When you are contemplating starting a new business or 'working for yourself' there are a number of different areas that need to be considered.

A business plan should be produced, even if you are self funded and don't really feel you need one. Most businesses that fail have also failed to plan - the failure comes as a complete surprise!

The content of this programme has been used to help hundreds of people set up in business, over many years, and survive.

Business planning is not as difficult as it seems and there are many pre-printed formats available from Local Banks, Small Business Service and, in some areas, Enterprise Agencies or Local Authority Business Advisors (see list of Business Services)

The intention of this programme is to give you the underpinning knowledge and information that will allow you to:

Develop practical core business skills

Produce a sound business plan

Establish, manage and develop a successful business

So you really want to start your own business ...?

Before you set off let's consider the following ...

Hard work may mean little, or no, social life at first

Your income may be low, or very low, initially

You need the support of your family, understanding and teamwork may help reduce any strain

You may need to learn some basic skills in areas you may not be familiar with, for example - bookkeeping, sales, credit control, etc.

You may have demanding new masters, for example - customers, the bank manager, etc.

It may be a good idea to complete the following series of Business Evaluations to assess the viability of your business idea - to do this click here

Obviously the more correct answers you have given the higher the chances of your success and the better prepared you will be for self employment.

Why Start at all ...?

Because if ...

Your ideas are commercially sound

You have courage and determination

You are prepared to work hard on the basics

It may be the best move you ever made ...

In 1998 there were over 500,000 new business starts in the UK - over 60% of them still survive. The formula for a successful business often lies with the individual - given the same product or service and the same client base and set of circumstances, one person will fail, where another will thrive ...

...What makes the difference?

The successful business owner, once established ...

Is a self starter who can motivate him or herself

Enjoys taking responsibility for their own actions

Is organised, and committed to getting the job done, whatever it takes

Can sell, and accept set backs

Has the right attitude towards learning the necessary skills.

Is excited and has a vision, or a dream - no matter how big or small

Although you may feel you do not have all of these qualities, at the moment, this programme will help you in developing them and you never need be alone - on line help is available, however ...

... Much of the rest is up to you!


Before you start you need to look at 2 types of analysis for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This will help in determining the sort of support, knowledge and additional skills you may need to succeed.


List all of your personal strengths and weaknesses in terms of running a business. Look at the opportunities available to you for extending those skills and the threats that might slow you down, or divert your attention from the issues at hand. Be honest, the only person you can fool is yourself.


Do the same for your business idea, some of them may be the same. However you should consider your idea in relation to the market you are going in to. Is it crowded? Growing? Shrinking? - Try to be objective

to look at an example of a typical SWOT analysis click here

Setting Goals

All successful people had a goal or dream in order to get to where they were going

You can't imagine Richard Branson set up Virgin by mistake, or as a bit of good luck.

Learning how to set, and achieve, goals is a fundamental principle of success in any venture.

Do you know the "Pittenweem principle"?

It will increase your chances of success enormously if you learn it.

If you knew that there was a Million £'s, for you, in a box in a house at Pittenweem what would be the first thing you would want to know?

If the answer was 'Where is Pittenweem, well done - anything else and you may have some way to go



The first principle in developing success in anything is that it is more important to know where you are going than where you came from or are, at this time.

Most people spend more time planning for a holiday, or even a party, than planning a business.

By knowing exactly where you are going you can plan the best / fastest route there. Where you are, right now, is therefore irrelevant - you can be rich or poor, successful or unsuccessful and still achieve what you want - if you know where you are going!

What will your business look like in 1 years time, in 3 years time and in 5 years?

Learn to visualise success and you're part way there - success happens between the ears before it happens in fact


< Pittenweem

Getting down to the 'Nitty Gritty'

Most Business Plans follow a very similar format, they are asking about the Business itself, the Owners, etc. These are the most common headings.

you can go to each of these sections by clicking on the word. However, for people planning a business for the first time, we would recommend following the development programme as it is laid out

The Name of the Business

The Trading Status

Premises and Licenses

Marketing and Market Research

Costing and Pricing

Sales Forecasting

Cashflow Forecasting

Profit and Loss Forecast

Breakeven Point

Sales Activity Planning

Advertising and Promotion


Financial Requirements and Owners Input

Professional Support

A Common Error

There are many reasons why a business might not be successful such as:

Personal problems, or lack of support from family or friends

Lack of self-discipline and the qualities / skills to work for oneself

Lack of funding to set up or expand

However, by far the most common reason is a misinterpretation of the market place, customers, competitors and the need for our product or service

Although the business is entered into with some enthusiasm, before it starts it is doomed to failure!!

We can overcome many of these problems by developing a market led, rather than financial led, Business Plan - as follows:

Marketing Led Business Plan

Now let's go back to the Index and choose the first topic