Have You Got All Your Ducks in a Row?Putting down on paper what your business plan is, is a good idea for any business, no matter how long the business has been established, or how large it is.
A new business needs one to set out why it is starting up, where it intends to get to and how;
An established business that is looking to grow needs one to think about where it is going to concentrate its effort, with an eye on where it wants to end up;
A well-established, mature business still needs to think about where it wants to go and what the competition is doing, so that it carries on doing the “right” things.
You might need it for your own peace of mind, or you might need it in order to raise finance from lenders or investors.
Before you start to write your business plan you need to think about a few things, either on your own, or as part of a team.
Firstly, you have to think about the foundations.
What is it that the business does?
This is not necessarily a straightforward question. You may have to think around this.
For example, do we sell candles, or are we a provider of light? Do we sell safety guards or do we enable a safe working environment?
Thinking like this may open up new ideas and frontiers for you, (but I’ll return to this later).
Why does the business do what it does?
You could say that it is providing a solution to a problem that the market wants; or
You could say that it is because you are doing something that you really enjoy doing.
It could be both these statements.
If it is neither of these statements, then perhaps it is time to think about if the business is doing the right thing?
Another important part of the foundations and part of the “Why” is:
What is the culture of the business? What are its Core Values?
“Why” your business does what it does and the Core Values will be at the heart of making the business successful.
It will throw out important questions, such as do those Values align with what the business does, if not you may have to think again.
What about the people? Have you got the right people, in the right seats doing the right things at the right time? Do they know what the Core Values are, and do they buy into them?
If not, then how are you going to get them there. Recruiting, training, redeploying or letting go?
Once you have thought about what you do and why you do it, you need to think about where the business is focused.
As mentioned before, broadening your thoughts about what you could do is good, but then you need to focus on what you can do best.
Waitrose and Aldi operate in the “same” market but have a different focus.
Both concentrated on what they think they are good at, and have a different approach to what they sell, to who and how.
Both are successful and there is room for both in the market.
Once you have the foundations in place for your Business, you can start to think about what it is you want the business to achieve.
Where do you want it to be in 10 years’ time?
The answer to this will define how you approach building the business:
Are you building it to provide you and others with an ongoing income;
Are you building it to pass on to the next generation, or loyal staff;
Will you sell it so you can move on to the next project, or retire to a Caribbean Island?
What is your target market, where is your target market?
How are you going to sell your product or service?
Are you going to sell a complete product and then “walk away”, or are you going to sell the product as a service with ongoing commitment to/from the customer?
Where are you going to sell it both the market-place (direct sale, retail, over the internet) and which locations UK and/or Export.
How are you going to market it? Social Media, word of mouth, TV, radio, mail, billboard?
Who are the competition? How strong are they?
What is going to stop you? Resources, regulation, competition, patents?
When are you going to start the project, is the timing right for it?
Once you've done the research you need to, and got your thoughts straight, then you can start to write your Business Plan.
These are my thoughts on what you need to do before you commit anything to paper and then what should be in your plan, if you think I’ve missed anything along the way, let me know.
3rd February 2020