you need that will ultimately eat into cashflow and profits.
For more thorough analysis then as mentioned cashflow forecasting and SWOT analysis can be utilised. SWOT analysis enables you to outline your strengths, your weaknesses (so that you know what you need from an employer), what opportunities the market is providing and what threats there are to your business (robo-advice, Brexit, regulatory costs etc.).
Before putting pen to paper it would also be wise to spend time reading some of the reams of information that is provided online, with https://www.gov.uk/write-business-plan a good starting point. It also helps to talk everything through. So please contact Exchange Street Financial Services on 0161 9736900 for more information.