Tag Archives for " Business Plan "

Why Every Product-Based Business Should Have a Business Plan

If your business is focused on making or manufacturing products, most days your to-do list will be filled with tasks to make sure that process runs smoothly.

Apart from that, you will be focused on anything and everything that contributes towards getting your products in front of as wide an audience as possible. So marketing, advertising and promotions.

And then as the sales come rolling in (ker-ching!) so do your fulfilment and delivery processes, and you have to make sure they work as efficiently as possible. Day in, day out.

So yes, I know you have a lot going on!

However, it’s easy to think that, because things are ticking along, writing (or updating) your Business Plan is for the birds.

But it’s not a redundant task; quite the opposite. Let me explain why product-based businesses should use Business Plans as a matter of course:

Business Plans help you Set and Clarify your Goals

A Business Plan will help you set goals and targets that are realistic yet challenging for a certain time period.

Now, whether that time period is a year, a half-year (6 months) or a quarter (3 months) is up to you. What’s important is that you set goals and targets that make sense for where you are and crucially, that help you get where you want to go.

Business Plans help you Measure Performance

“Measuring performance” sounds serious!

But let’s face it, how will you know what’s working and what needs improvement if you don’t?

And by measure performance, I mean things like looking your revenue this month and seeing how that compares to last month’s.

If it’s at the same level or even higher – great! I’d suggest taking some time to understand why that increased occurred, and if you can replicate that going forward to ensure you consistently generate that higher revenue number.

And if lower, then you’ll want to work through the causes to mitigate and prevent them having such an effect again.

But these are things you can only take a closer look at when you track and measure.

Business Plans Make You Think about the Medium & Long-Term

It’s easy to focus on the here and now, and there are many reasons why it’s important to be present.

But one of the great things about a Business Plan is it makes you give some serious thought to where you want your business to get to in the medium to long-term.

So while it’s important to fulfil customer orders today, it’s crucial to have an understanding of what you’re aiming for after that – as well as what needs to happen to get there.

Business Plans Encourage you to Focus on the Finances

Most people shy away from keeping a close eye on the money side of things.

But the last time I checked you were running a business, not a charity?

And you can be sure that even charities and non-profits are on top of their finances, as they will not be able to continue operating if their expenses exceed donations!

A well written Business Plan will ensure you are aware of what your running costs are and by extension, your cash flow. And from that point, you can develop a good understanding of how much sales you need to make – and how much revenue you need to generate – on a regular basis, to remain a going concern and to be profitable.

How I can Help

Not sure where to start?

If you need help with your Business Planning, I have designed some tools that can help:

The first is a One Page Business Plan Template.

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The second is a comprehensive Business Plan Template, which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template above, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan. You can buy and download your copy of the Business Plan Template here.

And finally, I provide a Business Planning Service. If you would like to produce your Business Plan but can’t commit the time to do it yourself, you don’t have to worry! Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.

  • March 7, 2021

Why You’re Struggling To Grow Your Product-Based Business (and How To Fix It)

Did you start your product-based business as a hobby?

You’ve always been creative; you have a knack for making beautiful things with your hands.

You come up with concepts that are incredibly artistic; that’s your talent.

You set up a website to sell your products recently, and the feeling you had when you made that first sale to someone who wasn’t a supportive friend or family member?

Unmitigated joy. Not to mention relief!

You have run your product-based business since then, but you’re at a point where you’re stuck. (It’s a good problem, I might add!)

Customers love your product, you’re gaining loyal advocates and followers online and may even have won an award or two.

However deep down, you know you want more.

Not only that; you know that the current state of play isn’t sustainable is you’re to take this business to the next level…

…so here’s why you’re struggling to to grow your product-based business (and how to fix it).

You Don’t Have a Vision or a Plan

It’s one thing to make the decision to monetise your creativity or idea.

Having a vision of where you want your new business to be in 2, 5 or 10 years is quite another.

