By Martin Baillie – Business Growth Specialist and ActionCOACH Bury St Edmunds
Did you know, only 2% of business owners have a plan? And even fewer stick to it.
However, the value of having a business plan is undeniable. Studies show that planning improves business performance and helps a business grow 30% faster than those that don’t.
“We found that it pays to plan. Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs.”
– Harvard Business Review, Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed. *
Also, it answers the questions of “Where are we now?” “Where do we want to be?” and “How do we get there?”* It allows business owners to focus on the critical activities that will directly grow their business, re-prioritse those that won’t, and allocate resources more efficiently. It also offers them:
- Vision, clarity, and focus for the year
- Control of the business
- Practical strategies to help get more done in the business
- Clear goals aligned with business objectives
- A roadmap to ensure attainment of the goals
- The tools to track and measure progress
- Confident decision making
- Increased likelihood of success
But despite the self-evident benefits of having a plan in place, business owners often shy away from the task, concerned about the volume of content detail and the time (whoever has enough time?) it will take to complete the document.
These are misperceptions.
There is no prescribed length or depth of the detail required – the structure of a plan can vary greatly depending on the size of the organisation, where it is in its growth cycle, and its unique strategic objectives.
For example, a new startup may only require a few short pages covering the salient action points for the next quarter. This initial high-level strategic proposal then leaves them the flexibility to rapidly amend the plan as they gain a deeper understanding of their products and customer requirements.
On the other hand, a well-established organisation with multiple product lines and targeted client profiles may require a more detailed plan, addressing each area of the business thoroughly. It could benefit even further by including sub-plans for the various departments across the company.
Regardless of how the document is structured or the name it goes by (some call it a strategic or operational plan), to make the most impact it should cover all aspects of your business from strategy, to sales, marketing, operations, and logistics.
So what should a business plan include?
At ActionCOACH, when we work with clients on their 90-day plans we look at:
- Clear SMART Goals
- Granular details of every step required to deliver the goal
- Test and measure actions surrounding the plan
- Team involvement or the team working on the plan, not just the business owner
- A growth mindset
- Frequent review
It’s important to remember, though, that commitment to your plan doesn’t mean writing it down once at the start of the year and rigidly sticking to it. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that we have to remain fluid and adaptable in our approach to business, adjusting plans when needed while remaining mindful of our overall goals.
So, if you don’t already have a business plan, start making one today to increase your chances of success.