There are thousands of opinions circling the internet telling you why you should or shouldn’t have a business plan. And even more advice on when you need one and what you should use it for. Our two cents? Creating a business plan is hugely beneficial, if it’s as flexible as your business.
There are some situations in which a business plan is imperative. Essentially, any time you ask anyone for money. Ever. Bankers, like seasoned investors, aren’t convinced merely by inspired talk.
“This is how I’m going to change the world!” is a broken record playing in their office all day long. Regardless of how innovative your idea is and how passionately you convey it, without a plan you won’t get far. Your bank will be staring into those same determined entrepreneurial eyes they’ve seen so many times before.
What they really love is numbers, graphs and some solid proof. They’re going to ask you the big questions and expect a developed response. Get your answer, evidence, data and presentation all good to go. In this case, the traditional business plan is a sure-fire winner.
But, for the day to day running of your business, it can be a little different. Your business is always changing, your priorities change daily, events come and go. So, you need something flexible, just like your business.
Is it possible to create a business plan that moulds to your every move?
In order to keep your business plan dynamic, keep it editable. Create a document you can edit, when and where you need to. If you’re a visual thinker, grab a whiteboard and go to town with coloured pens, make your plan as big and grand as your vision. It takes no time at all to rub it off. Just be sure to remember to fiercely protect said whiteboard from meddling hands.
Forecasting allow you to keep dynamic records of where your business is heading. Model a range of actions into your plan, giving you the best, worst and middle case outcomes, so you can choose the best path for your business, backed up with the facts.
Tracking your progress as you go is also easy, too. Create your bespoke KPIs, so you can easily monitor the information important to you and your success. Financial or non-financial. Be it revenue per employee or average milk yield (yes, you can actually track that), our KPI library or builder have got you covered.
Additionally, these can be created as an alert, in which you can set the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ boundaries, so you’ll be notified as soon as something’s up. Keep an eye on the things that really matter to your business (and sleep soundly).
A business plan is your go-to decision maker; your one-stop source of information. Use your plan as a checklist. Does this move fit with my current intentions? Is it a route that fits and benefits my company? Your plan is there to ensure that every move you make is considered and valuable.
It’s also a fantastic opportunity to find gaps in your ideas. If you’re ploughing through work every day without a complete list of priorities and developed ideas in all areas of your business, it’s all too easy to go three months accidentally ignoring your website, for example.
If you really love and believe in your business, tasking yourself to spend a couple of days defining your aims, priorities, products, etc, should be a blessing – not a curse.