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Inspirational Quotes

The Business Plan

Fri, 11 March 2011

If you're a startup, writing a business plan is a great way to gather all your thoughts and ideas together in one place, no matter how poorly formed they might be at this stage.
Don't worry about getting it right first time as it's likely that your business plan will change over time and should ideally be updated each year once you are up and running. The important thing is to get started as soon as possible as your plan will serve as the blueprint for your business and is likely to be needed whenever you approach funders, banks, lenders, investors or business partners. It also helps you spot any gaps in your knowledge and makes it easier to see the way forward for your ideas.
 
A vital element of the business plan and a good place to start is by doing market research. It's important to spend time carrying out thorough market research as this will help you gain a much better understanding of your market, who is likely to buy your products or services, which ideas are more popular than others and who your competitors might be.
 
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.
 
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.

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