Business Planning

Many businesses do not have a business plan, but know they should have.  A business plan doesn’t necessarily have to be a really complex long document.  All businesses, however, should have a business plan.

When you go on holiday, you book the destination accommodation (the goal) and determine the best way to get your family there (the strategy).  You may need to make some adjustments to the journey to stop for snacks or avoid traffic jams (tactics).

A good business plan contains:

  • Vision statement – “In 2018 our business will be…”
  • Mission statement – “We manufacture high quality precision engineered gearboxes to meet customers’ requirements”
  • Values – “Our staff are our asset; Customer’s needs are our priority; honest, sensible advice;”
  • Goals – “to have three fully trained apprentices by 2016; to have found an export partner in Germany by 2015; to have increased domestic sales by 20%;”
  • Strategy
  • A description of products and/or services
  • A summary of existing markets and profile of current customers

The strategy could be a section explaining how each of the above helps deliver sales (that are profitable), and that if more was invested in marketing, how much further sales might be increased.

A section on risk is useful too.  Against each risk, capture mitigating actions, which are preventative measures, and containment actions, which are measures to take should be risk manifest itself, and help to limit the damage or impact.

Team plan

Each time the business plan is updated key elements of it should be communicated to your team, and possibly even some of your suppliers and strategic partners.  If you don’t communicate the plan, how can anyone help you achieve your goals!?

A team plan can be a cut-down version of the business plan, broken out into calendar quarters.  Each team member can then be assigned tasks to work on each month during each quarter.  Essentially you decompose the first year of the five year plan into calendar quarters, and then into monthly tasks per employee.  Suddenly, everyone is helping the business chip away at that large distant goal.

So in summary, produce or update a short business plan, communicate it, and nibble away at the tasks each month.