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DETAILS OF BUSINESS
Australian business number (ABN):
Australian company number (ACN):
Tax file number (TFN):
Phone, fax and email:
How to use this business plan template
A business plan is a document that details how you will handle all the important aspects of your business. This business plan template is designed for both new and established businesses and covers the key areas of business planning:
• market research
• marketing planning
• legal and risk management planning
• operational planning
• human resources planning
• financial planning.
Save a version of this Word document to your own computer. Work through the template section by section. Each section contains a brief overview of the area you will research and write about, and a list of questions to answer.
There are links to a range of useful resources throughout the template. These resources provide more information about a topic and will help you give more detailed responses.
When you have finished answering all the questions you will be able to create an action plan that outlines the actual tasks you need to complete to achieve your goals.
Once your business is up and running, it is a good idea to regularly review and update your business plan.
Note: This template is offered as a guide only. Feel free to add, delete or reformat any text as required.
1.0 Executive summary 5
2.0 Product/service and market analysis 6
3.0 Marketing plan 11
4.0 Legal matters and risk management 15
5.0 Operating plan 21
6.0 Human resources plan 26
7.0 Financial plan 31
8.0 Action plan 34
9.0 Appendix 35
1.0 Executive summary
The executive summary is the first section of your plan, but it's best to write it last when you have a clear understanding of the direction of your business.
Your executive summary ‘sells’ the whole concept of your business. It should be convincing and excite the reader (who might be your bank manager or a potential investor). So it’s important to use strong, enthusiastic language that answers the following questions:
• What is your business vision?
• What is your legal structure?
• What products and services do you offer?
• Who are your customers?
• What sets you apart from your competitors?
• How will you create a market for your products and services?
• How will you operate?
• What are your financial projections?
• How will your business/industry evolve?
• Who owns/manages your business?
1.0 Product/service and market analysis
Market research will help you develop marketing and sales strategies based on what you find out about your customers, competitors and industry environment.
1.1 Products and services
You need a good understanding of your products/services in terms of key features and benefits to a potential customer, any limitations and the basis of the cost and sale price.
• Describe the key features of your products/services:
• Describe the benefits of your products/services:
• Describe any limitations of your products/services:
• What is the cost and sale price of your products/services?
• Are there any substitutes for your products/services?
1.2 Market analysis
Using a range of market research resources and different market research methods, gather important data about the market for your products/services and feasible levels of demand.
• Briefly describe your market (e.g. local/regional/national market, target customers, seasonal influences, price ranges, growing/declining market):
1.3 Industry description and outlook
If you have accurate information about your industry, and any current and upcoming market trends, you give your business the best chance to capitalise on opportunities that may arise.
• Describe the industry you are in (e.g. age, present structure, size in terms of $ and volume):
• Describe any major trends (both past and future) affecting your industry:
• What are the chief characteristics of the market (e.g. growth industry, competitive nature, government involvement, high production costs)?
1.4 SWOT analysis
Use a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
• Record the results of your SWOT analysis in the columns below. Also describe the strategy/strategies for addressing each item:
Strength Strategy Weakness Strategy
Opportunities Strategy Threat Strategy
1.5 Competitor analysis
Profiling your competitors gives you key information about their businesses (e.g. what they charge for their products, where they find their customers and how they advertise) and can also provide a benchmark for your own business.
• Create a list of business competitors and give them a rating:
Company name Size Sales mix (products/services) Years in business Reputation rating (1-10)
• In what areas does your business have a competitive advantage (price, location, product benefits, personnel, service, marketing, delivery, credit policy, etc.)? Can your advantage be sustained?
• In what areas does your business lack a competitive advantage? Can this be corrected?
• What is your unique selling proposition (i.e. what sets you apart from your competitors)?
• Key points for action plan (e.g. for developing a strategy to respond to competition):
2.0 Marketing plan
Your marketing plan is a blueprint for showcasing your products and services, and is a step-by-step guide to delivering your business's overall marketing strategy.
2.1 Customer profile
While your market research looks broadly at your customers, competitors and industry, customer research provides more in-depth information on the needs, wants, expectations and behaviours of your customers.
• What is the customer profile of your business (e.g. age, gender, location, income, education, buying patterns, customer motivation)?
