Write a Business Plan That Works

This is where forward planning can help you.

A colleague once told me that ‘even a bad plan is better than no plan at all’. A bad plan at least shows that you have given some thought to the direction you want to go in.

A good plan takes time and effort, especially the first time you do one and many business owners or operators think they don’t have the time, or don’t see the value in it. But believe me… it is worth the time and effort!

It is an opportunity for you to build solid foundations for your business, based on known facts and these allow you to:

be very accurate in your plans and future projections.
avoid unforeseen pitfalls and crisis situations
spend your money and/or other resources in the most effective way
stay ahead of the market
make the most of every opportunity
be pro active and choose your own course rather than be reactive and follow everyone else
stop wasting time, effort and resources on inefficient processes and more

Good business planning involves:

looking at what you’ve done in the past few years
looking at where you are now
drawing conclusions from the above two points
based on that information determining your objective for the coming year/s
setting key strategies to help achieve the objective

Analysis of Past Performance

In this section of a business plan you look at the past year (or two) to take a good look at what worked and what didn’t. Where you came from is every bit as important as where you are going. You need to look at:

What promotional activities did you run- for example did you have any discount deals, special offers etc?
What worked? What didn’t?
Why did the activities work so well, not so well – find the reasons
Advertising campaigns
(again) What worked? What didn’t?
Why did the campaigns work so well, not so well – find the reasons
What mediums did you use? (ie Newspapers, magazines, radio. List the actual companies you used as you may have used a number of different ones.)
How much did you spend on them?
Which ones generated enquiries and which ones didn’t?
Did you keep track of the enquiries, if so, what were the results?

Keeping statistics on where enquiries come from can help you to use your advertising budget in the most effective way. There’s no point in spending a lot of money on advertising on television, for example, if most of your enquiries come from newspaper ads or word of mouth. Asking customers where they heard about you and keeping a record is the best way of determining advertising effectiveness.