Debbie Dragon A formal business plan is an important document for any business. Entrepreneurs just starting out may find putting their thoughts, goals and in some cases dreams to paper an intimidating process. Nevertheless, it is vital to the success of your business. A business plan details every aspect of business operations.
Sometimes people use the term business plan when they are referring to a project.
Some projects are very substantial and equate to an autonomous independent business activity, in which case a business plan is entirely appropriate. Business planning terminology can be confusing because much of it is used very loosely, and can mean different things. Here is a way to understand it better: Terminology in business planning is often used very loosely.
When people talk and write about business planning different terms may mean the same thing, and a single term can mean different things. Consequently business plans tend first to look outwards, at a market, before they look inwards, at finance and production, etc.
This means that most business plans are driven by marketing, since marketing is the function which addresses market opportunity and need, and how to fulfil it. In fact, marketing refers to much wider issues than sales and selling. Marketing involves the strategic planning of a business or other organizational provider through to every aspect of customer engagement, including market reserach, product development, branding, advertising and promotion, methods of selling, customer service, and extending to the acquisition or development of new businesses.
Sales or selling is an activity within marketing, referring to the methods and processes of communicating and agreeing and completing the transaction sale with the customer.
Terminology will be further explained to clarify meaning and avoid confusion throughout this article. Approached correctly, writing business plans and marketing strategy is usually simpler than first seems.
Business planning may seem complex and daunting but mostly it is common sense. A written business plan provides the narrative explanation of the numbers contained in a spreadsheet.
When we see lots of numbers in a computer spreadsheet we can forget this, but the numbers are merely a reflection of scale and detail, and of computerised calculations and modelling, etc. In fact often when we are confronted with a complex planning spreadsheet containing thousands of numbers, what we are actually being offered is a ready-made planning tool.
In many cases, where business planning is a continuation of an ongoing situation, the most frightening spreadsheets can provide a very easy template for future plans, especially with a little help from a colleague in the acciounts department who understands how it all works.
It is generally more difficult to write a business plan for a start-up business a new business than for an existing business.
Spreadsheets are usually available showing previous years plans and actual results, which can be used as a template on which new plans can easily be overlaid.
Writing a new business plan for the continuation or development of such an existing situation obviously enables much of the planning to be based on existing figures, ratios, statistics, etc.
New business start-ups - especially if you are the owner or entrepreneur - present bigger planning challenges in some respects because we have no previous records to act as a guide, but in other respects they offer wonderful opportunities to create genuinely innovative and exciting founding principles - your own new business philosophy - on which your plans can be built and developed.
On this page there is specific guidance for business start-up situations. Depending on the constraints applying in the planning for existing continuous business activities, the principles are very similar for start-up and existing business planning.
Adapt it to suit your purposes. The numbers could be anything: If using these materials please adapt the spellings to suit your situation. The business entity could also be a proposed start-up, a new business development within an existing organization, a new joint-venture, or any new organizational or business project which aims to convert action into results.
The extent to which a business plan includes costs and overheads activities and resources eg. Business plans written at business unit or departmental level do not generally include financial data outside the department concerned.
Most business plans are in effect sales plans or marketing plans or departmental plans, which form the main bias of this guide. The extent to which financial and commercial numerical data is included depends on the needs of the business.
The extent to which this details the sales plan also depends on the needs of the business. Some organizations interpret this to be the same as a business plan or a marketing plan.
That said, the principles explained here can be applied to business plans of all sorts. Business plans are often called different names - especially by senior managers and directors delegating a planning exercise that they do not understand well enough to explain.
Typically these names reflect the department doing the planning, despite which, the planning process and content required in the document is broadly similar.
Write your aim large as a constant reminder to yourself, and to anyone else involved. Keeping your central aim visible will help you minimise the distractions and distortions which frequently arise during the planning process.
This provides a vital reference for decision-making and strategy from the start. A strong clear ethical code communicates your values to staff, customers, suppliers, and creates a simple consistent basis for operations which conventional financials, processes, systems and even people, do not address.
It is very difficult to introduce ethical principles later into an enterprise, especially when planning shifts into implementation, and more so if problems arise relating to integrity, honesty, corporate responsibility, trust, governance, etc.
It is easy to address issues of ethics and corporate responsibility when you are the owner of a new enterprise.If you need assistance or have questions about GRADS, please contact or [email protected] Planning a Novel in Ten Steps.
We all have a novel in us, or so they say. The problem is, for most people, writing a novel isn't that easy. So, how do you get the ideas from your head onto paper and into some kind of useable format?
Oct 23, · If you’ve reviewed what a business plan is, and why you need one to start and grow your business, then it’s time to dig into the process of actually writing a business plan.
In this step-by-step guide, I’ll take you through every stage of writing a business plan that will actually help you achieve your goals/5().
Feb 28, · The simple act of writing down your idea and outlining how the business will operate can be helpful to ensure that you communicate your vision and that everyone is on the same page. Writing a business plan is the best way to test whether or not an idea for starting a business is feasible, other than going out and doing it.
In this sense, the business plan is your safety net; writing a business plan can save you a great deal of time and money if working through the business plan reveals that your business idea is untenable. Learning how to write a business plan can make the difference between a successful start-up and a failed venture, but not all business owners and entrepreneurs recognise the importance of having one.