The Living Business Plan – YOU!
Every business owner knows to set up in business you should have a business plan. How many of us are guilty of having a plan and letting it sit in a drawer? We either believe it is no longer relevant or we think there is no need to update it as you only need a business plan to go to the Bank!
A Business Plan is a vital document to access funding as it tells the world about who you are and what you plan to achieve. However in a traditional form it is only a snap shot of your business a point of time. But if a business plan is designed correctly it can be a plan that lives and breathes with your business; helping you to make the right decisions at the right time. That’s why we call it the Living Business Plan.
A living business plan is something fundamentally different it is about YOU. It should not only include what you tell the outside world but it also needs to be personal.
- YOU are the business owner
- YOU know why you started the business
- YOU know what you want to achieve
- YOU know when you have achieved it
- YOU know what might stop you achieving your goals
The most important part of your Living business plan is to understand what is going to stop you. I am not talking about the economy or investment these are external factors and challenges that you need to overcome. The only thing that can stop you is how you manage each of these challenges. You may not be the best at time management or sticking to your priorities; you may be awful at keeping your financial documents straight, or you just hate picking up the phone to prospects.
Being aware of the things you don’t like doing and having a plan to deal with these when required, will help enormously. There is no need to be embarrassed we all have things we either don’t want to do or don’t like doing but in business these things still need to be done.
A Living Business Plan includes 4 sections.
- Similar to a traditional plan. Answer the question of who you are, what you are providing and who is your target market. Include financial projections and market research to qualify the sustainability of your business.
- What it is you do? Identify what makes you different to the competition and the service you provide. It is important to set the standards of your services and the benchmarks you need to reach in order for you to meet your objectives.
- Ask yourself again what you do and how you do it ….. but think practically. This section tells you in detail exactly what you and your teams are going to do to deliver to EXCEED your customers’ expectations on time every time as promised. So if there is any aspect of the process you are not comfortable with highlight it now and look at your options.
- Benchmark. Measure how you perform against the plan and your competitors. Your living business plan is with you every day. You should work on it, change it and develop it as you are going along. Set yourself targets, measurements and check the business performance through these benchmarks. On a regular basis check what is working and what is not, assess why, and understand what the impact is on the rest of the business. For example offering a 10 % price discount might sell a few more products that month, but work out exactly how many more products you need to sell to reach your financial target. You may find you have to invest more money in telemarketing or advertising to get attract more customers which could wipe out any additional revenue income you were expecting.
Business is a balance. Change one thing and the balance changes and that’s usually your profits. Therefore keeping a Living Business Plan ensures you are on top of what your business is doing and making proactive decisions to take your business forward.