I promised that my daily articles would be short, so whilst I am tackling the topic that is business planning today, I intend to keep it brief. I could sit and tell you what a business plan is, I could tell you what a business plan should include, but I am going to focus instead on why business planning isn’t just for start-ups.
I recently read a report produced by Palo Alto that indicated that those businesses where leaders completed a business plan were nearly twice as likely to be successful in growing their businesses or obtaining capital. Now, before people say to me: ‘He worked for a business planning software company, of course the data would show that,’ I was intrigued to read further that they had the data checked for validity by the University of Oregon who confirmed that: ‘…planning with software is highly correlated with subsequent success…’
For me, what is interesting about this statement is the reference to business planning software. Why is this interesting to me?
When many entrepreneurs are required to complete a business plan, they will often type in to a search engine and look for a free template. Templates may be useful if you are simply wanting to put some words and numbers down to satisfy a stakeholder such as a bank manager. However, the completion of a generic template is not the basis of strategic planning, and also cannot be changed and tweaked when you want to test to see what would happen to your assumptions if your circumstances changed.
Great business planning, on intutitive software, with the support of a coach or mentor will reap rewards for a business owner: a better understanding of the market will inform how you want to shape your business in the future, and will help to drive decisions on operations, finance, and people. Investing in a great business plan can help both save you from costly mistakes, but also help you to maximise profit opportunities in the future. It is no surprise therefore, that the research suggests good business planning can give your business a better chance of success than poor/no business planning at all.
What does your current business plan look like?
If you have answered this question with ‘I haven’t got one’, then that is a problem for you as you have no map to plot your journey on. You wouldn’t attempt to navigate the Peak District without a map; why would you attempt to navigate the world of business without a plan?
If you have answered this question with ‘I have one but it is out of date/unfit for purpose’, then you need to review it urgently. I would suggest to you that now is a good time before the new year (New Year, New Plan and all that!)
Don’t attempt to create a ‘free template’ business plan; it deserves more of your investment than that! Get a piece of software that can really help you create a powerful and profitable business plan, and get cracking with constructing the plan for your business to take you to 2018 and beyond.
If you need help with business planning, contact me today: firstname.lastname@example.org.