A lot is being said and written about Business Planning, but when you read the articles you often find it is not a business plan but a strategy plan. I have written in the past about business plans being not very helpful, one of the reasons is that before you do the plan you need to have a vision and strategy.
A complete business plan should consist of of three parts:
- Vision – is the first step in the “entrepreneurial” process, it does not talk about sales, turnover and cost. It talks about a vision for the “whole” business for the future – 10 to 20 years ahead – it is the long-term goal, view or ideal that drives you small business or business start-up.
- Strategy – the strategy is the articulation of your vision for your small business in which you put down the practical steps by which your small business is to achieve your vision, based on your current situation. The “strategy” plan has a 3-5 year time horizon.
- Plan – your plan is only concerned with the next 12 month and is a “tactical” plan of how your small business is going to achieve your strategy.
The Vision & Strategy planning is also refereed to as corporate planning and looks at the business ( including small business) as a whole – it is not a plan for, rather than about the whole organisation. It is often said that only bigger business does this kind of planning – that is utter rubbish – you do it when you set up your small business and start-up business, like SOHO-, SME, SMB-, Micro-, Lifestyle-, Home-, DIY-, Hobby-, Boomer-, Professional-, Personal businesses, as well – you have a vision. You may not write it down in a formal way, but you a have a vision and a strategy to achieve this vision:
….. I’m going to be the number one melted cheese pie producer in the world, I’m doing it by using my mum’s secret ingredient…….”
“….. I’m going to be the best IT consultant in the world by given the best customer service anyone has seen……”
“…… I’m going to be the biggest start-up and small business infrastructure provider in the world, I’m going to do it by offering unrivaled software and 24/7 support at the lowest price possible and combine it with real live services for the small business and the business start-up community ….” oh, hang on, no sorry that one is gone already 😉
I think you should write yourself one of those sentences and then do a 12 month cash-flow based on this, if you then add a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to your plan – your are ready.
Even if you have already started your business – remember most businesses get started accidentally – it is never to late to get a piece of paper and write your vision and strategy down, it focuses the mind. Look at it every time you find it hard to make a decision – it will help.