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Planning your business

Contents: Do you need a plan? | Written? | Comprehensive plan | Simple relevant plan | Plan of action | Plans within the plan | Timeframes | Meeting goals

Do you need a Business Plan?

There has been a lot written about the importance of business plans for the success of a business. Government supports emerging businesses by paying them to produce business plans via NEIS programme.

However, there are many successful businesses who don’t produce formal business plans.

Does a Plan have to be written down?

There is no question, the discipline of writing a plan for your business assists you in remaining focussed and helps you in avoiding problems. A plan is like a map, it shows you how to get from point A to point B without getting lost. You can divert or ‘stop over’ on the journey, but as you know where your destination is, you will get there, and with very little wastage of resources.

Most people when planning for a major event in their life (for example a holiday or a wedding) have a plan. Most of the plan is in their head, and occasionally they write some points down to help them remember specific details. A business plan should be much more formal than simply ‘jotting down notes’.

Who needs a comprehensive Business Plan?

Comprehensive business plans are of importance to banks, but are frequently so unrealistic, that they are of little importance to the emerging Micro/HBB. They are time consuming to produce and many Micro businesses do not have the expertise or skill to construct them. Using a consultant is a major cost, which is often unwarranted for businesses of this size.

How can you have a simple, relevant plan?

So how does a HBB plan their business to benefit them without the frightening approach of preparing a business plan? The answer is to prepare a Plan of Action. The important facet of this type of plan, is that it is put to a time frame, allowing the operator to monitor progress.

It is advisable to have assistance in putting this plan together to make sure that the operator covers all the important goals that have to be achieved. It also increases the chances of success if the operator meets with their adviser on a monthly basis, ensuring that the Plan of Action is just that – a Plan followed by Action!

A Plan of Action

A Plan of Action is a structured plan to assist you in;

  • knowing who your customer is
  • gaining knowledge of your competitors
  • working out what your goals are
  • investigating how to achieve your goals
  • targeting time frames in which to reach your goals
  • breaking your tasks up into manageable segments
  • understanding how much money you need to commence your business, and how long it will take before you can expect a profit

It should also include such things as (HOW, WHEN, WHERE, WHY & WHAT), for example

  • What image you want to portray
  • What your logo, slogan and colours will be
  • How will you reward customers
  • How quality control will be achieved in all aspects of your business from making the product to how the phone is answered
  • Where your business will take place
  • When you will operate your business
  • Why you are in business

Plans within the Plan

The business plan should include separate plans on such topics as:

  • Networking
  • Marketing
  • Promotion
  • Financials
  • Customers/Competitors

Time frames

All plans should be placed within a time frame, and should be checked against that time frame regularly. If necessary, change the time frame or the plan – but don’t ignore the plan.

The time frame should initially be worked monthly for 12 months. Plan what you want to achieve each month. These become goals that you work towards. Then plan for weekly and finally for each day. The weekly plan should be worked out in monthly units of four, and the daily plan should be worked in weekly units of seven.

What happens when you don't meet your goals?

Remember, if you do not achieve your goals, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have failed. More likely it means that your expectations were unrealistic, or that you have forgotten some factor which influences the development of your business. It can also mean that an unexpected opportunity arose, which you took advantage of, and in turn it put your time frame out.

This is the advantage of a Plan of Action – you check your achievements against the goals you set, allowing you to measure your progress. This measurement itself, becomes part of the plan.

Once the first year of your business is completed, you can produce a two year or a five year plan. It is easier to plan for long periods of time, when you have some history behind you.

Quiz: Are you ready?
Reasons to be in business
Businesses suitable for home
Deciding location
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