To Fail to Plan is to Plan to Fail

A Business Plan can take any one of a number of forms. Its complexity will depend on the size of your business, but whether your business plan is in your head or as big as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, it’s important that your business has focus and direction in order to succeed.

Research from Barclays Bank shows that 1 in 4 businesses don’t have a business plan – even though those same businesses almost certainly wouldn’t set off on a cross country road trip without a map.

In its most basic form your business plan should be a realistic look at the services and products which your business provides, and how you are going to sell them now and in the future.

You’ve probably heard of a ‘SWOT’ analysis – it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s a good place to start to take an overall look at your business now and in the future, and what the obstacles and problems to growth and survival might be along the way.

Something to aim for

No one has a crystal ball but initially making predictions about what you can achieve gives you something to aim for, and once you start to collect data you can refine your aspirations and create increasingly realistic targets and expectations, which is particularly useful if you’ve got staff who need to be reaching particular goals.

The vital thing about a business plan is that it should be a living and breathing tool that you update, use and refer to on a regular basis – not something that you leave in a drawer and dust off once every 5 years.

If you’re a small family business or work as a sole trader you might be able to cope with a business plan that you keep in your head. Ideally it’s better to get it down in a tangible format which will focus your ideas and thinking.

There’s no magic or official way to write a business plan – do whatever suits you best as long as it works. It could be a poster on the wall, a Word file, a spreadsheet, a printed booklet or even a pile of Lego blocks that you’ve personalised in black marker pen – as long as you keep referring back to it and everyone else can understand it.

Get started with free templates

The Sage website has some useful free tools and templates for business planning at this link.

As your company grows and you start to look for finance, expansion or the support of external business support agencies a business plan will become a vital tool.

Which is where we come in at Jones Harris because we’re much more than just accountants, we’re also business advisors. We’ll be able to help you to review your business activities and put together a comprehensive business plan to help your company to grow to the next stage.

Why don’t you get in touch for a no-obligation chat?

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