Big Ideas

Business Plan

Business Plan

17 January 2018

Yogi Berra said "If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else"

Engeneo Thinks

We agree with Yogi Berra – A plan is a great idea. And you are so much more likely to succeed if you know where you are going, how you’ll get there, who’s coming along for the journey, and what you’ll do when you arrive.

There’s plenty of information on the net that you can use to help you form a plan and lots of free templates are available – for example, the business.govt.nz site has top quality information and we like their templates (especially the quick-fire version) because they are easy to use and result in a set of actionable next steps. Alternatively, check out some excellent points from Xero. But before you get started we thought we’d share some of our experience and some ideas to improve the quality of your plan.

Observations & tips for a better business plan

If the two words ‘business' & 'plan’ sound a little scary, or perhaps a little boring to you, don’t worry – you don’t have to call it that. Our’s is called ‘The Engeneo Way’. Think of your own, but make that the end of your procrastination, brew up the coffee and get stuck in.

If you’ve read our earlier blog you’ll have already done some preliminary thinking and will have most of the ingredients required to make a start. If not, read here.

Our first observation is that business plans often lack focus on (arguably) the most important part – people!. Take some time now to think about the capabilities you’ll need and the talent that is required to make it all happen. Attracting and retaining the best people will be vital and for this reason, we advocate thinking this through at an early stage in your business planning process and then looping back to it and refining throughout.

Make sure you tailor the business plan for those that will use it. If this is an internal document then it is likely to be more succinct and functional than a plan written to present to a bank or investor. Be succinct, think big but be realistic, and don’t forget the story.

A plan is worthless without execution. When we assist our clients with their planning we’ll make sure that the outcome is a business plan that includes an action plan of prioritized next steps. Your action plan should make clear who is responsible and who is accountable (note these are not the same thing) plus how and when you will measure success.

Good design makes a difference. It’s useful to summarise the plan as well as the key action points on to one or two pages and then use this as a motivational tool for your team – get a designer to make it look awesome, and pin it to a wall.

We’ve noticed business owners can be too internal with their analysis and too local in their market research. Sure, your initial target customer might be local but there is a good chance that the emerging trends are not. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll pick up by researching similar businesses in foreign markets or by checking out the trends in similar industries. 

Similarly, when thinking about how a business is different the focus often stops at product or price. Where’s the magic? Innovative products and services are a great start but can be complemented by being tactical with how the business is set up and through enhancing how customers experience the business. There are many possibilities but, for example, you might gain an advantage through superior processes, or by collaborating with another business and maybe you can enhance the experience of your offering with some clever customer engagement.

Cash – don’t run out! Be conservative when building your financial model and make sure you do your homework to understand what costs will be incurred and when. Being in business can be brutal, so make sure you have enough working capital to get through the tough times and to celebrate the successes.

Finally, get help. You are not an expert in everything, so if you need help with the financial model or with the marketing strategy then seek it. Once you’ve formed your ideas and gathered your thoughts you should pull a team together challenge your thinking and create a dynamite plan.

The Engeneo way is to challenge, ask why and to help you dig a little deeper. If you’re ready to go on a bit of a business adventure, then we’re ready to join you. Check us out here for more information, or for a free discussion, call us anytime.

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