This months session at Crafty Business was An Introduction to Business Planning, delivered by Ben Hawley, a Start Up Advisor for Enterprising Barnsley. Ben gave us the low-down on the ‘What’, the ‘When’ and the ‘Why’ to help us learn how to plan better and achieve our goals.
Why do you need a business plan?
You don’t just walk out the door to go on holiday.
You don’t just buy the first car you see.
You don’t just move house.
You make a plan before doing any big things.
So why don’t you plan how you grow your business?
What is it for?
Business planning is a key skill every budding business owner needs. The business plan is the foundation of your business and should help you drive your business forward rather than an exercise on paper that is a chore.
A good business plan should define the vision you have of your business. Where would you like to be in a years time? 2 years? 5 years? Do you need to plan an exit strategy?
What goals do you want to reach? Can you define their values? For example maybe you would like to earn £50,000 per year, or simply make one sale. These are both valid goals, but one will obviously take longer than the other!
How do I write it?
There’s more than one way to do a business plan and talked about two alternative ways of doing a plan.
• The traditional plan
This is a simple written document which includes sections of information about your vision, mission, objectives, strategies, expenses, income and an action plan. It’s a bit boring and not flexible.
You fill in each of the sections using post-it notes which you can move from place to place as your business evolves.
This video on YouTube explains it brilliantly. If you want to go more in depth watch the following episodes.
This is a graphical way of developing a more long-term business plan. It creates a picture that summarises your strategic plan.
How do I get there?
This is the important bit – make a step by step plan of how to reach your goals. How you do this depends on what format your plan is, as some will be more complicated than others.
Break your plan up into small manageable chunks so the path isn’t too onerous.
Keep referring back to your plan, even if it’s just in your head from time-to-time, and this will help to keep you on track and focussed on your vision.
Your plan should work on a day-to-day basis and be flexible enough to still be meaningful when things out of your control change.
Some people may need a plan for each strand of the business, or for each target market.
To sum up, your business plan should communicate what you want to achieve, and how you are going to achieve it, in a step-by-step, and easy to follow path.
If you’d like help with creating your business plan we are planning a workshop in the near future. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to take part.