‘Striving for success without a plan is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.’
Do you need a business plan?
Probably, yes. But that depends on where you want to go with your business. And the best news is that it doesn’t have to be more than one page, as I’ll show you here.
And then there are the ‘What If’s’. The least you should expect from a business plan is that is gets you thinking about different scenarios. Try this one. ‘What if our turnover suddenly decreased by 20%. Or indeed, increased?’ How would you handle it? A client could go under or move on, or a potential new customer could sign up. This happens more than you think.
Consider a few more. A competitor enters the market. You or a key member of staff become unable to run the business. You need to invest in technology, or outgrow your current premises and need to finance it.
Try our One-Page Plan guide to get you started. It shouldn’t take more than an hour.
The first thought is to commit to a specific time to start it. You don’t need to complete it in one session, but try to use a maximum of 3 sessions. Our experience is that any more sessions than this tends to dilute the end result.
Secondly, try to work with a colleague, or friend if you’re a sole trader. 2 questioning minds and a devil’s advocate are the best combination.
Third and probably most importantly. Be honest in answering the questions. Your target audience for this is you. It’s not a homework piece, nor is anyone else going to see this, so the only person you’ll be kidding is yourself.
Next, start writing these headlines into a document, bearing in mind that these and the descriptions all need to fit onto an a4 sheet of paper, and it needs to be readable without a magnifying glass!
Description of what our customers / clients need.
How we serve that need.
How we make money from that service (Our business model).
Our target market (who is our customer).
Why we are good at what we do and why we are better than the competition.
Description of our management team (brief relevant bio’s).
Financial summary (where we are now, today).
Do we need any funding to achieve any of the above targets?
Start with a few bullet points for each headline. They can be as wild as you like, and this is where another person is really useful. It can be far easier to come up with these with someone else’s input as well.
Then expand each bullet point, in any order, as a single sentence if possible. This is a discipline but it will focus the mind as a starting point. Once each of these bullet points has a sentence summary, you can expand on each of them, remembering the space available on your A4 sheet.
Once this process is done and you are happy with your results, that is just about it.
It’s Secrets time.
Finally, give yourself a week or so and review it. This is an absolute must and the secret to the document being useful as a business tool. You will probably find that you’ll make a couple of changes.
In fact, insist that you make at least one change to it. That should ensure that you read it again, review it and think about what you penned originally. That is secret number 2.
If possible, and this is the final secret to it being a useful exercise, print it on to an A4 sheet, frame it and put it on a wall, desk, or somewhere where you see it now and again. The loo wall seems a favourite for a few clients. Bizarre, but true!
Oh yes, the final, final secret. Don’t head it ‘Our Business Plan’ or similar, but something funny, or memorable for the date. Did your football club win on the day you wrote it? Or was it a family birthday, or did a pet do something memorable? Use that as the header. You get the idea. It’ll trigger a smile every time you look at it and keep it interesting rather than being just another business document.
Have fun with this.
If you need help with any of the above, you can always call the office and ask for the author.
It is possible that you may need a more in depth document if you need finance, investors, tax planning or just a more accurate and expanded plan to firm up where you or your business is going, I’m sure that I can help.
Call us on 01442 560050 (Northchurch) or 023 8202 7681 (Dibden, New Forest), to chat with Roger, the document’s author, or use our contact page.
BAS Associates are accountants based in Northchurch, Herts and Dibden, near Southampton and the New Forest. We are also happy to help clients in nearby locations including Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead and Tring, as well as an area encompassing Marchwood, Cadnam, Burley and Applemore.