Writing Your First Business Plan
The best managed businesses see planning as a continuous activity in which they set both long-term and short-term objectives.
Having a good business plan should not be considered a straightjacket, but as a way of ensuring that everyday activities happen in a structured way. Well managed businesses will see a plan as a framework providing the ability to be flexible and responsive when opportunities arise, without being blown totally off course. Knowing that the bulk of your activities are performing according to plan will give you the freedom to explore those opportunities.
Regular monitoring of how a business is performing is also important to determine if goals and objectives are being met. Surveys of small and growing businesses suggest that those who plan are more likely to make a higher profit.
Ideally, you should write down the results of your planning process - though you may find that your plan is best summarised as a list of key objectives together with a budget. There may be occasions, however, when you have to explain the plan to a third party in order to demonstrate a proposed course of action for the business. This is particularly so if you are a startup and seeking financial support.
When a business is on top of its planning, it becomes a very straightforward process to summarise the different elements into a written plan. In the same way that a balance sheet gives a snapshot of the current financial position, a business plan should give an outline of the planning process.
“Planning is about preparing for the inevitable, pre-empting the undesirable and controlling the controllable.”
1. What business are you in?
What do you see as your business? Who are your key customers?
Now move on to the next section: Strategic Thinking