“Calm down”, I hear you say. “I’ve only just started!”

That may be true, but having a picture of where you want to be gives you a clear purpose, and sets the scene when it comes to your goals and planning for the future.

There Is a Lack of Clear Goals & Objectives

While vision is a broad statement of where you want to be, your goals and objectives are more specific and go into detail about what you want to achieve, and when.

I’ll give you an example.

If you produce mugs which you customise with quirky quotes and are based in Edinburgh, your vision might be: “To be the go-to provider of branded gift mugs to corporate organisations in Scotland”.

The goals and objectives to achieve that could include: “To sign up 50 new corporate clients by the end of Q2 (in anticipation of the Christmas season in Q4)”.

That level of details is what’s needed so you and your team (if you have one) can focus on what needs to be done.

There Is No Mechanism To Measure or Track Progress

 

There’s a popular saying: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.

To begin with, you need to track and measure to know what the current state of play is in your business, where you really stand.

For example, how much do you make from sales every month? Is it usually quite consistent, within a certain range, or does it fluctuate wildly from one month to the next?

Once you understand that you can use the current status as a benchmark going forward, as it will be clear whether your performance in different areas and metrics is improving or deteriorating.

To continue with the sales example, you can track your sales monthly, quarterly and so on. And from that, you will begin to track trends and maybe even some seasonal factors that have a positive or negative impact on your performance.

All of which only become clear when you track and measure.

There Are Too Many Distractions

In our social media age, it’s almost impossible not to be bombarded with distractions.

You see what your peers and competitors are up to, and before you know it?

Comparison-itis.

It’s so easy to get distracted by following this trend or that, and it’s not uncommon for several of these kinds of distractions to occur.

Before long, you’re spending your time, energy and maybe even money on tasks and initiatives that are irrelevant and completely immaterial to your goals.

It’s a tough one, but it pays to stay in your lane.

Just because something is right for that other business, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for yours. And even if it is, this may not be the right time for it.

There Is No Focus on Income and Expenses

This is one I see happen often:

You love what you do, and you have a loyal and enthusiastic following on social media.

You get caught up in creating your product, responding to comments and queries online, selling, doing giveaways, offering discounts to family and friends…

……there’s always so much activity. But you haven’t stopped to assess how much you make and spend in any given month.

Is your income at least the same as your expenses?

Because if it’s not, you’re running at a loss, and you aren’t even breaking even.

Now, sometimes it’s acceptable for a new business to run at a loss in the initial stages, but by focusing on income, expenses and the financials as a whole you’ll know what your monthly run rate is, and can plan to get to a position which is more sustainable.

There Is No Foundation For a Grown-Up Conversation About Funding

Following on from the last point about income, expenses and financials. Without those in place, how can you even begin to look for investment and funding?

There are standard questions you must be prepared to answer when looking to scale with external funding, and having the answers ensures you can have a grown-up conversation about raising funds.

And even you intend to fund your growth plans yourself? I would suggest treating your bank account with the same respect and seriousness you would an external investor.

What’s Next?

You’re struggling because you haven’t got a vision or a Plan, you haven’t set your goals and objectives, you aren’t measuring or tracking your progress, there are too many distractions, you aren’t focused on your income and expenses, and you aren’t prepared to have a grown-up conversation about funding and scaling.

In short, the reason why you’re struggling to grow your product-based business is because you don’t have a Business Plan.

A Business Plan that is well-written and goes into the right amount of detail will cover your vision, explain how those translate into bite-size goals and objectives, help focus your mind and efforts on tasks and activities that deliver a return, and force you to look into the nitty-gritty of your business finances.

A Business Plan is what you need to fix these struggles.

How I Can Help

Not sure where to start?

If you need help with your Business Planning, I have designed some tools to help.

The first is a One Page Business Plan Template.

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The second is a comprehensive Business Plan Template, which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template above, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan. You can buy and download your copy of the Business Plan Template here.

And finally, I provide a Business Planning Service.

