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Business Plan Guidance
This document provides the basic requirements for a Business Plan. Childcare settings
can get support to help them with writing Business Plans and you should contact your
Local Business Support Officer (See Annex E)

Basic Principles

Keep it as simple and concise as possible, ensuring, however, that you put all the information within
the document that the person reading the plan will need to make the judgement / decision that you
want them to make.

If you are using a business plan to support a funding request then do not forget to put details of
what you require and what it is for, either in the plan or in a covering letter.

Presentation is extremely important. Word process or type if possible, if writing use lined paper for
neatness and ensure your hand writing is legible. Ideally in black ink as this makes a photocopy of
the document easier to read.

   Avoid waffle. Ensure that the important information stands out and is not hidden amongst all
    the words.
   Use bullet points or short sentences/paragraphs wherever possible.
   Be objective and realistic.
   Treat the development of the plan as the most important part of setting up or changing your
   Ensure that you have fully researched all areas of your plan.
   Get someone you know to review the plan for you, to comment on clarity and ease of
    understanding of what you have written.
   Ensure that you retain ownership of the plan at all times, it is your plan for your business.

Executive Summary

This is the first and one of the most important sections of your business plan, as you are aiming to
give someone reading your business plan, a overview of your business, what you want to achieve,
how and by when. In order to get them interested enough to read the rest of the document you
need to really sell your ideas and highlight the attractions of your plan.

   However make it brief and concise, you can go into detail in later sections – the idea is to give
    readers a “flavour” of the rest of the document.
   Start with the name of the business, it should be easy to remember, may describe the type of
    business and should convey the image of that which you wish to be associated with the business.
   Next you will need a description of what the business will do, in a very general sense.
    For example “XXX has been set up to provide the highest quality childcare and education to young children”
   Then a brief description of how your business will achieve what it wants to do. Identify its
    distinguishing characteristics and how it will differ from any local competition.
    For example, you may want to give a summary of the type of day care you will offer, how many
    places you will offer, the
    age range you will cover, your location, the geographic area you will get your children from and a
    brief breakdown of charging structure.

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   Finally include what you have done so far, what “milestones” you still need to complete and an
    idea of when you hope to achieve these targets. Give an indication of the starting date of your

You may find it easier to write the executive summary after you have written the rest of the plan.

Objectives (Aims Or Goals) Of Organisation

Within this section you want the reader to understand what the business is trying to accomplish and
what steps are to be taken to get there. It is also vital that you understand exactly why you are going
into business to ensure that you are always heading in the direction that you want to.

   Start with the long-term objective of the business, that is, what you ultimately want the business
    to achieve (sometimes called a “Mission Statement”). This will be similar to the one you have
    put in your Executive Summary, but will probably be more detailed.
   You then need to show how you will break down this vision into how it is to be achieved, by
    splitting the long term objective into short term SMART goals (Remember you can only eat an
    elephant by breaking it down into bite sized chunks).
   The short-term goals should be for a period of no more than a year. The shorter the time scale
    the more you will be able to focus your efforts on to it.
   You should set enough goals to ensure that you can meet your objectives, but to ensure that
    you can keep track of them, there will probably be no more than half a dozen.
   For your own guidance you should then plan the actual steps you are going to take to reach
    these goals. You may decide to enter this information into your business plan, but only do so if
    it will add value to the plan. If you do decide to include this information put it at the end of the
    plan under „Appendices‟. This will give the reader additional information if they want it – but
    will not detract from the readability of the section overall.
   You must ensure that you regularly monitor and review your efforts against these goals. Do not
    be afraid to revise your plans or goals as appropriate to keep you on track with your long-term
    objective, which may also change over time as your business develops.

The Market

This section describes the market (industry) that your business will operate in, and looks at your
customers and your competitors.

It will contain the market research you have carried out to determine who will use you services, why
they will use your services and how much of your services they will require. Use this section for the
overview, putting any detailed statistics as an appendix.

   Who will use your services is about your target market. Explain who you are going to target, it
    may be a particular estate known to have a large number of families, and why.
   Do not only be subjective (that is just putting down your thoughts), you will also need to be
    objective, that is, have hard evidence and statistics.
   Try to get demographic data (information on the ages of people in your chosen area) from your
    local council, get other local data from your library or try the Internet.
   Why they will use your service is about how the service you are offering will attract customers.
    What needs are you meeting, are you in a convenient location, will you have good premises and
    equipment, do you have a good reputation in the area or is it that you can offer good
    qualifications and experience in childcare.

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       Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. For weaknesses show how you will overcome
        then. Highlight and expand on your strengths.
       To help you find out what it is that your customers require, carry out market research. Include a
        copy of the questionnaire in the appendix if appropriate. Send out questionnaires to the local
        population and/or to the local schools. Give a summary of their responses in this section, with
        details in the appendix.
       How much of your service your target market will want can also be obtained from a
        questionnaire. (ie 3 mornings a week out of 5 mornings sessions).

