What a good business plan looks like …
Of course, there is no definitive answer to what a good business plan looks like, and it’s important you tailor this to your own design, but by way of an illustration, the diagram below sets out the key elements of a comprehensive business plan:
Later on in this blog series, I am going to cover some of the key sections of this illustrative plan. My intent, however, is only to do so at a high-level. There are many excellent books focused on the topic of business planning – and these articles are not seeking to replace them. Also, there is a risk this all becomes too prescriptive. My aim, rather, is for you to finish reading this series knowing how fundamental a plan is to your wealth-creation ambition and having a sense of the aspects to consider within such a planning exercise. Only you can then determine its actual structure, contents and the rigour you apply in its completion.
I should also say that getting this right from the start is critically important. If you are in pre start-up mode, do not convince yourself to leave all this for later; your time for such activity will only become increasingly sparse. Conversely, if you invest in quality thinking and planning up front, it will pay real dividends downstream. All subsequent reversions of your plan will then have a quality document as their starting, reference point – and you will soon, with a few refresh iterations, have embedded a key discipline within your business.
Developing a good business plan is assuming a number of core skills – from strategic analysis, marketing awareness, financial fluency etc. No one is going to be an expert in all of these fields; indeed, one of the positive features of running your own company is the intense learning it encourages. Every day can feel like another day at the bottom of a steep climb. That all said, you will do well to enter this process with a working understanding of the fundamental areas.
If you are coming at this completely cold, start reading into entry- level business strategy and the fundamentals of finance. Make sure you have working knowledge of an office software tool suite (word processor, presentation etc); most importantly for your plan – get very familiar with a spreadsheet application!
If you are interested in re-charging your business ambition/strategy/plans, Dom runs his (three-day) Five-Year Entrepreneur Retreat twice a year (March, September) – see here for feedback on a previous event. If you would like to make a reservation (capped to 14 attendees per Retreat) please drop a line via the contact page.