How to develop a business plan that you actually use

Have you ever produced a business plan, got really excited about it, and then left it on the shelf to gather dust?

 

Unfortunately, this is all too familiar for businesses, large and small, so you’re not alone.

 

Here are some quick tips to keep your plan up-to-date and use it as tool to drive your business forward.

 

Avoid using a template

We strongly recommend that you do not use a template. Create a business plan your way with your terminology and your hierarchy of categories and priorities.

 

The more it reflects YOU, the easier it will be to keep up-to-date.

 

By all means, you can look at business plan templates as a guide to what information you should include, but keep in mind that templates are not your format and are typically harder to keep live and updated.

 

Make sure your business plan contains a SWOT analysis, which stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. And have a specific action plan to address each of them.

 

What’s your mission?

The business plan should also contain your mission, vision and values.

 

Mission describes what your business is doing now, and vision is a statement about what you ultimately want to achieve.

 

This is an important step as it can give you clarity. It can also give your team much needed direction too and can assist in developing your culture.

 

Share the whole plan or parts of it with your team.

 

In fact, you may them to help you develop your mission and vision, or you could get them together to talk about and agree the values.

 

By spending time speaking with your team about the mission and vision, they’ll have a good understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing. It gives them something to buy into; greater meaning and enables them to see where their role fits in the grand scheme of things.

 

Your mission and vision can be useful for communicating with your clients and target audiences too so may want to consider adding these to your website and social channels.

 

Rolling it out and keeping it active

Have a simple implementation map, or table, of where you are going and what you need to do.

 

Give yourself timeframes of when you want to have things completed and put these in your calendar, and maybe on a whiteboard too, so you keep them visible.

 

Assess your success on doing specific actions and give yourself a reward if you and your team have done something well that was highly effective.

 

Have some accountability tools, too. Set yourself some financial goals and sales goals.

 

We recommend using software you are most familiar with to create your business plan your way, with your words and hierarchy.

 

For instance, Microsoft OneNote is a very flexible software, enabling hierarchies, multimedia and which is accessible on multiple devices and easily searchable.

 

It is so important that it’s quick and easy to find your business plan to maximize your ability to use it and keep it updated.

 

Roles and responsibilities

As part of the business planning process, it’s worthwhile mapping your role and responsibilities and those of others around you so you’re clear about what you all need to do to achieve your goals.

 

Determine what steps you need to take to fulfil your mission and achieve your ultimate vision.

 

If you’re not where you need to be, what changes need to occur? And how might that affect the roles of others once you’ve delegated those changes?

 

Cover off any legalities

An important element of your plan is to check the legal requirements of your business operations.

 

If you’re just starting up, this is particularly important. For example, if you’re in the food industry, you may be required to have a grease trap.

 

Document what you need to be legally compliant and ensure you have the funds allocated for any special equipment.

 

Use your business plan to drive your business forward

A good business plan should push you to achieve more than you would otherwise and help you be accountable for certain actions and outcomes.

 

If your performance slips, or results are not where they need to be, you can use your business plan to examine the reasons why things may have changed, or not gained momentum, and set actions in place to improve them.

Creating a plan that suits you and committing to keeping it updated is an effective way to stay focused on your goals, track your activity and business outcomes, and drive your success.

 

All the best!

 

Looking for some extra help with your business planning, bookkeeping or financial management?

 

Book a free session and let’s chat about your needs.

 

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