If you would like to produce your Business Plan but can’t commit the time to do it yourself, you don’t have to worry! Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.

Should I Start a Business During the Pandemic?

When the coronavirus pandemic first broke out and initial restrictions on movement, business and social interactions were imposed back in March 2020, the hope was that it would all be over within a few months, at the most.

When such expectations were shown to be fanciful at best, the impact on the economy became clear as business after business – and sector after sector – started to feel the effect on sales and revenue as they haemorrhaged customers.

For some staff the effect was almost immediate, with record numbers losing their main source of livelihood.

Various schemes were announced by the government and while the support has been lauded as one of the most generous and wide-ranging in the world, it hasn’t enough to stem the tide of closures and job losses.

It’s not all bad news though. As unemployment figures increased there has been a trend which, while fascinating, is just as surprising:

A record number of new businesses were incorporated in 2020. (Incorporation is the process by which a new or existing business registers as a legal entity such as a limited liability company, that is separate from the people who own or run it. This is a good guide to incorporating a company).

When you consider that this does not take into account micro-businesses such as the myriad of new creative ventures on platforms such as Etsy and Shopify, and sole entrepreneurships in areas as varied as consulting, coaching and wellness, it’s safe to say that an unprecedented (sorry, that word again!) number of people have taken the decision to launch out into the deep.

Do you have a brilliant idea, but are discouraged by all the bad news?

Have you spotted a gap in the market, for which demand could be met by an idea that keeps you awake at night?

Perhaps you’ve been put off by the gloomy economic outlook?

Don’t be deterred. I know it doesn’t look like it, but this is a brilliant time to get going with your idea and start a business. Here’s why: 

There is a Wealth of Opportunities:

Without question this is a difficult time, the most challenging of our lifetime. Finances, relationships and even our health is being tested.

But in the midst of it all, there are opportunities to meet customer needs.

An example is the rise in food delivery businesses. With restrictions putting a halt to our culture of dining out and children at home round the clock, takeaways are a saviour for parents who are exhausted with homeschooling during the day, who need some respite at the end of the day.

There are stories of companies that have started or pivoted manufacturing items we previously never gave a second thought, but which are now essential such as personal protective equipment, masks and hand sanitiser.

The drive to provide goods and services online is also a huge opportunity for niches such as web design and development, copywriting, software sales and cybersecurity.

What opportunities could you harness and turn into a going concern? 

There are Significant Gaps in the Market:

Such gaps may have existed before the pandemic, or could have been created as a consequence of it.

Either way, it’s worth taking note and assessing how you could fill one of more of those gaps.

One example is that with the explosion in home working, many have realised they don’t have the best set-up when it comes to furniture. There has been huge demand for items like desks and ergonomic chairs, not to mention devices such as laptops, tablets and monitors which are needed for families to work and do their schoolwork at the same time.

Another is that because we are all more sedentary there has been an increase in demand for the services of professionals such as osteopaths and physiotherapists.

Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of a permanent job in a large healthcare practice or are on furlough. Could this be the best time to set up on your own?

Best Time to Innovate:

Historically, many businesses were borne in the midst of economic adversity.

Household names such as Microsoft, Airbnb, Groupon, WhatsApp and Uber all started when others thought they should have waited till the environment was more favourable.

But their founders knew they had something new and different to offer; something innovative which would make a dent in the marketplace, be of use, and make a positive contribution to communities.

Are you holding back on releasing your very good idea to the world?

It might be big or small, helpful in the fight against the virus or something that provides entertainment and light relief.

Whatever it is, don’t sit on it. Now, more than ever, is the best time to start a business.

What You Need To Start a Business:

One of the first things you need to kickstart your idea and bring it to life is a Business Plan.

It clarifies your intentions and prompts you to carefully consider what your customers need, and that’s just the beginning. Here are the reasons why you need a Business Plan, which I strongly recommend you start off with.

