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Business plans

A business plan sets out key objectives, priorities and strategies for your business and is required to raise finance for your enterprise. Find out more about business planning, the key features for a successful plan and how to continue the momentum once the business plan has been written.

What's on this page?

  • eBooks
  • Briefings
  • Checklists
  • Online articles
  • Articles and books from the Library
  • Useful links

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Featured article

Do all business plans provide a recipe for success?
Every business owner needs an 'informal' business plan to maintain business focus and manage day-to-day operations. A formal business plan becomes necessary when seeking funding or investment. Thayn Niemand explains how to write both types.

You will need to be logged in to the website to gain full access to the range of articles available online.

Featured briefing

Writing a business plan
The purpose of a business plan is to outline the strategy and actions needed to get the business to where it wants to be. This briefing outlines the key issues to consider when putting together a ‘typical’ business plan.


The Library provides full text access to a selection of key business and reference eBooks from leading publishers. eBooks are available to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users.

How to write a business plan: creating success
Finch, Brian (Kogan Page, 2013) 
This book is designed to lead you through writing your own business plan. Contains chapters: the structure of the plan; summary; the business background; the market; operations; management; the proposal; the forecast; financial information; risks; legal issues and confidentiality; selling your business; improve performance with a business plan; and using business plans for bidding.

How to prepare a business plan (The Sunday Times Business Enterprise Series) 
Blackwell, Edward (5th ed. Kogan Page, 2008)
"Starting a new business venture is like going into a tropical forest on a treasure hunt. There are rewards to be won, in both material wealth and in personal satisfaction, but there are dangers lurking and you can easily lose your way. This book is written not only to help you convince your financial backers that you will succeed and come back with a bag of gold, but also to help you write your own guidebook for the journey."

Making the business case: Proposals that succeed for projects that work 
Gambles, I. (Gower, 2009)
"This is a hands-on guide to producing an outstanding business case. It is written for anyone, novice or expert, who needs to get a business case done, whether for a defined project or a broader programme, and wants to do it right. Before you can get stuck into the task, you need to understand the idea of the business case, why it is so prevalent, and how it is being used."

Terms of use: You are permitted to access, download, copy, or print out content from eBooks for your own research or study only, subject to the terms of use set by our suppliers and any restrictions imposed by individual publishers. Please see individual supplier pages for full terms of use.


Directors' Briefings and Start-Up Briefings are four-page guides written for the busy practitioner, director and entrepreneur providing concise, practical advice on core business issues.

Writing a business plan


Many potential start-up businesses are daunted by the prospect of compiling a business plan. But it is not an intimidating process — and a good business plan focuses the mind as well as helping to secure finance and support.

Writing a business plan


Every management team should know where it is taking the business, and how it is going to get there.

Disclaimer: These publications from Atom Content Marketing are for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.


The How To Do It guides from Atom Content Marketing are a collection of checklists providing a step-by-step approach to key business issues. Access to these guides is available to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitles users.

Write your start up business plan

Premium Content: This is exclusive item - please log in or subscribe to view this item.


Many people who start up businesses feel daunted by the prospect of having to write their first business plan. They shouldn’t. Although compiling a well thought-out business plan does require time and effort, it is a simple process — the results of which provide many benefits.

Disclaimer: These publications from Atom Content Marketing are for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

Online articles

The ICAEW Library & Information Service provides access to a range of articles in full text from leading business, finance and management journals. This resource is available to ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users.

You will need to be logged-in to the website to gain full access to the range of articles available online.

How to write a great business plan

William Sahlman suggests that a great business plan is one that focuses on a series of questions.

How to write it: Business plans and reports

Advice on how to write business plans and reports that get results.

Do all business plans provide a recipe for success?

Thayn Niemand explains how to write both an 'informal' day-to-day business plan and a formal one to show potential investors.

Voices: What to do before you write a business plan

Think before you write and view the opportunities and risks of your business idea realistically.

The great business plan

How to keep on track with your business plan using the 80/20 Pareto Principle.

Emergency response and business continuity

Discusses the role of safety professionals in planning for an emergency response and business continuity.

Rethinking retirement and succession plans

Offers the author's insights on retirement and succession plans for business owners.

Transfer pricing rules in need of change

The authors discuss the need for reforms in the Argentine transfer pricing rules.

