Planning is a vital ingredient in the success of any business. Developing a business plan is not just a requirement, but a basic necessity for building one’s business nowadays. It is an honest truth that every business needs a plan, starting from large corporations to entrepreneurs. Developing a business plan will help one build a framework that would push his business to his actual destination. The business plan helps one develop work guidelines, map out strategies, understand one’s target market, measure performance, monitor progress, make future plans and raise additional capital either for expansion or to boost operations.
Quite often, the thought on the mind of most business owners or investors is failure. The only way to overcome this failure is to address the common reasons why businesses fail up front. Presently, the world is facing though economic challenges, global economic meltdown, high cost of commodities, high rate of foreclosure and difficulties in obtaining credit from banks, stiff competition, complicated tax laws and high operational costs, etc.. All these challenges faced by businesses today, even make it more challenging for start-up businesses to survive. In today’s world, both small and large-scale businesses have come to realize the need to evaluate their business potentials and formulate strategies for the future.
However, inadequate planning has been the reason so many businesses fail, and the rate at which they fail is overwhelming. It is usually believed that most businesses fail in their first year of operation and among those that fail, 80% of them do not have a well researched plan. It has been observed that business failure is not only connected with small businesses alone which I chose not mention here, go down too. Though the rate of failure is highly significant in small businesses, and it is the main reason why a good business plan is needed. Probably for raising additional cash and to provide potential investors and lenders with the information required to make investment decisions. This makes developing a business plan extremely important. One’s business plan has to stand out and his projection has to be firm due to higher competition in attracting funding for his business. Investors no longer risk their money on businesses that do not prove to have great potentials for them.
A business plan is like a road map, it shows one the route to take, the pitfalls to avoid in order to reach his destination, For instance, if one decides to travel by road from one place to another, he would first need a road map that shows him the route to take. He will need to determine the distance and how much gas his car will need to take him to his destination. Moreover, he will need to calculate how much the journey will cost him, if he intends to raise money, if he’s borrowing, how he intends to refund the money. Putting all this into consideration, he now has a traveling plan that will take him to his destination. In the same vein, that’s what a business plan provides one with, the strategies, the route, and a road map to success.
Incidentally, the idea of working with a business plan is for one to keep focus on his set goals. Statistics has it that many businesses fail due to inadequate planning. If one doesn’t know where he’s heading to, any route seems to be the right one. Most people make great mistakes by jumping into business without adequate preparation and planning. A good business plan helps one maintain focus on his goals and execute the strategies that the plan assisted him in creating. Just like a road, one’s business plan has to be consulted to make maintain his focus and not running business in a layman’s way.
Working with a business plan, it will prevent one from entering unfamiliar territory. The plan becomes a working map for him and his organization. I t spells out the things to do and things not to do, the functions and how everyone and every department should operate. It helps one become more efficient, reduce waste and redundancy, channeling one’s resources to rightful place and being a guide to the successful running of his business.
As a performance tool, it measures the progression of goals in one’s business by tracking, monitoring, as well as evaluating, and can also be used as checkpoints in measuring performance. The world today, is so dynamic that what applied today might not apply tomorrow, and as a result of this dynamism, a good business plan needs to be setup in order to protect one against risks associated with business.
In addition to a performance tool, perfect business plan should contain other necessary tools in its system, which really make it a perfect plan. It must have a human resource tool, a marketing and strategy tool, financial tool, communication tool, and most importantly, an investor’s guide. A well-defined business plan attracts others to be part of the vision. It has to have a well-defined goal and objective that will set the stage to bring others into the business. It should inspire teamwork and creativity among its people and ensures everyone understands the goals and objectives.
However, a good business plan defines one’s target market, the class of people he intends to sell his products to, how to reach them, promote his products, in addition, defines one’s market mix- people, place, product and price. People- this defines the people involved in the promotion one’s goods and services. Product- this defines what one’s goods and services are. Place- defines the location which also includes the means of delivering the goods and services. Price- defines how much one’s products and services are worth in the market which will enable him analyze and evaluate his return on investment (ROI). A marketing and strategy tool defines one’s business strength, his weakness, his opportunities and threats. It plots a graph that helps one reduce cost while maximizing profit.
A financial tool in a good business plan enables one understand his business financial position, develops his budget and determine how his finances will be allocated. It also calculates one’s return on return on investment, analyzes his income statement, cash-flow, balance sheet, break-even point i.e. the analysis that tells one how much sales needed in order to cover expenses, which gives the basis for pricing his products and services, and at the same time calculates how much that is needed to finance one’s business which helps in making his financial needs clear.
A good business plan communicates one’s ideas to people, communicates his mission, objectives, management approach, responsibilities and demonstrates how one’s strategy will increase profitability and performance, identifying his audience without overreacting his aims and objectives of his business plan. A business communicates in two ways- Internal communication and External communication. Internal communication includes communication of corporate vision, shared value, strategies, guiding principles and employee motivation. External communication includes branding, customer relation, marketing, advertising, media and public relations etc..
A good business plan is used to attract funding from investors. Most investors will look at a business plan as a decision-making tool. There are certain things investors look out for in a business. These include one’s management team, every investor will want to know a business owner’s managerial skills, passion, and his dedication to his business. A comprehensive description of how one’s products or services should be discharged, his customer base, his market and financial analysis. A business plan should have a realistic financial forecast. Every investor will always like to see his business associate’s return of investment, cash-flow and break-even analysis. Hence, a well prepared business plan is the key to attracting investors.