And your size or sector doesn’t matter; a Business Plan is a crucial part of your success.

Some tend to think they don’t need one if they are a sole entrepreneur running a micro-business, for example.

But nothing could be further from the truth! Here are 4 myths about Business Planning and why they are not true.

And finally, I have produced some Business Plan Templates which will make the process of writing yours so much easier.

They are available to purchase; find out everything you need to know about my Business Plan Templates here.

4 Reasons To Buy My Business Plan Templates

Since I launched my Business Plan Templates, I’ve had lots of amazing feedback.

However, I’ve also had a few people question why they should pay for them, when a simple internet search will produce countless results of free templates which can easily be downloaded.

This may have crossed your mind, and it’s a valid question. Here are 4 reasons to buy my Business Plan Templates.

1. My Business Plan Templates Save You Time

As someone who has worked with Leaders and Entrepreneurs for close to two decades, I know exactly what you do, what you need and what your constraints are.

And one of your biggest constraints? Time.

There aren’t enough hours in the day to complete everything on your To-Do list.

2. My Business Plan Templates Are Designed For Your Convenience

With my Business Templates, sitting down to write your Business Plan isn’t the onerous task you’ve undertaken in the past.

They are laid out for you in such a way that you can get going quickly, and are never at a loss when it comes to what you need to fill in.

The prompts act as a helpful guide; it’s like having your hand held through each stage of the process.

3. My Business Plan Templates Cater For Your Needs

They really do. 

If you’re a Small Business Owner who either doesn’t have much time to devote to planning, or is writing a Business Plan for the very first time, the One Page Business Plan Template is a great place to start.

With it, you’ll get a basic plan covering the essentials you need to run a Small Business, in a concise format.

For medium-sized businesses and start-ups, your very size and the nature of your activities dictates that you delve into more details when planning.

For both, I recommend the Full Business Plan Template. As it covers all the areas relevant to achieving ambitious goals, especially if raising funds in on the horizon in the short to medium-term.

 

4. My Business Plan Templates Are Tried and Tested

Don’t just take my word for it!

Hear what Fay Wallis of Bright Sky Career Coaching had to say:

“When I first set up my business I was confident in my ability to provide a good service to my clients but I knew absolutely nothing about running a business.”

“After muddling through my first year, I realised I needed a proper business plan. Having researched business plan templates for weeks, Adanna’s One Page Business Plan was the perfect solution. It enabled me to properly consider how to move my business forward, with helpful prompts to get me thinking. I’m happy to say that I’m no longer muddling through, due to having a clear plan of action via my Business Plan.”

So what are you waiting for?

How I can Help

Here is everything you need to know about my Business Templates and I’ve included a summary below, and details of how to purchase.

The One Page Business Plan Template

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The Full Business Plan Template

This is a comprehensive template which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan.

You can buy and download your copy of the Full Business Plan Template here.

And If You Need Even More Than The Templates Offer…

My Business Planning Service is designed to support:

  • People who want a Business Plan, but prefer to have a solution that is even more customised than the Templates
  • Departments or organisations that are unable to commit the time or resources to do the planning themselves.

Contact me to discuss, so we can arrange to get started on yours.

Why You Should Re-visit Your Business Plan

You understand why you need a Business Plan.

Not only did you have plans in your departments and organisation as a whole, they were used to track what the Senior Leadership Team wanted to achieve up until the end of Q1 2020…

…then the pandemic happened, and life as we knew it changed significantly.

Many businesses suffered, with some driven to the brink. For others the shutdown and restrictions on movement meant they could not keep up under the strain and unfortunately, they had to close their doors for good.

Still, other businesses found they have either had to pivot or quickly adapt their operating models and offerings to survive. Perhaps your organisation is in this category?

And as 2021 kicks off in earnest, it seems restrictions are set to continue in one form or another for the next few months at least.

With so much change that is fast-moving and new government policies announced at very short notice, it’s easy to wonder if it’s worth bothering to spend any time planning.