2.2 Pricing (discounting)
Setting the right prices for your products/services is vital - if you charge too much you may price yourself out of the market. If you charge too little you may be underpaid for your work.
• What is the basis of your existing/future pricing (discounting) policy?
• Is it possible to increase prices by offering added value?
2.3 Customer service
If your business provides good customer service, you have a greater chance of keeping and increasing your customer base.
• What after sales service and warranties do you offer?
2.4 Advertising and promotion
The goal of advertising and promotion is to attract people’s attention to your products and services. The type of advertising you choose depends on your target audience.
• What is your unique selling proposition?
• What promotional activities will you use to reach your target?
• Do you need to develop a brand for your business?
• What are your signage requirements?
• Are there opportunities to promote your business at trade shows or exhibitions or by networking?
• Do you need an online marketing strategy?
Successful selling involves using the right distribution methods, keeping good records and developing relationships with customers.
• What method(s) will you use to sell your products and services (e.g. direct marketing, telephone, mail order, retail)?
2.6 Sales analysis and forecast
Using sales history and/or market research, you can forecast the number and value of sales you expect to make. You can then set sales targets and plan how to reach them.
• What are your current and proposed total sales ($), volume (units) and market share (%) for the next 2 years?
Segment Current year 2nd year 3rd year
(e.g. by area, product, store, customer type, distribution method) Total $ Vol. (units) Market share % Total $ Vol. (units) Market share % Total $ Vol. (units) Market share %
Total sales ($) $ $ $
• What is your sales plan for reaching these targets?
• How can you maintain/increase your market share over the next 2 years (i.e. what is your general marketing strategy)?
• Key points for action plan (i.e. marketing actions chart):
3.0 Legal matters and risk management
3.1 Business structure
A business can be legally structured in several ways. Choosing the best legal structure for your business is one of the first and most important decisions you need to make.
• Briefly describe the legal structure of your business:
3.2 Contracts, licences and agreements
You need to understand your legal rights and responsibilities as a business owner and know when to seek professional advice.
• What licences, contracts or agreements currently relate to your business? Note any action required for each:
Licence/contract/agreement Current status Action
Operational licences, permits or registrations
Business purchase or sale contract
Plant and equipment purchase or maintenance
Purchase or supply contracts
Agreements with customers and contractors
Cooperative agreements with other businesses
3.3 Intellectual property
Intellectual property (IP) can give your business its competitive advantage. Conducting an IP audit will help you find out what IP assets you have, and how you can protect them.
• Briefly describe your IP assets. What protection do they have?
IP asset Type of protection Expiry date Conditions of protection
Choosing the right insurance will help you manage and reduce potential risks. You should regularly review and update your insurance, especially as your business grows or changes.
• Describe your business insurance - including items and sums insured, premium paid and the frequency of the review of your insurance needs:
Before you sign a lease, you need to be confident that you understand and can meet all the terms and conditions.
• If your business operates from leased premises, are you familiar with all the terms and conditions in relation to:
Lease terms and conditions
Rent payment provisions (advance, review, formula)
Term options and expiry dates
Assignment or transfer of lease
Permitted use and restriction
Location/zoning/real property description
Relocation or demolition clause
Body corporate details
Responsibility for repairs and maintenance
Trading hour requirements
Government and town planning regulations
As an employer, it is important for you to understand employment-related legislation and your obligations towards your employees.
• Are you aware of your responsibilities in the following areas?
Tax (PAYG and payroll)
Termination of employment
Workplace health and safety
Human rights and equal opportunity
Holiday and long service leave
• Are you aware of your legal responsibilities regarding:
Liability and legal structure of business
Tax (GST, BAS statements, FBT)
Keeping statutory records and receipts
Customer credit policy
3.8 Risk management
Risk management is about preparing for internal and external scenarios that may directly affect your business:
• Use the table below as a starting point for your risk management plan:
(L = low, VL = very low, M = medium, H = high, VH = very high)
Risk description Likelihood Impact Priority Preventative action Contingency plans
3.9 Legal and ethical trading
Legal and ethical conduct protects your business from legal risks but also builds a strong reputation and earns long-term customer loyalty.
• Do you need to comply with any codes of practice?
• Which business activities are regulated under Australian Consumer Law?
• Do you and your staff understand your legal obligations to customers regarding guarantees, warranties and refunds?
