The purpose of a plan.
Financials allow you to look backwards in the rear-view mirror, but give you limited visibility of what lies in front.
KPI’s should help identify what’s going on now, but aren’t necessarily a predictor of the future.
Writing a business plan should give a full 360-degree view, not only of your own past, present and future performance but that of the competition and circumstances in which you operate.
If this is done well, the plan will enable you to go to funders with confidence and clarity, to inform your team, suppliers and customers what you’re seeking to achieve, to demonstrate how you are going to achieve your goals and to identify what the results will be having done so.
The drafting of a plan.
I’ve never been a fan of hefty documents or reports whose relevance declines exponentially with time. They inevitably end up on the shelf gathering dust because their interest is merely historical.
Instead, a business plan should be a working document, referred to regularly, updated frequently and reviewed systematically.
If you had a cloud-based planning tool that allowed you to re-visit it as often as you needed, to update your financial achievements, make comparisons with budget and to review the growth of the business against predictions, wouldn’t it be a huge benefit? Better still if it’s straightforward to create and easy to update.
What the plan should contain:
- Executive Summary; this enables a busy person to get to grips with the broad principles of the plan whilst having sufficient information in it to provide the necessary detail. It will include your core purpose (Mission), what you do, who owns the company, what distinguishes you from the competition and the essential financial numbers.
- The Business at a Glance; your history, your key people, what will ensure you success, your IP etc.
- SWOT; still a valid way of identifying where your strengths and opportunities lie, whilst being aware of what could be your undoing.
- Positional Analysis; the Industry you’re in, your Customers, Competitors etc.
- Marketing Plan; the classic process of identifying who is your target, where they are, what your offer is, how you’ll reach them etc.
- Sales Plan; what your revenues will be, how will you achieve it, what’s the balance of products or services, how you will enhance your sales conversion and transaction values, etc.
- Operational Plan; covers the key day to day processes which are integral to the success of the business. Will included key milestones along the route.
- Financial Plan; Revenue and profit projections, balance sheet forecast, cashflow and marginal cash analysis, financial ratios and financial outcomes and, depending on to whom the plan is to be given, the funding requirements and perhaps exit strategy.
- Strategy for Improvement; a review of the elements of the business in which improvements need and can be made, to have the greatest impact upon progress towards the goals.
- Action Plan; what you’re actually going to do, who is going to do it and by when, to fulfil the plan.
Who should write the plan and how.
Writing the business plan shouldn’t be an onerous or unduly time-consuming task if there is a structure and process to follow. Gathering the information may take some time, particularly in large and diversified businesses but the collation, inputting and construction can be made very straightforward.
Some will ask their accountant to write the plan, but this usually produces a great financial plan that is missing much of the operational, marketing and sales detail. Give it to a consultant to write and much time will be spent providing information followed by a prolonged writing period with significant costs attached.
In my view, the best people to write or oversee the writing of plan are those with a detailed knowledge of the inner workings of their business and the responsibility for its execution. Better still if the result can be generated in just two full days of effort, with the ability to update it regularly, so it remains alive and relevant.
If you’re curious to know how this can be achieved, do please get in touch, use the contact button below and we’ll arrange a call.CONTACT ME