Six steps to effective business planning

17th July 2017

How much time do you spend working in your business, doing the day to day operational work involved in producing, delivering, or selling your product or services?

If the answer is “All of it”, that’s a problem. As a business owner, the most efficient and effective use of your time comes from focusing your attention on planning, tracking, and managing results that improve and expand the way your business functions.

In the latest edition of our magazine, The Bottom Line, I outline the importance of putting time aside to develop and update your business plan on a regular basis. Here’s a taster of some of the key steps to business planning which will help you monitor progress and guide the future direction of your business:

Step 1 - What is the purpose?

Consider what you want to achieve from the planning process. Whether you want to steer your business in a new direction or save money in a particular area, it’s important to take stock of where you are now and where you want the business to be.

Step 2 - Taking stock

The next step is to evaluate how your business is performing. This means having robust reporting in place, including making the most of accounting software, so that any decisions are based on sound financial information.

Step 3 - Taking an outward look

Make time to fully consider external factors that might affect your business. Identify any key changes or developments on the horizon, such as the impact of Brexit, developments in technology or potential changes in demand, and plan ahead so you are prepared.

Step 4 - Putting plans into action

Armed with this information, select the priorities for one, three and five years so you have short and long-term goals. Against each priority:

• List all the actions needed to achieve the right results

• Identify the resources you will need, including staffing and finances, and allocate a lead person to take each action forward

• Set realistic timescales and identify how you are going to measure success

Step 5 - Communicate

Share key elements of your business plan with your staff and key stakeholders so that everyone is aware of the direction of the business and are all working towards the same goals.

Step 6- Monitor, manage and maintain

Ensure you monitor progress on a regular basis and use it to drive the actions forward. Set time in the diary for a business plan review at least once a year.

To read the full article, including what to include when writing a business plan to help secure funding, view the Summer edition of The Bottom Line.

For advice on any aspect of business planning, whether you are starting up, looking to gain funding, or wanting to grow your business, please get in touch with me or Jason Hydon to find out how we can help.