The rise of corporate peer-to-peer funding - from global finance meltdown to global finance revolution, in just three years

The CEO of P2P company Crossflow Payments gives his view of the opportunities P2P lending offers business borrowers.

Using the balanced scorecard as a strategic management system

This article, first published in 1996, describes how the balanced scorecard can help senior managers systematically link current actions with tomorrow’s goals.

When to take the money

The article looks at how to determine whether to sell one's startup business, with advice from company founder Sam Hogg, who sold his startup giftzip.com in 2009.

The new M & A: a playbook

Companies spend more than $2 trillion on acquisitions every year, yet the M & A failure rate is between 70% and 90%.

Tips for choosing the right global cloud infrastructure provider

The top considerations for businesses planning to adopt infrastructure as a service (IaaS) on the cloud.

Managing risk protecting your business

Provides practical advice on developing a business continuity plan.

The matchmakers

P2P lending is a market with growing appeal for institutional investors like hedge funds and insurance companies, who are looking to buy up loan offerings to add to their portfolio mix.

Effective global intellectual property due diligence

The article discusses the importance of intellectual property (IP) due diligence and how to do due diligence in a global context.

Articles and books in the Library collection

Selected books

The business plan workbook 
Barrow, C. (Kogan Page, 2012)
The Business Plan Workbook is the essential guide to all aspects of business planning for entrepreneurs, senior executives and students alike. Based on methodology developed at Cranfield School of Management and using successful real-life business plans, The Business Plan Workbook brings together the process and procedures required to produce that persuasive plan.

How to write a great business plan 
Sahlman, W.A. (Harvard Business School Publications, 2008)
Shows how to to avoid common mistakes. Includes sections: the people; the opportunity; the context; risk and reward; the deal and beyond; beware the albatross; business plans- for entrepreneurs only?; who are these people anyway?; the opportunity of a lifetime- or is it?; visualizing risk and reward; and a glossary of business plan terms.

Find more articles and books

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.
You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post, fax or email through our document supply service.

Useful links

Business planning
The British Library's Business and Intellectual Property (IP) Centre incorporates services and information on business planning, including a wide range of essential information to help you plan and grow your own business.

Business plans: A practical how-to guide 
An AccountingWEB article from September 2014. Robert Lovell runs through some basic pointers on putting a plan together.

Incorporation and names
Guidance from Companies House setting out the main requirements for incorporating a company in the United Kingdom. Includes guidance on choosing a name for your business.

Prepare a business plan
Practical advice on writing business plans provided by the UK Government website.

Business plan guidance 
Practical guidance published by the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies – Ireland (CCAB-I) and the Irish Banking Federation which is 'designed to facilitate the use of a common approach, framework and language in the preparation of business plans and raising of bank finance'.

Business planning guide: Practical application for SMEs 
Publication by the IFAC Professional Accountants in Business Committee aimed at owners of small and medium entities (SMEs). It offers practical guidance and discusses the concepts and techniques of writing business plans, provides a business plan checklist and gives an example of a business plan.

BT Business Insights 
Useful website providing information on a wide range of business services for starting, running and growing small businesses.

Free sample business plans
A large collection of free sample business plans from bplans.com for a wide variety of business sectors. Each plan outlines the following sections: executive summary, objectives, mission, keys to success, company summary, products, market analysis summary, strategy and implementation summary, management summary, and financial plan.

Business plan
See a working example of a business plan at bizhelp24.com - use this as a basis for setting up your own business plan. The page covers the eight main areas of a business plan and what each should cover. It also provides an example plan in its entirety to view.

Business Planning
The business planning section of startups.co.uk includes information on what a business plan is and what it should cover. The website provides news and information to get your small business starting.

Writing a business plan: The basics
This website from SmallBusiness.co.uk provides useful resources, products and services for small business owners and start-ups, including guidance on writing a business plan, business plan do's and don'ts and a checklist to ensure your plan includes everything it should do.

Centa Business Services 
Free registration with Centa provides access to their resource bank and a broad collection of factsheets, FAQs and web links to information on business planning and a wide range of other business topics.

Can't find what you are looking for?

If you're having trouble finding the information you need, ask the Library & Information Service. Contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620, by fax on +44 (0)20 7920 8621 or by email at library@icaew.com.

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