And while I sympathise with the sentiment, the truth is that planning ahead is now more crucial than ever. Here are 3 reasons why you should re-visit your Business Plan.

1. Re-visit Your Business Plan to Take Stock

The Number One reason why you should re-visit your Business Plan is to review how your organisation performed during the last year. (Note that this could also be the last quarter or half-year, but a year tends to be the most common time period captured in Business Plans).

The first step to hitting your targets in 2021 is having a clear understanding of:

  • Current status
  • What worked well in the last time period
  • What can be improved on (and how).

Don’t worry if your organisation abandoned its Business Plan amidst the melee of the pandemic. I can confirm yours wasn’t an isolated case! Countless others were thrown off-course by the sudden shock of dealing with and reacting to such unique circumstances, but the point of this review is to take stock and re-group.

2. Re-visit Your Business Plan to Focus on New Priorities

Considering the year we had in 2020, it’s a given that the state of play in your organisation has changed.

From the sudden move to 100% remote work for your teams to decisions about resourcing and headcount, it’s impossible to have reached year-end without being impacted significantly.

And with that impact, your priorities must have changed.

Re-visiting your Business Plan will give you the opportunity to identify new priorities and re-focus. Not just on priorities deemed important, but on those that are truly relevant for your people, processes, technology and customer base in the current climate.

3. Re-visit Your Business Plan to Allow for Contingencies

It has taken us 10 months to get our heads round what can only be described as once-in-a-lifetime events.

So by now you must have some level of experience, and a good grasp of the areas in your organisation where you need to build in more slack.

Re-visiting your Business Plan is crucial to update your contingency plans. And as you now know, this isn’t simply to cover the usual areas as you’ve done in previous years.

Examples of things to consider are:

  • If yet another lockdown is announced – or if the current one lasts longer than expected – what are the logistics for delivering your products and services to your customers? And do you have a backup?
  • Your remote teams find themselves unable to log on to the VPN on a Monday morning. In spite of rigorous efforts to resolve, the problem persists for more than a day! What contingency can be developed around such issues?
  • Are there alternative or additional income streams to research and develop, to ensure your bottom line is not negatively impacted in the event of another protracted lockdown?

How I Can Help

If you need help with Business Planning in your department or organisation, I provide a Business Planning Service.

It’s designed to support organisations that for some reason, are unable to commit the time or resources to do the planning they know they need.

Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.

4 Myths About Business Planning

There are several myths out there in the general consciousness about the relevance and importance of Business Planning. They range from debates about business size, to questions about the amount of time it takes (and whether it is worth it).

The aim of this blog post is to debunk some of these, so here are 4 myths about Business Planning:

1. Business Planning Isn’t Necessary For Solo Entrepreneurs

One of these thoughts may have crossed your mind:

“I run a small business. Do I really need to bother with a Business Plan?”

Or,

“There’s only me! I’m a one-(wo)man band, so I don’t really need one.”

But you’d be wrong.

A Business Plan applies to businesses of all sizes and sectors.

While it’s true that smaller operations may not need to go into the same level of detail as their larger counterparts, the concept of planning, researching the market, ensuring your offering is what your target audience wants and needs, and working through the various strategies for pricing, marketing and sales are universally required, and are essential regardless of whether you’re running a multinational organisation, a medium-sized business, or a solo enterprise.

2. Business Planning Takes Too Much Time

In many businesses the thinking is that, because Business Planning requires a time commitment, it is an optional extra that can be dropped off the To-Do List in favour of powering ahead with other tasks which are deemed more important…

…but nothing could be further from the truth.

A Business Plan is a crucial part of your activities, and carries a higher priority than most. How else will you clarify your intentions, as well as your mission, objectives and success measures?

You do need to invest some time on it upfront, but a suggestion is to consider that investment as saving you time and money in future. Failing to plan can have serious consequences, and you save yourself all sorts of hassle by planning ahead.

