A good business plan is the most important but often overlooked part of running, starting and expanding a successful business, and obtaining finance for a business. If a plan is written properly, running a business and obtaining finance is much easier, leaving less room for error and failure. While you cannot predict everything that can happen in a company’s future, a good plan helps you avoid certain pitfalls and overcome obstacles, while anticipating and creating opportunities.
There are different plan formats for various circumstances. A comprehensive plan will help you run your business venture or project more successfully. There are also specialized plans for various purposes, such as a funding plan for a bank, investor or venture capital firm.
The business planning process is very important. It is a building block system that is continuous, systematic and comprehensive. It involves the entire company, produces effective decision making, and executes those decisions effectively in a strategic plan. A good plan also measures the relationship between expectations and performance. It evaluates your company’s progress or lack thereof.
It is said, writing an effective business plan is more art than science. It is good to have a proven process and format, but you can’t just fill in the blanks on a master planning program or document. It is a matter of asking yourself the right questions within the proven process and format that brings about a successfully written business plan.
The comprehensive plan that I develop has eight sections: the executive summary, company overview, management and operations, marketing strategy and plan, strategic and sales plan, financials and appendix. I amend the eight section plan for specialized plans, like the funding plan.
The organization of the business plan is quite important. The eight section business plan is in a specific order from which each section builds on the previous section. There is fluid thought and reasoning employed to achieve a business plan which reaches its specified purpose. Although I wrote that the executive summary is the first section, it should be written last. All the other sections should be written in the order they are listed. A plan contains a very precise and concise format and is organized into numbered sections and sub-sections, which contain specific information in short, paragraph form.
A business plan is a dynamic document, as it changes on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. By being able to access it on your company computer network and online, various key people within the company can use and update it easily and effectively. For a Business Plan to be successful, it must be intertwined into the fabric of your business, have a detailed implementation schedule and be carefully tracked.
A well written and implemented business plan can do a lot of things, including: running, expanding or starting a successful business; be readily changed, adapted and updated to suit market conditions; be a fantastic sales tool; obtain funding; react quickly to market changes; give you the ability to make realistic forecasts and projections; seize market opportunities; establish and sustain your competitive advantage; and more.
Always consider hiring an experienced business consultant and planner to help develop, write and most importantly, implement your business plan.