Do You Need A Business Plan?

Many companies have already ditched the traditional Business Plan in favour of a more adaptable working document. Indeed, unless required for a bank loan, the pretence of forecasting sales based on historic data is dead and buried.

In any business, there are still goals, of course, but a business that has the flexibility to modify the paths towards those goals – and sometimes, the goals themselves – has a better chance of succeeding.

So what has changed? Well, first of all, it’s not an entirely new idea. Smaller, successful, independent businesses have been working along these lines for over twenty years.

1. The Business Idea
How viable is your business idea? First of all, it is much easier to research your market these days, thus validating your business idea. Forecasting remains a useful element that can be adjusted as necessary. Many software companies that were technician-led used the If-Then-Else principle in forecasting, possibly contributing towards their success.

2. Development and Testing
As you build your product or service, knowing how quickly to react to changes in the market is vital. Testing the market as well as testing the product offering may require adaptations prior to launch, as well as afterwards. In most cases, get the minimum viable product or service to market as soon as possible so that it helps feed the next generation of development.

3. Financials and Funding
The product isn’t the only thing that has to be viable. You need to create a sound financial platform, including any funding, which has to carry you through the development phase. To hit the ground running on day one requires a budget for marketing (see step 4) as well as people, overheads and manufacturing well into the product’s future. A business mentor can help secure funding for start-ups and growth.

4. Launch Strategy
Each business, each market sector, will have specific requirements but a general guideline will include an appropriate website or e-commerce site, fully optimised for search engines. To “spread the word” around the internet, social media may be implemented (e.g. Twitter, YouTube and others) and quality links from established sites would be of significant use. Other than internet reach, direct contact via telephone, email and personal meetings on all levels (clients, distributors, journalists) could be suitable in your targeted industry.

5. Growth Plan
Operations and growth need to be managed. It sounds obvious but a surprising number of businesses – start-ups and established – can flounder during spells or rapid growth. The ‘boss’ takes his or her eye off the ball because they are too busy. Plans to scale the business need to have the flexibility to adapt to the pace of growth.

It’s still a business plan but one that works for today’s technology-driven fast-paced entrepreneurs.

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