Besides, remember that if you are really struggling to find the time to do it yourself, you can always outsource it.

For example, I provide a Business Plan writing service which is for people who know it’s crucial for their business success but for whatever reason, can’t get round to doing it themselves. Contact me here to find out more about my Business Planning service.

3. Things Always Change, so Business Planning Isn’t Worth It

It’s true that things change.

As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change.

At certain times more than others, it can seem like the economic realities and state of the market are evolving faster than ever, and your products and services need to adapt at a similar speed (case in point: 2020).

But the fact that things change doesn’t negate the benefits of planning ahead.

Where a lot sits outside your control – such as a global pandemic, public health emergency and unprecedented lockdown restrictions – there is so much you still have the ability to anticipate, plan for and implement.

And don’t forget: A Business Plan is not set in stone. It is a “living” document which is meant to be reviewed at regular intervals so yes, you need to keep updating it to reflect changing realities both internally and externally to your business.

Needing to review and update your Business Plan doesn’t make it irrelevant or unnecessary. If you’re still unsure, the reasons why you need a Business Plan are explained here.

4. Business Planning Only Works If You Are Good With Numbers

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a mathematical genius, or whether you hated maths at school!

None of that precludes you from having a successful business, and doing the necessary planning to get you there.

There’s no sugarcoating it: If you don’t keep an eye on the numbers in your business, what you’re doing is more of a hobby. Plus, you may not even have that in a few months’ time!

While terminology such as “Sales Forecast” and “Projected Cash Flow” may be discouraging, it is helpful to stop and think what the words mean.

For example, “Projected Cash Flow” is simply a summary of how much cash you need to run your business from day to day. In other words, it’s the amount of cash you need to have readily available each month to cover your expenses such as payments to yourself, staff and suppliers, as well as costs for software, rent, utilities, transport and so on.

For your Sales Forecast, start by working out the minimum amount of sales you need to make to cover your costs. So how much revenue do you need to generate to break even, how many units do you need to sell to cover your costs, overheads and expenses?

It is also useful to anticipate how much sales you will make. I like to use a two-scenario approach:

A best-case scenario, where you make the maximum amount of sales if everything goes according to plan.

A worst-case scenario where you consider various factors which may come into play to stop you achieving your targets, but are still positioned to generate sufficient revenue.

That way you will be prepared, even when life’s obstacles come your way.

How I Can Help

If you need help with your Business Planning, I have designed some tools that can help:

The first is a One Page Business Plan Template.

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The second is a comprehensive Business Plan Template, which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template above, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan. You can buy and download your copy of the Business Plan Template here.

And finally, I provide a Business Planning Service. If you would like to produce your Business Plan but can’t commit the time to do it yourself, you don’t have to worry! Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.

Why You Need a Business Plan

It’s a common mistake to make.

Many people skip writing a Business Plan, because they consider it to be too much of a hassle.

But if you run your own business, are looking to start one, or are in charge of a significant section of a corporate organisation such as a department, group of departments or region, it is worth making that investment of time and effort upfront.

If you’re still procrastinating about getting yours done, here are 4 reasons why you need a Business Plan:

1. A Business Plan Clarifies Your Intentions

Many businesses waste time and money pursuing vanity projects that have no alignment with their actual goals and targets.

It’s easy to drift and get distracted by shiny objects when your business intentions aren’t clear.

The sections in a Business Plan about “Mission” and “Objectives” will help focus (or if necessary, re-focus) your mind on the purpose of your business, and what it has set out to achieve.

For example, if your business is a tech start-up you’ll clarify exactly what you aim to achieve in the coming weeks and months.

You will refer to it regularly to make sure that everything you do – your marketing, sales and growth strategy, PR and social media – matches up with what you’ve set your business up to do, and the people you want to reach. It will serve as an effective way of keeping you on track.

2. A Business Plan Prompts You To Carefully Consider What Your Customers Need

Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs tend to be adventurous and creative; always pushing boundaries and aiming to achieve more.

