Insight

Measuring what matters – why you need a business plan

September 2018


All businesses need a business plan. A business plan gives you a track to run on by focusing your mind on targets and milestones, and allocating roles and responsibilities to give your business the best chance of succeeding. In this article we will look at why you need a business plan and what it should contain.

Why do you need a business plan?
There are many reasons why you need a business plan so, you need first to be clear on your objective. A business plan for a start-up will look different from an established business that is looking to expand. Maybe you wish to borrow from a bank or attract investors. You might be launching a new product.

Whatever your objective, your plan will document:

• What needs to happen
• When it needs to happen
• How it will happen
• Who will make it happen

What should your business plan include?

Your business plan gives a snapshot of your business and what you are trying to achieve. Remember the goal of your plan, who you’re trying to persuade and write for them in a language they will understand. Avoid jargon and business speak.

It is important to start with an executive summary that describes what’s coming later in the document. This may be as far as some readers get so you need them to grasp you and your business and give them every reason to read on.

After the executive summary you move into the meat of your business plan.  Here you will give a more detailed overview of:

• your business and your objectives
• key people in the business; this includes you and any external consultants
• your product or service and how you price it
• your target market, where it is and its potential for growth
• your competitors
• your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis)
• operational practices, processes, production methods, including premises and equipment requirements
• financial forecasts – performance, cashflow, profit and loss, and balance sheet
• your financial requirements and any security you can offer
• any client satisfaction data and testimonials you can use to support your case and build confidence with the reader.

Once you have documented everything you will have a plan that not only gives you a base from which to move forward but also allows you to measure what matters. Importantly, what gets measured gets done, so set team key performance indicators and monitor them regularly. Sharing your business plan with your team is worthwhile too as it helps everyone work towards the same goal.

Getting help with your business plan

Owning your own business doesn’t automatically equip you to plan your business future but there is help available. A skilled adviser can help you
prepare the best plan possible and secure any funding you may be looking for.

To find out more about how we, as Russell Bedford's member firm in Manchester, can help you measure what matters, and achieve your personal and business goals, visit our website www.hallidays.co.uk to read about how we helped Trust Brand Communications beat its previous year’s turnover in only eight months.

Author: Jane Bennett