Claire McNeil


I have been working in creative industries for over twenty years primarily in finance, business development and training. As a business advisor I help creative entrepreneurs start their new ventures, specialising in business plan review, cash flow and financial testing and providing training to help them at the start of their new business. Specialising in creative business I currently mentor a number of successful entrepreneurs across music, photography and fashion. With over ten years as a Quality Manager, I have been helping businesses implement management systems, both accredited and non-accredited, to help them grow their business and improve the customer experience.


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This course is designed to help you write your first business plan, it is aimed at start-up and pre-trading entrepreneurs. Whether or not you have a basic idea yet to be tested, or have moved on from prototype stage you should start writing a business plan so that you have a clear map of the road ahead.

Why do you need a Business Plan?

Business plans are not just for startup companies looking to access finance, every business regardless of size or status should have a business plan, a road map if you will so that they know what direction the company is going in, and a way to measure whether or not you have achieved your goals.

Who is the Business Plan for and When do you write it?

Your business plan will evolve over time, initially your first business plan might be to assess the viability of your idea it might grow to become the document you use to raise finance to get your business off the ground. In a couple of years it might be to demonstrate how well you have done in order to secure further funding. Or it might just be an internal document so that you and your team have a plan for where the business is going and what steps you need to ale to get there.

Simply put, the contents of your business plan will vary over time and depending on who the business plan is for. For the purposes of this lecture, we are working on a business plan for a new business that may or may not need to raise startup capital.

You should keep in mind that your business plan is not an exercise you do once and then file away having ticked that task off your to do list, it is a living document it will always be evolving and will never be finished.

So you have a business idea, you’ve even imagined up your logo – but wait, you have never run a business before, where do you start, what type of business are you setting up, do you need funding, how do you price your product and find customers?

Business plans can be intimidating, time-consuming, and a bit boring, but they are a valuable always-evolving road map for your business.

Having worked with many entrepreneurs and start-ups I have prepared this step by step guide to creating a business plan with a simple structure that you can adapt as your business grows.

In summary - Why do you need a business plan?

  • Sets a clear path with manageable goals and objectives
  • It keeps you accountable – once you start writing your plans down you will want to achieve them.
  • It can avoid problems further down the road
  • It forces even the most disorganised entrepreneur to be organised
  • It helps you to keep your expectations realistic
  • It makes it real – if you have a plan even if it needs tweaked from time to time it is a start.
  • Because “you don’t know what you don’t know”

Over the course of the next six weeks we will be building up and adding to this business plan so that by the end you will have a business plan and cash flow and a clear direction of the steps you need to take top turn your idea into a reality.

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