Left to your own devices, you could easily dream up a warehouse full of cutting-edge products and services. But…

…is anyone out there asking for them?

Does anyone need them?

Do your products and services recognise and directly address key pain points of the demographic you are looking to reach?

A well-written Business Plan prompts you to ask (and answer) important questions about existing and impending customer demand, and how your products and services will meet them.

3. A Business Plan Helps You Zero In On Your Target Market

A good Business Plan will have a section on your target market.

And apart from the obvious bit about who your products or services are designed for, it will prompt you to analyse and detail crucial aspects such as the current state of the market, how it could change, upcoming trends and any gaps in the market that are just waiting to be filled.

So, is the market thriving?

Are your products and services the sort of things that people would spend money on?

Or, are things in a bit of a decline, and are budgets on products and services such as yours starting to get cut? (Note that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It just means that you can prepare and adjust your business model accordingly).

Are there any changes afoot? Any upcoming regulations that will have an impact on how you operate or interact with your customer base?

A good example was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which took effect in all European Union countries in May 2018, and required all businesses to implement new data protection and privacy processes complying with the new regulations by the deadline.

The work involved to do that was significant, and businesses had to incorporate this into their plans and budget  in the lead-up to that date.

Researching and knowing such aspects will help you position your proposition in the best possible way, and make the most of any gaps in the market that are not served by your competitors.

4. A Business Plan Forces You To Plan For The Money

This is the section of Business Plans people struggle with the most!

​It’s also THE most important part. 

How else will you know how much you should aim to make as a minimum to cover your costs each month, and how much cash you must have in the bank to keep your business running as a result?

Ignore the finances, and you could soon end up in dire straits.

Do You Have a Business Plan?

And don’t forget that a Business Plan is a living document; it’s never “done”.

As time goes on you may gain more clarity on different elements and you can adjust them to be more specific, or to reflect changes in your business or the general landscape.

Also, it’s something you need to review regularly, since your Business Plan is meant to guide you and help you track your business activities and key metrics throughout the year (I recommend a quarterly review).

With respect to small and medium-sized businesses in particular, I did a straw poll and was interested to find the majority did not use a Business Plan for their planning and forecasting.

Is that the same for you?

What To Do Next About Your Business Plan

If you need help with your Business Planning, I have designed some tools that can help:

The first is a One Page Business Plan Template.

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The second is a comprehensive Business Plan Template, which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template above, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan. You can buy and download your copy of the Business Plan Template here.

And finally, I provide a done-for-you Business Planning Service.

If you would like to produce your Business Plan but can’t commit the time to do it yourself, you don’t have to worry! Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.

7 Things You Need To Do Before You Write a Business Plan

Producing a Business Plan – or getting it done for you – is a big decision.

(And if you are in any doubt as to why you need one, read this blog post which explains Why You Need a Business Plan).

However, it can be frustrating if you understand how important it is and have made the call to get it done, but find yourself woefully unequipped for the task ahead.

Doing the planning in your business requires commitment, and is an investment of your time. To make sure you have everything you need to start and complete the task, here are the 7 things you need to do before you write a Business Plan.

1. Know Your Business

I know this sounds patronising.

After all, who knows your business better than you?

I assure you it isn’t meant to be.

The point I’m making is that, as well as being able to give an overview of your business, you must be able to articulate aspects such as the central idea behind it, your mission and objectives, and who your main competitors are.

You must know have the fundamental and foundational information about your business at your fingertips.

2. Study The Market

What is the current state of the market you operate in?

Is it primed for growth?

Is it fairly stable, or is it in decline?

Are there any notable underlying trends?

What is the demand in the market, and how do your products or services meet that demand?

What’s your Unique Selling Proposition, and are there any gaps in the market which you intend to fill?

As you prepare to write your Business Plan, you need to do some preliminary research about the state of the market you will operate in, so you can ensure you are best placed to do so.

