Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Does Your Business Have a Plan???

Now this has nothing to do with the 'R' word - as this has finally been banned in our household considering the situation with Corus & my partner's job. However it does have an implication on your business and one way of avoiding a crisis is to provide your business with a sound and secure plan for the future.
We all undertake some form of planning every day in our personal and business lives; getting the children to school, taking the dog for a walk, getting married, going to the shops, going on holiday, having a meeting or starting up a business - each time we put steps in place to achieve one or more things we are 'planning'.
For some firms planning will come as a natural process within their business, for some planning for the present let alone the future will not be considered and can put the business under uneccessary stress and pressure.
When you started in business did you have a plan? How does this plan look now? Could you look back at your plan and say it was realistic? Have you achieved what you wanted up til this point? Everyday I talk to clients from a wide variety of backgrounds and situations, from pre-start to established and everyday at least 4 out of 10 will tell me 'I did not have a plan when I started', 'I don't even need a plan', 'What good will looking at the past do for me?', 'Why should I change my plan?'
Hard to believe that these answers would stem from within the business world, but they do. It is not tragic, nor is it vitally important that they recognise having a business plan can strengthen the focus of their business, give them goals to work towards, inject motivation and enthusiasm into the day-to-day running of their business.
I write business plans for businesses at all stages in their working cycle and each plan is tailored according to the individual needs and aspirations of that business, not one plan is the same. This is the important part of developing a business plan - ensure that the individual or agency that develops your plan is working with you, not for you and that your goals and ideals for your business are fully understood before progressing any further. Most agencies/consultants will offer a free consultation and it is wise to use one that does because it will allow you to get to know them better and to fully understand how they work - after all developing a business plan is a personal, intricate document which provide guidance for staff, partners, investors and any stakeholders interested in the business.
For pre-start and start-up businesses Business Link (dependant on circumstances) can fully or part fund the development of your business plan - so why not take advantage of it!
Tips for your business plan;
- Be select in who you choose to develop your plan
- Consult any previous plans and consolidate what has worked, what has been achieved, what you would like to achieve in the future and how you would like to do this
Your Plan should include;
- Personal Details
- Summary of your business
- Products/Services
- Customers
- Marketing
- Competition
- Operations of the business
- Sales & Risk Analysis
- Cashflow forecast
- Plans for the future

Each agency or consultant will have different methods, styles and formats but the basics will remain the same. I hope that this has inspired you to pull out your business plan and evaluate where you business has been, where it is now and where it will be in the future.
If you would like any further info on Business Plans or would like a free consultation via phone, email or in-person (Tees Valley only).
Sara /

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