A business plan is like a road map: as your business takes new pathways you need to recognise the milestones along the way and take a reliable route to the planned destination.
This map is especially important when you are in unfamiliar territory – when you take your business to new markets, develop new products or services, or your market changes.
The business plan is the most important document you will ever prepare for your business. It describes all aspects of your business venture: from what services or products you intend to deliver, how you intend to deliver them, through to financing and marketing strategies.
For a business to be truly successful, it needs to demonstrate sustained success over time. To be sustainable and remain profitable in the long term means a business must take account of the social and environmental impacts of its activities.
Your business plan represents the final product of all your reflection, market research and planning. In essence it is your map for business success – it identifies clearly where you are now, where you are going, and how you plan to get there.
To succeed in small business you need more than money and dreams - your business also requires careful planning and committed follow-up. It is important that you plan carefully before launching or expanding a business.
Once you are established in business it is equally important to update your business plan at least once a year and or when a significant change occurs in your marketplace. This means that the business plan will never be complete, but it should be the best current version of how you perceive the reality of your business in the marketplace.
Whatever the reason, state clearly why the business plan is being written. It needs to communicate what you intend to do.
There are two:
Set aside time when you will not be interrupted or distracted by other activities. Commence by updating your records and organising your available material, as this will save you time and effort later.
Also consider defining some basic vales such as business ethics and integrity, staff, customers and the community, the environment and the use of material and energy resources.
Be prepared to consider various alternative views as you work through the plan, ranging from optimistic expectations to ‘worst case’ scenarios. Such alternative viewpoints will help you to identify both the opportunities and the risks or unexpected crises that are an inevitable part of running a business.
Remember that your business plan should be a call to action, a living document, not simply an exercise you go through to satisfy bankers or investors and file away to be forgotten. The time and effort you put in to your plan makes it a tool for you and your staff to keep your business on track for success. Use it.
Much of that written above comes from the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise publication ‘Planning for success’, a do-it-yourself kit for developing your own business plan. This publication is readable, practical and encourages you to build your own business plan as you work through the text. Included with the kit is a set of do-it-yourself templates linked to the text. The kit now in its sixth edition has been compiled - and revised with new material being added - by an experienced team of small business advisors, all of whom have had hands-on experience of managing small businesses. The many handy hints and survival tips reflect the collective business expertise of the writers.
At www.business.govt.nz there is a comprehensive suite of free resources, tools and information to help people start, manage and grow their business. Amongst other things:
Governance & disclosure documents for Northland Inc
We want you to use the Northland brand! It's proud and aspirational, just like Northlanders, and it's here to be used.
Tools for Northland tourism operators, including the monthly tourism update, marketing opportunities, and visitor statistics.
Documents such as Tai Tokerau Maori Growth Strategy for the Tai Tokerau Maori Economy.
Tools here are designed to provide the best launch pad for your business start-up
The dynamic collection of tools, templates and resources designed to help you through different phases of business growth.
A collection of tools, templates and links designed to work alongside of you as part of your innovation pathway.
Initial Project Assessment, and Investment Proposal forms, and other documents for download.