3. Identify Your Target Audience

Which segment of the market have you designed your products and services for?

As an example, are you targeting men or women? Or, are your products and services suited to both genders?

If your target audience is women, are you focused on career women, or stay-at-home mothers?

Are your products and services geared towards people within a certain age range?

Are they based in cities, suburban or rural areas?

Are they early adopters or technophobes?

What are their problems, and which of these will you solve with your products and services?

These are some of the questions which must frame your offering. And answering them is crucial, because sometimes it’s easy to forget that our products and services are not necessarily meant to meet OUR needs.

Your products and services have to meet the needs of your target audience. Always remember that your success is dependent on solving their problems.

4. Think About Your Pricing, Marketing and Sales Strategies

Take the time to think about your pricing strategy.

Most of the time, people think this involves plucking a price out of the air, but there’s more to it than that!

How much does each unit cost to produce, and what margin will the market tolerate on top of that?

How does that then match your expectations for income and profit?

Then, you need to think about how to market and sell products and services.

Social media makes advertising and marketing more accessible but bear in mind that what works for a similar business may not necessarily work for yours.

So, do a bit of research, and have some intentions for how you will conduct your sales and marketing campaigns. Brainstorm some ideas about how you will price, market and sell your products and services.

5. How Will You Measure Your Success?

“Measure your success” sounds boring, I know!

But as they say, anything that is measured and watched improves.

That’s why you need to work out how to do this in advance.

If you don’t, how will you know what you’re working towards?

And more importantly, how will you know when it happens?

It doesn’t have to be complicated to assess or calculate. But you do need to key metrics in place to understand how your business is performing.

6. Plan Your Finances

This part can be easy to skip, but is probably the most important of all.

You need a certain amount of cash to run your business every month. Sum up your expenses (and don’t forget to include your salary).

What does the total come to? That’s the amount you need to have available. Not invoiced and waiting to be paid; actual cash in the bank. Anything less, and you immediately have a cash flow problem.

Many a business was successful on paper and in terms of invoiced amounts, but ended up filing for bankruptcy because it simply couldn’t meet its obligations when they were due.

Another key point to address is the length of time you think it will take to make a profit.

It’s not unusual for some businesses not to make a profit for some months, or even years. As long as you know that upfront and are prepared for it, it’s not a problem.

But if that’s the case, do you have an idea of what the losses will come to each month? How will this be funded, and how long can you sustain that?

In my experience people either don’t plan for these scenarios, or are far too optimistic with their figures. It’s better to err on the side of caution and make too much provision, than to fall short and find yourself at a loose end.

7. Don’t Be Intimidated By Your Business Plan!

And finally, don’t be intimidated!

Where I’ve recommended doing research, please don’t think it has to be onerous.

Ask your family and friends.

Use the internet.

Create a poll using SurveyMonkey or Google Polls.

Some professional bodies – such as the Institute of Directors – offer research sessions which you can access as part of their membership.

If you belong to a professional body, check to see if they can help you do some. They may have done something similar already and have some statistics you can use.

What Are the Next Steps?

If you need help with your Business Planning, I have designed some tools that can help:

The first is a One Page Business Plan Template.

It’s short and concise, while containing all the essential elements you need in a Business Plan.

And in addition, it contains helpful prompts which will guide you along the process.

You can buy and download your copy of the One Page Business Plan Template here.

The second is a comprehensive Business Plan Template, which contains all the sections and details you would find in a typical Business Plan such as the Product & Service Range, Target Audience, Market Analysis, Milestones & Metrics, and Financials.

Similar to the first template above, it also has helpful prompts to guide you as you complete it and produce your Business Plan. You can buy and download your copy of the Business Plan Template here.

And finally, I provide a done-for-you Business Planning Service.

If you would like to produce your Business Plan but can’t commit the time to do it yourself, you don’t have to worry! Contact me about my Business Planning Service, and we can arrange to get started on yours as soon as possible.