A New Twist on the Business Plan

At the beginning of every business venture is a plan. You may not recognise it as a formal plan but, even in your head, there is a Start (where you are now) and a Finish (where you want to be). A few extra details need to be addressed, such as how you might get from Start to Finish.

But how much detail? To what level of detail do you need to plan?

One entrepreneur said “I modelled the forecast for my start-up business exactly on the company I worked for. The main difference was a better product at a slightly cheaper price. What could go wrong?”

He soon learned that a better product is not the only reason that a company is successful. So many excuses were offered by potential clients he had known for years; sales came, but only at a fraction of the number he expected.

Start-ups cannot base their forecasts purely on the sales of established companies. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. So how can a start-up company devise an accurate business plan?

Who is the business plan for?

Primarily, you! Obviously, we’re not talking about the traditional, documented tome that nobody ever revisits. What you need is an at-a-glance ‘road map’ so you can see the preferred path, how far you’ve come, any alternative routes, etc.

Start by making short notes of EVERYTHING related to your business then put a box around each snippet, using different colours to define whether it is a positive, an opportunity or a problem to be resolved (some snippets may remain box-less at this stage). Consider all aspects, from product or service to sales.

Now create an organised grid and transfer the key notes to it, similar to the following very simple example we created using a spreadsheet:

high-level basic business plan

To see existing Key Problems at a glance, colour the boxes ‘red’ and change the colour of the boxes to ‘gold’ when Solutions are applied

As a start-up small business, there are more worthwhile ways to spend your time than writing unusable business plans just because that’s what was expected in the 20th century. The point of a business plan is to be useful, to enable you to assess, re-think, adapt and improve based on as much information as can be determined when historic data is unavailable. A good business plan should help you identify risk as well as enable you to analyse what has worked or not as you progress – at a glance.

Let us know if you need help or advice.