A vital part of that planning is around finance - how you're going to pay for the people, the stock and the infrastructure you need not just to keep going, but also to grow the business. You want to avoid running out of working capital - cash - because that's the lifeblood of commerce. It's cashflow that makes or breaks a business.
For many, finance planning isn't the most exciting part of running your own business. But it is perhaps the most important task, and certainly one of the most rewarding when you get it right. Investing time in finance planning can literally pay dividends in the form of better cashflow and improved profits.
If you're undertaking any major new project in your business, such as launching a new product range or expanding your geographical market, you expect to put together a business plan. This covers all aspects of the project, including the financial element - this is your finance plan.
Here are our suggested steps for putting together that business finance plan.
Step 1 Know what you need and whyMost planning starts with having the end in mind. You have a vision for where you are going - such as opening branches in new locations, increasing turnover by a specific amount or becoming a recognised brand in a new market.
In your business plan you'll set out the steps you need to reach that destination. You'll identify your current strengths and weaknesses, also the opportunities and the threats.
The business plan will detail the actions you need to take, along with their anticipated costs. These are likely to include:
- Purchase of stock or equipment
- Marketing costs
- Employment costs
Step 2 Understand your current numbersHaving planned for the future, you also need to have a strong grasp of where your business is today. Without a realistic understanding of current income and costs and the cashflow associated with these, it's hard to plan for the future.
However, you also need to be aware of other numbers in your business, such as the value and type of assets that you have and the existing levels of debt and their associated repayments.
Most businesses carry some form of debt, such as an overdraft, a loan or credit cards. Alternatively, there could be an obligation to repay an external investor, such as a business angel. While the expectation of repayment may still be some way in the future, it should be factored into your numbers and planning.
If you're looking for funding for a major new initiative that will grow or transform your business significantly, this presents an opportunity to restructure your firm's finances. You could consolidate existing small debts, or even do away with them entirely by taking on funding in a different form.
Step 3 Research your optionsWhen you're raising funds to grow your business there are a number of routes you can take. Your choice depends on factors that include:
- Your credit rating
- Your attitude to risk
- How much control you're willing to give away
It's possible that some of the assets your business owns can be used as collateral for finance, or used in another arrangement to release capital, such as a sale and lease back.
Where appropriate, involve others with a role in the management of the business, such as directors and other senior staff.
One major decision will be whether you decide to raise debt finance or equity finance. You can read more about this in our article 'Choosing the right funding option for your business'.
The more information you can gather at this point, the better informed your decision will be.
Step 4 Create your finance planAs you pull together all the information you can start to make a finance plan based on your preferred funding options.
At the heart of your plan will be a cashflow forecast, which sets out the incoming and outgoing cash movements over time. This can be built in a spreadsheet or in a dedicated finance modeling app. Building the plan in a spreadsheet or app should allow you to adjust it based on different scenarios, helping you to assess the impact of various changes.
You may want to create alternative plans, based on different approaches to raising the finance - such as taking out a loan over several years versus receiving investment from a business angel.
Step 5 Review your plan in detailShare your financial plan with others to get their feedback. Encourage them to question your assumptions and to suggest alternative options. The larger the project, the more important it is that you have a finance review by a professional, such as your accountant. An objective opinion from someone outside your business can be hugely valuable, particularly when they have experience of finance planning for similar projects.
Step 6 Source funding providersHaving thoroughly researched, built and tested your finance plan, it's time to approach potential funders. This could be a bank, a venture capitalist or a business angel, or some other provider of business funds. Your planning will have helped you identify at least one, and possibly several, funding options.
Depending on the scale and basis of the funding you're looking for, potential providers will have different questions and require specific information from you. This can include:
- Your firm's past financial performance
- How your business is managed
- Projected future cash flows
Funding your business project with QardusWe work with owners who are looking to grow their small or medium-sized business. Having already proven their product and their process in the market, they're now seeking funds for major growth initiatives.
The funding we provide is from £50k to £200k with terms of between 6 and 36 months.
We're different from banks and most other UK finance providers because we don't charge interest. Our funding arrangements are rooted in Islamic community principles and are certified as Sharia-compliant. This also means we don't work in business sectors considered damaging to society, such as alcohol, tobacco or gambling.
Because of our principles, our funding solution is proving a popular choice not only with Muslim business owners, but also with others committed to ethical and community values.
Talk to us about getting access to fast and flexible growth finance.