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Business Plan and Start Up Newsletter Issue #1028-Business Plan Maintenance
March 16, 2006

New Page 10

Business Plan And Start Up Newsletter

March 2006
Written by Shaunta Pleasant
President, TL Manage Inc.

Business Plan Pro 2006...

Everything banks; lenders and the SBA look for! Produce your business plan quickly and easily... For entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Business Plan Pro 2006


********Table of Content********

Business Plan Maintenance...

Strategic Business Planning - Don't Plan to Fail By Failing to Plan...

A Few Cool Helpful Notes...


The Importance Of A Business Planning Blog

Business Plan Maintenance
By Palo Alto Software, Inc.

A business plan is not a one-time document, at least it shouldn't be. Most businesses put together a business plan during their start-up phase to organize, attract partners and employees, and to try and get a loan or financial investment. This is a great use of a business plan, however far too often once the company has started up the plan isn't touched again.

Ultimately, a business plan is about results, about making your business better. If you don't think doing a business plan will improve your business, then don't do one. Planning for planning's sake is a waste of time.

Where a plan is most likely to make your business better is by allowing you to:

  1. Set priorities properly.
  2. Track plan vs. actual results and make course corrections.
  3. Plan and manage the critical numbers that aren't intuitive: not just profit and loss, but the relationship to cash flow, balance sheet, and ratios.
  4. Communicate your plan to others: partners, employees, lenders, and investors. You may have a great plan in your head, but as soon as you need to explain it to others, you need to write it down.

Reviewing Your Plan
So how do you maintain your business plan? We have to first establish that without regular review -- monthly or at least quarterly review of your planned vs. actual results, with practical analysis of the reasons for variance -- planning is likely to be a waste of time.

Real planning requires regular reviews just as much as navigation requires knowing where you are as well as where you were and where you wanted to go.

Every real plan needs to be full of specific dates, budgets, forecasts, and management responsibilities. People involved have to know there will be tracking and following up on specifics. Then that plan must be reviewed against results, and those reviews should produce course corrections and fine tuning.

Generally a business hopes for a consistent long-term strategy built on short-step incremental changes, not major revisions. Consistency is important to strategy, and the business should avoid the temptation to jump around from one strategy to another so quickly that no strategy is ever really implemented. Remember that even a mediocre strategy well and consistently implemented is much better than a brilliant strategy that wasn't implemented.

However, businesses do come to crossroads demanding major revisions in their business plan. These are some signs that indicate its time to review your plan:

  • Major changes in market situation. Look especially for changing market factors and changing market behavior.
    • Have your underlying business assumptions changed? As an example, the Internet has changed the business landscape so enormously that in some industries almost any plan that was developed without a view of the Internet may need revisions. That may not be true for a landscape architect or restaurant, but for a travel agent, graphic artist, or market researcher it's obvious.
    • Do you have new competition? Have new competitors emerged, or existing competitors changed the business landscape so much that you need to review and revise?
    • Has the product or service picture changed? For example a new technology may have emerged, changing the market perception of what you sell. There may be new products or services offering related solutions to the same user needs you satisfy.
  • Major changes in internal situation. The most obvious major changes are changes in ownership, which are frequently the result of changing partnerships, divorces, deaths, and investment. The company takes on new partners, or sells out to a larger company. On a more ominous note, the company suffers significant declines in sales, profits, and financial health.
Always keep the revision in perspective. While you do want to review and correct constantly, you don't want to change a strategy unless you are sure it isn't working or you see real changes in the underlying assumptions that formed the foundations of strategy.

Maintaining Your Plan
The purpose of maintaining your plan is to use business results to guide your future decisions. The plan itself has no value if it doesn't help you improve business. That's regardless of how good or bad, how brilliant the ideas, writing, or how elaborate the tables and charts. Its value is the decisions it leads to.

That means, of course, that to make a plan worth the effort of developing it, you'll want to follow it up. Whether that's every month or every quarter, you need to track results, analyze the difference between plan and actual results, and manage. Change things that need to be changed. Compare what you planned to what happened in reality. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What went wrong, and how can we fix it?
  • What went right, and how can we take advantage of it?
  • What changes took place in the competitive landscape that could be updated in the plan?
  • What changes took place affecting our market that could be updated in the plan?
  • What changes took place internally in our organization that could be updated in the plan?

After you've answered these questions, update your plan accordingly, set new budgets and milestones, adjust your financials, and repeat the process with another review of your plan again next month or next quarter. Update your plan accordingly again, and keep repeating. You'll find that maintaining your business plan gives you a better grasp on your business, your market, and everything else that happens with your company.


Strategic Business Planning - Don't Plan to Fail By Failing to Plan

Strategic Business Planning - Don't Plan to Fail By Failing to Plan

By Brian James

Developing a Strategic business plan is a crucial element in determining your ongoing business success. You can maximise business growth and minimise risk through effective strategic and contingency business planning. Plans do not have to be set in concrete. On the contrary, flexible business planning and goal setting is an essential part of business development and ongoing success.

Sharing our plans with business associates and staff is extremely powerful. We need to demonstrate that we are operating our businesses, however large or small, with accountability and fair prudence. Effective business planning should not just be for funding purposes or satisfying our bank manager. It should be the bedrock of successful business management. A workable and communicated plan becomes a statement of intent. It is a shared vision that the whole business, the staff and associates, are able to support.

What to include in your business plan:

Strategically, it needs to project the goals and aspirations of the owners. These need to be converted to progressive action steps that ultimately lead to the fulfilment of your objectives.

Ambitious plans create financial independence for business owners, inspire confidence in associates, empower staff and create lasting customer value. Your plan will provide the guidance you need to steer the appropriate course. Your plan can take full account of risk factors such as competitive forces and changing market conditions. Your plan needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. You are able to create a blueprint for achievement that you can action immediately, to make your business goals come true.

Start with an open mind to the true potential of your business. Every business has the inherent capability of producing outstanding profitability and astonishing results for customers. Think big. Imagine what you would strive to achieve if you knew you couldn’t fail. Develop the mindset that nothing is totally impossible. Sometimes there are only unrealistic timescales.

Match and track your activities to your objectives on a daily basis. Work with passion and a laser-like focus with persistency and consistency. Success thinkers and achievers are great visionaries. We can all be visionary by working in our areas of true passion.

These are some of the key elements of a strategic plan:

• Setting SMART goals and objectives
• Determining key financial & statistical information
• Planning an exit route
• Profiling your customer base
• Marketing your proposition effectively
• Examining key business functions
• Developing your organisational structure
• Defining your review process

If you require assistance with the development of your strategic plan, I will happily provide my guides free of charge. Please confirm whether you require personal goal setting, business planning or both to

Just one final thought. Don’t be fooled into thinking that there is no need to plan for your business success or any other endeavour in life. Just ask any champion.

Brian James Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Brian James has been working in the corporate marketplace for 25 years as a marketing and business development professional. He is a published author and creator of the breakthrough TripleM marketing methodology. He is an associate member of the Institute of Business Advisers, a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Vice President and Fellow of the Institution of British Engineers. He specialises in Strategic Marketing.

Brian has worked with blue-chip and medium sized companies across sectors as diverse as manufacturing, retail, telecoms, financial services and pharmaceutical. Some of the larger organisations he has worked with include the Prudential Group and British Telecom.

He currently operates as Chairman of the Brian James Group a business advisory Group for owner managed businesses - Offering specialist advice in all areas of business management and academy membership programmes that provide ongoing regular coaching and mentoring support in person, over the phone and through distance learning.

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A Few Cool Helpful Notes

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