Keep your business plan short and simple or it may end up in the bin.
We are all familiar with the 100-page business plan that gets produced and never read. There is a solution though - the one-page business plan.
If you cannot summarise the key issues and strategies of a business plan on a single page, then chances are the plan is too complicated to work effectively. The key components of a one-page business plan are:
The 'now' position: key points that capture the essence of where the business is now. This may include employee numbers, annual turnover, what the business does, its core market segments, customers and competitors.
Where the business wants to go: a summary of where the business should be at some point in the future. This may cover desired turnover, staff levels, new customers or potential markets, together with more strategic targets.
How to get there: the key strategic issues that will enable the business to progress to where it wants to be, such as marketing issues, funding growth, staff training and new product or service development.
Action plans: specific actions in the short-term. It is better to have five or six things to do - and get them done - than have a list of 20 and only do a few. As action items are completed, the plan should be updated with a new set of action items. It is a continuous improvement process.
The advantage of such an approach is that most people will be able to read and digest a one-page plan. It can then become a focus for board and management meetings. If a topic under discussion at these meetings is not on the plan, either the plan needs to be updated or valuable management time is being wasted on something that is not strategically important.
Margaret Bowler is director of strategic planning at Kidsons Impey
0171 405 2088.