Writing a business plan for the first time can be a daunting task.
As the dust finally settles on 2020 (what a relief that will be!) and in spite of the uncertainty that still surrounds Brexit and the pandemic, many business owners will be turning their attention to planning for the New Year.
Just as every business is different, so every plan should be bespoke. However, there are many elements in common, so here’s Finton Doyle’s top tips for writing a business plan:
- Start with the end in mind. Think about where it is you want to get to by the end of the year/decade/life of the business. Work back from the end point and add the steps you need to take along the way.
- Make it relevant. A business plan needs to have clearly defined objectives which are in support of your personal ambitions. For example, most business owners would state increasing turnover as an objective. This is a great strategy, but why do you want to do this? Do you want to:
- Retire early?
- Give yourself more time back?
- Increase your earnings?
- Sell the business?
- Create something different?
If you keep in mind the reason why you want to grow your turnover, then the path becomes much clearer, or you may even realise that growing your turnover isn’t the right objective for you.
- Keep it simple. There’s no point in trying to work out every last detail of what could happen, particularly if the time frame covers an extended period. Breaking it down into manageable chunks is a good idea too as too much detail can be overwhelming.
- Think about the resources you will need to put your plan into action. Do you need more people, a bigger building, marketing support? All these will require funding – do you need to raise additional finance?
- Make it achievable. If your plans are too ambitious this can lead to frustration as targets are likely to be missed.
- Finally, don’t worry if you don’t stick to it. Your plan needs to set out a clear direction, but it shouldn’t be a ‘straight-jacket’ – it needs to allow a certain amount of flexibility. After all, it isn’t written in stone so it can be modified if circumstances change. After all, who knows what’s around the next corner?
This blog is part of our Business Fundamentals series. Find the rest of the series here.