Business planning in Australia should be a straight forward and practical exercise. Although you need to aware of many potential traps, there is no reason why you can’t write down the heart and soul of your business plan on one sheet of paper.
Preparing a business plan is basically deciding ‘what’ you are going to do and ‘how’ you are going to do it.
One of the main problems with business planning is that new starters follow other people’s templates. They focus on rigidly following the format of the template. This means filling in text and diagram boxes. There is no light and shade and no emphasis on the critical stuff.
Instead of producing a 300-page document that is so detailed that you’ll never read it, distil the important parts down onto a 1-page action plan.
The important stuff is this:
- The ‘what’ – your main goals
- The ‘how’ – your main strategy
- The ‘payoff’ – the all important results
Now let’s look at each in a little more detail.
1. Start with your main goals
The most important feature of your plan is your goal setting. Although dreaming up a few goals sounds easy, this is the part of business planning that most people struggle with.
I will show you in my next post how to go about setting goals. In the end, regardless of what others say, your goals are yours. You must live your truth in business and your goals must reflect that.
2. Be clear on your main strategy
In order to be clear on the ‘how’ of achieving your desired results you must have a good understanding of your customers and their demand. For example, why will they buy? What problem are you solving? Why buy from you instead of any one of fifty other look-a-likes?
Make sure this ‘how’ part of your plan is ALL ACTION. Any procrastination in executing strategy is deadly. I recommend that you decide this! “Out of all the actions I could be doing, which ones will give the highest payoff (i.e. better results sooner)?” Do those actions!
Business cards, brochures and static websites are tools, not strategies and in isolation, won’t work. Customers won’t go out of their way to seek you out. You must act to go find them, and to put your message in front of them, clearly and simply.
3. Finish with the pay-off
The pay-off is what keeps you in business! So it is important to monitor it.
You must have a measurement system to know if the pay-off is actually achieving your goals within your desired time frame. However, what you specifically track and measure depends entirely on the type of business you have.
Some people track calls and sales appointments; others track weekly sales and gross profit. Some people track units produced and fault rates; others track online click rates. Many old-timers still track cash at bank – the only figure that they trust.
Your one-page action plan
The beauty of a one-page action plan is that you can carry a copy with you, pin a copy on the wall in front of your desk, circulate it easily to employees and outsourcers or fax a copy with your monthly results to your business banking consultant.
Until next time!