Business Planning

A Quick Guide

Although having a business plan is one of the indicators of a successful company, it is said that fewer than 25 per cent of small and medium-sized companies have one. This business advice article aims to redress the balance!

For many companies, pressure from outside is one of the main driving forces behind the completion of a business plan. And many companies, especially the smaller ones, don’t realise that they carry out, almost on a daily basis, the majority of the activities associated with business planning. The information they gather and the plans they make are simply not put together in what is traditionally called a “business plan”.

This guide is a brief introduction to business planning. Using it as a basis for your business plan will help you pull together your thoughts and plans into a coherent and logical format. The techniques, ideas and suggestions in this article will need adapting to suit your own particular circumstances – don’t be afraid to take on board such changes to suit your business. No two businesses are the same – just as no two people are the same.

What is a Business Plan?

The simple answer is that a business plan is whatever you need it to be.

The business plan you develop does not necessarily need to be typed and bound into one document.

In more complex business situations, where for instance detailed financial plans are created and a great deal of market research evidence is available, then it might be impractical to think of the business plan as one document.

In smaller business operations, owners and managers often retain part of their plan ‘in their heads’.

In either case, the important features are that plans are made, they are dynamic and relate to the individual business and that they are well communicated to everyone involved.

In most situations, it will be possible to create a document which sets out the basics of the plan but which does not include the fine detail of the many other plans which surround it.

Stand back…

As the head of the business, or a member of its management team, you will appreciate the need to ‘stand back’ once in a while and review business performance and the factors which are affecting the business.

To succeed against every-increasing and ever-changing performance, you will need to be clear about where the business should be heading. In other words, the business will need a clear vision and a set of objectives which will help it compete in its market places. The business will also need some way of measuring its performance. These are vital ingredients of any business plan.

Set the scene

Creating a dynamic business plan, one which suits your business situation and which you can use to your benefit, is best achieved from the ‘outside looking in’ and reviewing your business position. The plan, in whatever form it finally takes, should make clear the vision you and others in the business have and how you intend to achieve that final goal.

This exercise will, of course, involve effective communication between the managers of the business in developing goals but will also involve effective communication with everyone else involved to make sure they are all ‘pulling in the same direction’.

Teamwork is another vital ingredient for the success of your plan as is leadership from the management team.

Business Planning Guide © Crown Copyright 2011

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