Business Planning – Where to Start?
Some business owners and managers, who have never written a business plan before, can suddenly wake up to the need to put some structure on their journey into the future, instead of leaving it all to chance or deciding to – let’s see what happens first. This awakening to the need for business planning is key to building a predictable and sustainable future for your business.
However, all too often the business planning commences before the business owner grounds himself in the here and now. This can render the business plan useless or completely ineffective. This means that you need to take a step back from the future and ground yourself in the past before you start the business planning process.
So once you take the important decision that a business plan is necessary for delivering a coherent and realizable future for you business, what do you do next? In my view, the best place to start is in examining where your business is today and the steps you have taken in the past to get the business to the here and now.
Past decisions and actions leave their imprint on the business and it is relatively straightforward to analyze the key decisions taken in the past, and to uncover what they delivered. It is imperative that you become clear on the management decisions that generated the most wins and the most losses up until the present time.
If you are new to the business planning process, and to carrying out a reliable and accurate business analysis, you don’t have to do this in a vacuum wherein you struggle to figure out where to start; what is involved; and how to know when you have completed the process.
Business Planning Templates
There are business planning templates available on the web to guide you through the necessary steps. Some are free and some you have to pay for. You can start with a simple one-page business plan using the Business Model Canvas to create a viable headline plan (the what), and then put meat on the bones by adding the how, the whom, the when, as well as the likely revenues and costs.
Financial Analysis Tools
There are also financial analysis models available on the web that will allow you to grasp the meaning of the underlying numbers in your profit and loss account and balance sheet, and these are particularly useful if you don’t really like working with numbers. And if all else fails, you can always hire a business analyst or consultant to guide you step-by-step through the business and financial analysis process. Your base line financial performance is inextricably linked to your future financial performance and so there is little point in forecasting extraordinary growth and profitability if historically your business has just broken even.
Business Analysis Tools
But is there an easier way for business owners to grasp all the knowledge they need to take their business forward to the next level? What if I told you that you could avoid spending days and weeks soul-searching your business history and gain a thorough understanding of the status quo in your business and what has got it to this point in time, in just 90 minutes of active engagement on your computer?
What if I told you that you do not need to engage directly with anyone or spend hours or days explaining your business to a stranger? What if I told you that you can get a complete financial analysis carried out on your business by simply copying the numbers from your profit and loss statement and balance sheet into a simple model that tracks key performance indicators?
The good news is that there is an online product that does all of this analysis for you, and it is available today on http://howsmybusinessdoing.com. It’s called HowsMyBusinessDoing. Yes, it gets under the skin of your business and tells you what the business does well and what it does poorly. Yes, it allows you to carry out a financial analysis that delivers an easy-to-understand summary of all key financial trends. And, yes, it actually mirrors how a bank or investor might look at the business.
So the key question is – what would I need to spend to quickly get all of this information? You are probably thinking thousands of dollars. Wrong. You can get a 50+ page report on your business, which includes benchmarking it against observed best business practice, and a financial analysis report, for just $497. You can have a second run through the system to measure your improvements in 3 or 6 months time for just $50. If your business changes, so will the report you get.
Business Planning Tools
Understanding where your business is now, and how it is performing, is only the starting point in the business planning process. You need to take this knowledge and plug it into a structured business plan that acts as a roadmap for the future of your business. We offer a business planning tool and business planning template for purchase on our sister website – www.niallstrickland.com. If you purchase HowsMyBusinessDoing today, we will throw in our comprehensive business planning product as a complimentary bonus.
This combination of business assessment and business planning in a single comprehensive and integrated package will move you from questioning where your business stands today, to charting a bright future that your entire team can embrace and follow. Remember, what gets written down has a far better chance of getting done than some vague plan in your head. The sharing of the plan with your team, and getting the input from team members, will lock down what you are trying to achieve as well as creating buy-in from team members.
If you have any business planning questions, feel free to comment below or drop us an email. We will be happy to share our knowledge with you.