How to write a business plan

Making a business plan or a business plan: is it really necessary? Not for your registration at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. But it is smart to list the ideas for your business. That way, you can find out whether your plans are feasible. Read what the 4 parts of a business plan are and how it can help you start your business.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document in which you describe the plans for your business. In it, you put details about you as an entrepreneur. You describe what your business idea is and how you will make this idea a success. This also includes a financial plan, because you want to know how much starting up your business will cost and whether you will make money from it. 

Why make a business plan?

With a business plan, you find out whether the idea for your business is feasible. Can you really make money with it? At the same time, you can think of it as a kind of step-by-step guide: what do you need to do to turn your idea into a business?

You can think of the business plan as research. As you list everything, you will find out what are good ideas and what, on the contrary, will not work. Also ask for feedback from family or friends. They often see different things from you.

How do you make a business plan?

In a business plan, you summarise your plans on one to two A4 sheets. Include these 4 sections:

1. You and your company

You start your business plan structure by writing down information about you and your company. Use plain language and keep the information as short as possible.

Personal information

Write down basic information, such as your name, address, place of residence, family composition, driving licence, education, and previous employers. Basically, this part of your plan includes everything that you would put in your resume.

Personal characteristics

Write down why you want to become an entrepreneur. Describe your drive, the skills that make you a good entrepreneur, and your strengths and weaknesses. The KVK Test of Strengths (in Dutch) helps you visualise your entrepreneurial skills, such as financial matters, administration, marketing, networking, and your plans to develop.

Tip: if you start a business with a partner, you have to include the characteristics of each entrepreneur.

2. Your business

Your idea

Your idea is the foundation of your business adventure. You are now going to put the idea that is in your head on paper. Do this in just a few lines. You will notice that if you can describe your idea in a few lines, elaboration of your business plan will be easier. After all, it gives you focus.

Your company

Here you describe how you actually want to put your idea into practice. Describe very precisely what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, what you stand for, what your objectives are, and who your target group is. This helps you discover whether your business plans are feasible.

In this part, you include information such as:

  • Legal structure
    Describe which legal structure you choose and why.
  • Part-time business
    Are you still working as an employee or do you take care of your children or parents next to your part-time business? Then write down how you think you can spend enough time on your own company. Is there a non-competition clause included in your contract? If so, explain how you plan to deal with that.
  • Company name
    Which company name do you choose? Have you registered your company name yet?
  • Register with KVK
    When will you register your company with KVK? Or when did you do that?
  • Location
    Are you starting a business from home or from an office? Do you need specific environmental permits? Also, write down why you choose to rent or buy.
  • Insurance, permits and other obligations
    Which legal requirements and obligations do you have to meet? Do you need certain diplomas or permits?
  • Terms and Conditions
    Write down your terms and conditions. Or explain why you choose not to set them up.
  • Administration
    Are you going to keep your business records yourself? Or will you hire a bookkeeper or accountant?
  • Staff
    Are you hiring staff or not? And why?
  • Future prospects
    Where do you want your company to be in a few years? And what will you do to achieve this goal?

3. Your marketing plan

In this part of your business plan, you will discuss your target group and your target market. A marketing plan is a systematic approach to bringing your product or service to the attention of your (potential) customers. Make the objectives from your business plan concrete.

Conduct market research

Conducting market research is the first step in defining your marketing strategy. Are your customers as convinced of your product or service as you? Through market research, you find out whether there is a market for your product or service. You also map out your competition.

What do you put in your marketing plan?

In the article 'Using your marketing plan to acquire customers', you will read what should be in your marketing plan. Important parts are:

  • Research on your target group and customers
  • Your marketing goals
  • Your marketing mix: product, price, promotion and place

4. Your financial plan

Your financial plan is a tool for determining whether your business plan is financially viable. You also use it to submit your funding application to one or more lenders. The plan will help you convince them to invest money in your business.

Your financial plan consists of 4 parts. These are called sub-budgets:

You will often also make a private budget. This is how you find out if you earn enough to live on.

Download a business plan example

You know what parts of your business plan are indispensable. It is even easier if you can fill in an example business plan. Even if you do not know how to get started, an example business plan is useful. You can download such an example (in Dutch) from Qredits. Some freelancer/zzp organisations also offer business plan templates for free.