Embarking on a new business venture or project can often be a difficult and stressful period for a business owner. This can often be made even worse due to a lack of sufficient planning to guide them through the turbulence. In my many years in business I’ve learnt than nothing is more important than planning for success (and failure, see this post here).
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from careful planning. Don’t think that just because you own a small business that you shouldn’t set aside time to plan. There are times when planning becomes essential, especially if you need to prove to a lender that your business makes financial sense from an investment point of view.
This brings us to the first aspect of successful planning which is writing specifically for the audience it was intended. If you are producing an internal plan just for yourself than it is fine to create something loose and informal because you will understand the intention. However, if your plan contains specific instructions for employees to follow then you will have to write in greater detail to avoid misunderstandings.
Don’t make assumptions when writing a plan. Instead, you should try to research things in as much detail as possible. This will involve developing a complete understanding of the marketplace in which your business operates and an in-depth knowledge of the competition.
It is essential that all of your sums add up. because anything that is incorrectly costed has potential to throw the rest of the plan completely off-track. Bad financial estimation is one of the main causes of planning failure.
When it comes to actually implementing a plan, make sure that there are specific dates for the completion of each section. This is important because it helps you to evaluate the success of the project at various different stages along the way. Remember that you are not bound in any way to the plan and if necessary you can then make changes as you go along and circumstances change.
When I talk about business planning, though, I don’t mean reams of paper that takes you hours to write; instead use good business planning software, or tools, to allow you to briefly and concisely put the necessary points down somewhere always accessible.