As with anything in life the saying goes “fail to plan, plan to fail’. If you want to create a successful and profitable business then you need to create a business plan. If you want to grow your business you’ll need a Business Development Plan.
What exactly is a business plan? It’s basically the road map that defines your goals, explains how you are planning to get there and gives directions for the everyday running of your company.
There are 5 key elements that you should include in your business plan and they are:
- Outline your vision
- Set out your goals
- Define your funding and budget
- Forecast sales and cashflow
- Set your timelines for success
The first step in setting up a business is to have a vision because without a vision you don’t know where you’re going. In a business plan you need to explain WHY you’re in business and HOW you intend to add value for your customers.
Without having goals you won’t know if your business is heading in the right direction so you need to outline your personal goals as the founder and your strategic goals for the business. You also need to explain how these goals are aligned.
For example there has been an uptick in people starting new businesses at the traditional retirement age – are they planning to only run the business for 10 years? In which case they will need to align where they see the business going eg succession planning or selling.
To start a business you will generally require finance so you need to outline the investment that’s required and how you’ll access that funding. Then you’ll need to break down this initial investment pot into clear budgets for each operational area.
Define the profit number you need and then calculate the volume of sales needed to deliver that income. This will give a clear breakdown of the cash inflows & outflows needed to achieve positive cashflow.
In any business plan you need to be able to measure how the business is performing. Set some key milestones for the business as well as setting deadlines for meeting the goals, sales and revenues that you’ve projected.