• How will you comply with customer privacy laws?
• Key points for action plan (e.g. to raise with your business adviser):
4.0 Operating plan
Choosing where to locate your business is an important decision that requires research and planning.
• Briefly describe your location requirements (e.g. space, type of building, zoning, access, parking):
Understanding your production processes will help to standardise your operations and create efficiency. It may also generate ideas for future innovation.
• How and where are your products or services produced?
• What costs are involved in production?
• Have you documented standard procedures?
• What quality control measures do you use?
• Do you have any strategies for new product development?
4.3 Current performance
Benchmarking is a way of measuring your performance against similar-sized businesses in your industry. Rate these operational features relative to the industry average.
Operational feature Rating out of 10 Methods for improvement
(in next 6 months)
4.4 Customer management
• How will you keep customer records?
• Describe your customer credit policy (e.g. payment terms, invoicing, managing debtors)
4.5 Plant and equipment
Because of the potentially large costs involved, you may wish to be guided by advice from your accountant or business adviser.
• What plant and equipment do you need to operate your business?
• How do you plan to finance your plant and equipment (rental, lease or buy)?
• What are the ongoing operating costs and maintenance requirements?
Description of plant or equipment Item Number required Cost and how financed Ongoing costs - maintenance strategy
4.6 List of major suppliers
Using the Yellow Pages is a good way to find suppliers. Attending industry events and exhibitions is a good way to examine potential suppliers’ products and services.
• Who are your main suppliers and what terms do they offer?
Name Product/service Volume purchased Trading terms Alternate suppliers
4.7 Stock and inventory
You will need to keep track of the items you sell, use or manufacture. The stock control system you use will depend on the size of your business and the type of stock you use.
• What are your storage requirements (e.g. capacity, access, regulations, safety, product deterioration)?
• What inventory control system will you use?
4.8 Business continuity
Business continuity planning involves developing a practical plan to keep your business operating after an incident or crisis.
• Do you need to develop a business continuity plan?
• Key points for action plan (e.g. to raise with your business adviser):
5.0 Human resources plan
In this part of the business plan you will review staff functions, job descriptions, human resource policies, workforce planning and training.
5.1 Management and key personnel
Starting and running a business requires specific skills so it's essential to identify the skills you already have, and the ones you may need to improve or learn.
• What is your organisational structure?
• Describe the skills and experience of the owners and key personnel:
Position Skills and experience
• Have job descriptions (outline of duties) and job specifications (education, experience and personal qualities required) been prepared for key personnel?
• Do you have a performance assessment process in place?
• Include details of employment conditions which may list awards or workplace agreements under which staff are employed.
• Include details of business advisers and other external contacts:
Name Contact details
Trade or industry association:
In your business, your employees will be your most valuable asset. In most cases they will also be your greatest cost, so it's important to hire the right people.
• Detail the total number of staff employed in the different categories, and wage expense.
Number of staff Wages $
Current year Next year 1 Next year 2 Current year Next year 1 Next year 2
Training helps you get the most out of your staff and increases their job satisfaction, which can help you retain staff and avoid the expense of recruitment.
• Current and required qualifications/skill levels of staff are rated 1-10 as follows:
Actual (1-10) Projected (1-10)
• The following external training programs will be attended over the next 12 months:
Training course details
• Structured on-the-job training will be conducted over the next 12 months:
Training course details
If you need to hire staff for a new business venture or to support growth in an existing business, you should spend time setting up recruitment processes.
• Do you have processes in place for recruitment and interviewing?
• Do you have a staff code of conduct?
• Do you have a staff induction program?
5.5 Succession planning
If you have spent many years developing and growing your business, selling it on the open market may not appeal to you as much as passing it on to someone you know and trust.
• Have you formally documented a succession plan?
• Key points for action plan (e.g. to raise with management and/or business adviser):
6.0 Financial plan
Although you can prepare you own financial statements or forecasts, it may help to work with your accountant or business adviser. You can also use the financial statements in our sample business plans as a guide.
6.1 Start-up or expansion costs
One of the most common causes of new business failures is not having enough start-up capital to meet expenses, especially in the first 6-12 months of starting.
• Use the start-up costs calculator to work out your required start-up capital.
