Welcome to the September issue of Game Plans for Growth, the regular newsletter for business Owners and Managers. This month we look at Business Plans and how an up to date plan might be helpful even if you don’t need to go for funding.
We hope that you find this newsletter useful. Your feedback is very welcome! Please also forward this email onto other business Owners or Managers who may also find it beneficial.
If you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you have arrived? You may know that you need a Business Plan, or have an old plan that has not been updated for a long time, either way it is likely you will miss your target. If a plane flying from New York to Heathrow is 10 degrees off course, then the passengers might be surprised to land in the Orkneys or the south of France!
It is helpful to remember the old army motto ‘Prior Planning Prevents P**s Poor Performance’. If you are going on a journey you will normally plan the route, assess your progress, adjust your journey for obstacles you face such as heavy traffic, and successfully reach your destination. Could your Business Plan be a key tool in achieving the same for your business?
When drawing up your Business Plan consider the following areas:
Market: What is your current market – is it growing, stagnant or contracting; what market share do you have and are you planning to increase this?
End Game: Determine your time horizon for when you wish to achieve your goal of either a complete exit or perhaps reducing your management to a non-executive basis. Are your fellow shareholders fully on board with the business goals?
Strengths: What are your businesses key core competences? Do you have a continuing and sustainable competitive advantage? How can you build on these strengths?
Weaknesses: What are your business constraints and how could you overcome them? Your management team could be a great strength but are you sure you have the right incentives in place to hold onto them through a critical period? Do you have any management gaps such as Finance?
Opportunities: What other markets opportunities are there? What is stopping you from evaluating these and taking your business forward?
Threats: What is your competition doing? How will they respond to your success? Are there any potential new entrants to your market which could disrupt your plan?
Finance: How structured and systemised is your business? Would an external person view it as a well oiled sustainable and profitable business? Do you have robust financial reporting and controls which would inspire confidence in a buyer?
Can you work on your business rather than in it? Often it is very helpful to invite an independent person into your business to help achieve an honest and impartial view of your progress. That person could help you to see your business through different eyes and may well provide advice which will avoid common pitfalls.
The End Result
So if you wish to get off the treadmill start with setting time aside to draw up your strategic business plan. Once you have agreed your plan remember to re-visit it and check your progress at least annually. Even better prepare a detailed monthly budget which aligns with the first year of your strategic plan. This will then enable you to monitor your current performance against your monthly budget, all in the context of your strategic game plan! Then when your progress does not quite go according to plan you can evaluate different options and adjust your business to get back on track.