So you want to learn more about business planning?!
Great news! It’s a skill for life and very easy to get to grips with. I love a business plan. When you have one you’ll feel like you are really in control of your business – you’re the one in the driving seat. And you can have one at any stage of your business; whether you are just getting going, fully established or taking a new direction. Having a business plan makes it easy for you to make decisions about your business, it helps you plan your finances and helps to focus on the things that really matter to your business.
How to get started with business planning
The brilliant thing about business planning is that once you have one, it’s very easy to keep on planning as time passes and you work through your plan. But first you need to get stuck in. I’ve found one of two methods works for most people, choose your fave!
- Chip away – set aside 2 hours a week and chip away at the plan until it’s alive
- Hideaway – take yourself away somewhere lovely for a couple of days and just plough through that baby until it’s perfect (for you).
There are 6 main parts to a business plan
Every business plan will have six basic components. They might be called different fancy terms and littered with marketing jargon, but essentially there will always be these six items:
- A review of your current situation (AKA The situation)
- A description of what you want to achieve (AKA The objectives)
- A description of how you are going to get there (AKA The strategy)
- A plan of what projects you will undertake and when (AKA The tactics)
- A detailed plan of who is doing what, when, and how much it will cost (AKA The action)
- A regular update with how well you are getting on with the plan (AKA The control)
Five reasons you should have a business plan:
- If you want finance you will need a business planYour business plan shows investors and banks why they should invest in your business. They will only risk their time and money if they are confident that your business will be successful and profitable.
- A business plan helps you to prioritiseAs small business owners, there are a million and one activities that we could do to promote our business. We are now able to buy in to a multitude of different tools and projects to reach potential customers. Having a business plan will help you decide which is best for you and your business.
- You’ll get better results from your suppliersBeing clear on your business strategy makes briefing external suppliers very easy. If you chose to work with a graphic designer or outsource your digital marketing, you’ll be able to explicitly describe what you are trying to achieve and what your business is like. Providing a clear and comprehensive brief to external suppliers means you’ll get exactly what you want from them in return.
- Business planning makes you stop and think about your businessThe process of planning will force you to take time away from your day to day activities and learn about your industry, your market, your competitors and – most importantly – your clients. The more you know and understand your market and environment, the better prepared you are for spotting opportunities or risks and achieving future success.
- You’ll be more motivated when times are tough
A business plan is a living document that should be regularly revisited. By continuously reminding yourself of your ultimate goal and what you want to achieve, you’ll be more motivated to stick at it through the hard times (which will happen, because that’s life).