Whether an entrepreneur avails of business plan consultants or a business plan software, for business to survive, it needs a written plan with clear defined goals.
Nowadays, given the increasing levels of competition and ever changing occurrences in the marketplace, as an entrepreneur or business owner, one can’t afford simply to work hard and make business a success.
Some entrepreneurs who agree that planning is important also protest the lack of time to plan in view of overburdening tasks. Another excuse given for not planning is that it limits options. Some business owners feel that a plan locks them into a set pattern of activities constricting their freedom to respond to opportunities. A good plan maps the best course of action to achieve predetermined objectives.
A business plan shows the purpose of the business and what it intends to accomplish. The more defined it is, the better equipped a business will be able to meet the opportunities and risks that lie ahead. Business plans must be used in the following instances:
- Starting up the business
- Making management decisions
- Developing new products
- Expanding the business
- Obtaining financing
- Maintaining and keeping control
- Allowing other significant milestones in the business
Business Plan Outline
Although every business plan may vary depending on the business, certain components or sections are common to all business plans. What’s important is that it should be organized to provide essential information in a concise and logical format.
- Title Page
- Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Business or Industry Description
- Product or Services Description
- Organization Data
- Financial Information
- Marketing Strategy
- Competitive Analysis
- Operations Plan
Successful Business Planning Guidelines
The following guidelines are provided to assist entrepreneurs in the planning process and to make them become more proficient in using business plans to their advantage.
Set aside time for planning.
Allocate time to do it. For your business to succeed, you must spend sufficient time on planning.
Determine the needs to be accomplished.
What exactly needs to be done? By identifying specific goal, attention can be focused on the key issues that have to be addressed.
Ensure availability and access to necessary data.
To plan effectively, information should be relevant, accurate and timely.
Coordinate planning efforts with that of others.
Make sure that people involved in the planning process are aware of what everyone else is doing. This is the only way to ensure that the various goals set for the business are consistent.
Review the business plan periodically.
This is to ensure that the business objectives are clearly aligned to the business goals or objectives.
Update the business plan.
Business experts normally recommend updating a business plan every six months. It is important to re-visit the business plan periodically to ensure it continuously meets the business needs.
Make the business plan accessible.
It must be ensured that the business plan is accessible to the employees who need it, for them to fully contribute their skills and expertise.
Use the business plan.
This is the most important of all. The business plan, as the blueprint for business to succeed, must be put to full use.
If unforeseen opportunities arise, the business plan can be changed to fit the circumstance.