6.2 Profit and loss forecast
A profit and loss forecast involves listing your planned expenses and calculating the sales targets needed to reach your profit goals.
• Download the financial statements spreadsheet to help prepare your profit and loss forecast.
6.3 Cash flow forecast
Cash flow forecasting is a management tool that helps you estimate whether you will have enough cash to pay your business expenses when they become due.
• Download the financial statements spreadsheet to help prepare your cash flow forecast.
6.4 Balance sheet
A balance sheet shows your business’s assets (what you own), liabilities (what you owe) and owner’s equity (total assets minus total liabilities) at a given point in time.
• Download the financial statements spreadsheet to help prepare your balance sheet.
6.5 Financial ratios
For an existing business, you can assess your performance by completing the following financial ratios (based on profit and loss reports and balance sheets for the last 2 years).
Ratio Formula Definition Result
Gross profit margin (%) (Gross profit x 100) ÷ Sales The gross profit margin is gross profit expressed as a percentage of sales. A key indicator of your business’s overall financial health and production efficiency.
Net profit margin (%) (Net profit x 100) ÷ Sales The net profit margin is net profit expressed as a percentage of sales. Shows how effectively your business turns sales into profit.
Break-even point Fixed costs ÷ Gross profit margin The break-even point is the point at which total revenue equals total expenses. Shows the minimum sales required to cover costs (i.e. to ‘break even’).
Margin of safety Total sales – Break-even point Shows how much actual or forecasted sales exceed the break-even point. Shows how much ‘breathing room’ you have (i.e. how much sales can drop before you start making a loss).
Current ratio Current assets ÷ Current liabilities A measure of your business' liquidity (i.e. ability to repay short-term debts). A ratio below 1 shows liquidity problems.
Current trading level per month Annual sales ÷ 12 Used to determine average monthly sales. Useful for analysing and setting sales targets.
Budget sales level [Overheads + drawings + loan (principal)] ÷ Gross profit margin This ratio indicates the level of sales needed to achieve the desired profit on drawings and the repayment of the principal.
Debtor days (Trade debtors x 365) ÷ Credit sales per year This ratio approximates the average number of days debtors are outstanding.
Creditor days (Trade creditors x 365) ÷ Credit purchases per year This ratio approximates the average number of days creditors are outstanding.
Days stock (Closing stock x 365) ÷ Material used or stock purchases This ratio approximates the number of days stock is held without replenishment.
Stock turnover Cost of goods sold ÷ Average stock value This ratio is used to approximate the number of times in a year the stock turns over. Greater stock turn reduces working capital.
Gearing ratio (%) (Borrowed funds x 100) ÷ Total assets This ratio is used to ascertain the extent to which the total assets of the business are used for borrowed funds.
Debt to equity ratio Total liabilities ÷ Owner’s equity This ratio shows the relative proportion of owner’s equity and debt used to finance your business’s assets.
Asset turnover per annum Total sales ÷ Total assets This ratio is used to show the extent to which total assets are used to produce sales.
• Key points for action plan (e.g. to raise with your business adviser):
7.0 Action plan
You have now completed all the major parts of your business plan.
In order for your plan to become a reality, actions have to be coordinated and placed into a time frame. Add the action items you identified at the end of each section above to the following action plan schedule.
Regular contact should be maintained with your business advisers to review the outcomes of this action plan.
Action Date initiated Date for follow up Person responsible Deadlines Outcome Costs
This appendix will contain copies of relevant documents that will improve a reader’s appreciation of your business and its goals. The checklist on the following page indicates information you could include.
References from customers and suppliers 0
Copies of business agreement/business name registration 0
Awards, details of significant milestones 0
Product/service and market analysis
Patents, trademarks and copyrights 0
Photos of products, equipment and facilities 0
Marketing material including brochures, advertisements 0
Market research reports 0
Media releases, features, articles 0
Quality control and procedures manuals 0
Human resources plan
Resumes of key people, references 0
Organisation chart 0
Training certificates, degrees 0
Legal matters and risk management
Partnership agreements, company memorandum and articles of association 0
Employment contracts 0
Lease and loan documents 0
Service agreements 0
Profit and loss (previous year) 0
Balance sheet (previous year) 0
Ratio analysis 0
Annual profit budget 0
Annual cash flow forecast 0
Debtor and creditor analysis 0