    Here you will also you will also need to note what investigations you have carried out looking at
    competition in the area. Find out what they are offering, what makes competitors successful or not,
    their strengths and weaknesses, how they promote themselves.

       Detail your findings and explain how this will impact on your business and then what you will
        do about it.
       Visit competitors.

    The Service

    This is your chance to sell your service. Build on your market research to show there is a need for
    your service. Highlight all your strengths.

     Give a description of exactly what you will provide where you will provide it and how you will
      provide it.
     Include information on the age range you can accommodate, how many sessions and at what
      times these sessions are. List your fees, including registration and session charges, and when these
      are payable.
     You may want to include a brief description of your facilities, who owns them and if applicable
      the type and length of any lease or details of hire contracts. List what you can / hope to provide.
      If you are actually after funding for capital build, then include proposed plans and pictures in the
     Depending on whom the business plan is for, you may want to want to include some detail on
      your curriculum and how it meets the early learning goals. Again these could be put in as an


    In this section you need to show how you are going to let the market know about your business.
    Include any promotional literature, including brochures in the appendix. Create an image, which is
    easy to associate with your business and which you will use to attract attention. Use staff uniforms
    to reinforce the image.

       Describe your proposed campaign including what features of your business you will use, what
        advertising media you will use (local newspapers, parish magazines, leaflets, posters, local radio or
       Try to think of ingenious, fresh and eye catching ways to remind people of your name at times
        when they may need you.
       Remember the power of word of mouth advertising. Satisfy your customers needs and have good
        relationships with them, build up a good reputation through the quality of your business and
        protect it by sorting out problem quickly. In an industry like childcare this could make or break
        your business.

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      List any public relations exercises, for example holding open days for parents, free or reduced
       rate sessions as tasters. Get a local dignitary or personality to attend the opening to attract the
       local press.


    Give brief details of the backgrounds, experiences and length of time in the industry of the people
    who will be running the business. If you employ a manager or supervisor include them in this
    section, along with any other key staff. Include information only relevant to your business, for
    example only put in qualifications and previous employment that directly relate to the business.

    Operational Details

    Within the plan there should only be the briefest of information on the various subjects listed below,
    with supporting documentation, as required, dependent on whom the plan is for, in the appendix.
    Some of the areas that may need to be in this section include:

      Timetable – time scales for any proposed action, including if a new setting, a start date, showing
       date, action required by that date, and the monitoring of completing the action.
      Staffing – structure, how many staff are required, availability of staff, what experience they have /
       you will require, what will be their areas of responsibility, job descriptions, contracts of
       employment, what training opportunities you can provide, rates of pay, holiday and sickness
      Legalities – what regulation needs to be complied with for example Health and Safety,
       Employment and Discrimination laws, what are the Ofsted registration requirements, how will
       you meet the National Standards, what systems do you have in place to meet Tax and VAT
       legislation, (although childcare, where classed as education is usually exempt from VAT
       registration) and Data Protection Act requirements
      Administration – what forms and systems will you have in place for recording information on
       children including admission procedures, registration documentation and regulations, and
       employees. Also systems and files required for finance issues. What method of book-keeping will
       you use – and who will do the PAYE
      Insurance – Employers Liability and transport insurance are compulsory by law (make sure if you
       or staff are using their personal vehicles on company business those vehicles are insured for
       „personal business use‟), but others to be considered are Public Liability, Product Liability,
       Buildings and contents insurance, Business interruption, loss of money, legal expenses.
      Professional Advisors – include names of accountants, solicitors bank managers or business
       advisors used.
      Constitutions and policies – club or business constitution documentation and copies of policies,
       including Health and Safety, Security, Equal Opportunities, Special Needs, Behaviour
       Management, Hygiene, Food, Families and others, could be attached in the appendix if required.
      Fund raising – what targets you have set yourselves, examples of how you want to achieve it and
       what it will be used for.
      Typical Daily routines – including details on meals and refreshments and hygiene issues.


    This section contains all the details about the finances of the business, and must show were all your
    anticipated income will come from and what expenditure you will have to make.

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Probably the most important document for your business is the cashflow forecast. This is simply a
record of when you think you will receive cash and when you will have to pay it out and should be
completed by anyone who runs a business.

There is a cashflow tool that you can access to help you in your financial planning. This would be
a good appendix to your plan. The tools can be found at http://www3.hants.gov.uk/childrens-

You may also be asked to supply an Income and Expenditure Account (or Profit and Loss


This section contains any additional information and examples that do not fit neatly into the main
plan – and interrupt the flow of the person reading it.

A full version of this guidance is available from your Preschool Development Worker/Senior
Development Worker/Childcare Development Worker or at the Early Education and Childcare

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