Business Plans are like maps for tourists – you need a plan for where you’re going to go, what you want to look at, where you’re going to stay and, if you deviate off track, you need to be able to identify where you’re at and then navigate to get back onto your original path.
Planning a business activity is very similar. You need to develop a strategy and be able to determine where you’re at so that remedial action can be taken, if required.
The Business Plan should incorporate commentary on the people involved in the business – directors or owners, leadership team, together with a summary of the strategies that have been developed, the tactics for the implementation of those strategies and the allocation of responsibilities for monitoring the supply of funding for the business.
A Business Plan is best prepared after input from all of the team. The key group is the leadership team, but it is very desirable to have input from the other team members so that they have some “ownership” of the final document that is prepared.
The Executive Summary is the overview précis of the key data included within the Business Plan.
The Vision Statement enables the leadership team and directors to clearly articulate where they want the company to be in 3 to 5 years’ time and it normally includes a commitment to a regular ongoing review process covering:
Business Plans normally contain a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis (SWOT) which enables all participants to have commented on the key factors that make the business great, but also to comment on aspects of the business that they would like to see improved. This is a very important part of the process, because it is allowing everyone to have their input so that these reservations can be analysed and strategies implemented to rectify any problems.
The leadership team members’ direct responsibilities should be summarised, together with details of any specific professional development activities to be undertaken by individual leadership team members in the foreseeable future. This shows that the leadership team has a commitment to ongoing professional development, which is very important for businesses that are keen to identify their future aspirations.
No business can operate without its team members and it’s very important that a high priority is given in the business planning process to ensuring that adequate consideration has been given to the development of the team and that training programs have been implemented to ensure that team members maintain and grow their skills.
Customers/Clients are obviously a very important component of a business and the business planning process would be expected to incorporate a critical review of the services provided to customers/clients, together with a commitment as to how the service could be improved in the future.
Research and development is a direct contribution to the growth of the intellectual property owned by the business and therefore, within the business planning environment, consideration should be given to identifying potential research and development activities which could add value to the business’ overall intellectual property.
Marketing is a very important component of the business’ culture and the Business Plan should reflect this in such areas as:
The business’ leaders should be very conscious of good relationships with key suppliers. The business planning process would normally include comment on key suppliers and identify strategies to be implemented, if supply issues are encountered in the future.
The planning process enables the leadership team, together with the directors, to conduct a detailed analysis on external factors that might affect the business. These external factors include:
On a quarterly basis, it’s prudent for the Business Plan to commit to a detailed review of competitors’ performance and market place position.
Risk management covers many potential problems that should be given consideration by the leadership team and an appropriate written risk response document should be prepared so that it is readily available in the event of a problem, so that the leadership team has a series of documents to guide them when making decisions in a crisis.
It is sound commercial strategies for every business to have a communication policy because communication is a very important component of the fabric of an organisation and everyone within the organisation should have an awareness that every team member has the opportunity of receiving communications whether it’s via a daily huddle, pre-start meeting, toolbox meeting or leadership team meeting.
The meeting cycle should include a monthly business review meeting to be attended by the leadership team members where every aspect of the business can be considered.
A sound Business Plan includes an acknowledgement that succession is an ongoing issue within a business and relates to all of the team members, not just the leadership team or the Board of Directors. Progressive companies have an ongoing brief to encourage team members to document their current work assignment and to be ready, at all times, to move to other assignments at the discretion of the business. This is effective succession planning being conducted at all levels of the business.
Given the uncertainties that are confronting Australian businesses at present because of COVID-19, border closures, lockdowns and the problems that these are presenting to business operations, it is very desirable that all businesses prepare a new Business Plan at this time so that the leadership team, directors/owners have had the opportunity of having a fresh look at the issues that might confront the organisation in the next 1 to 3 years so that strategies can be developed now.
Peter Towers, experienced accountant, company secretary, director and business consultant has had considerable experience in the development of Business Plans for a wide range of organisations. If you would like to have a discussion about the facilitation services that we can provide for the preparation of a Business Plan, please do not hesitate to contact us:
You are most welcome to visit the Towers Business Development website (www.towersbusiness.com.au) to get an overview of the services that can be supplied.
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