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Delivered by Co-operatives UK in partnership with The Co-operative Bank

4.2 Create your business plan

Are you ready to write your co-op's business plan? We provide advice on the best approach, links to a template plan, and a brief overview of each section you might need to include.

It's worth understanding that all business plans are different – like all businesses are different. 

You can use a template as a guide, but don't feel wedded to it. Make it work for your needs. 

Writing your business plan

Feasibility studies determine whether to go ahead with the business or with another idea. Business plans are designed after the decision to go ahead has already been made and provide a roadmap for this work.  

Make sure you have completed a feasibility study before you start on your business plan. 

How do I start?

  • Getting past a blank piece of paper is the most difficult and important part of the whole process.  It does not matter how poor your first draft is, just start writing! You can refine it later.
  • Get advice and keep asking questions. You do not have to take on every piece of advice. But if someone you know asks a question, it's worth thinking about how to answer it. They may think of something you haven't considered.
  • Every time you find something worth putting in the business plan, add it in.

How much detail?

  • Business plans should be meaningful documents and only include relevant information. Seventy page business plans may look impressive but nobody will actually read it, so it becomes no use at all.
  • For each part of the business plan, create a resource folder which contains all the information that backs up your plan. This might be market research, quotes, work flow diagrams, etc. You can refer to these when you need them, but they don't need to be in the main document.

Financial projections

Financial projections are a key part of your business plan. They help your reader understand how you have calculated the investment your business needs, how you're sourcing this finance and your projected income and expenditure. 

What do I need to include?

Projections for three years are usually sufficient for a start up business plan. You will need:

  • Financial projections - you can use these templates
  • Assumptions - what evidence do you have that your projections are accurate?
  • Scenarios and contingency plans - what will you do if things are worse (or better) then you expected?

What investment do you need?

As part of the business planning process you should have carried out a feasibility study. The investment requirement analysis that you did as part of your feasibility study will inform what investment is needed. 

If you haven't done this yet, you will need go back and do this before you can complete your financial projections. Go back to feasibility study.

Ready to write your business plan?

Financial projection templates

Download and complete this financial projections template, which acts as the second 'half' of your business plan.

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Financial projection template as word doc
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application/msword, 73.5 KB
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Financial projection template as pdf
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Financial projection template excel
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application/vnd.ms-excel, 180.5 KB
Business plan done? Let's choose your co‑op structure
Do you need help at this stage?
We recommend you have a go at writing a business plan. But if you do get stuck, you can get in touch with The Hive.