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Developing or revising a business plan

Developing or revising a business plan

When you first started your business, you probably jotted down a few points about how to run it, but did you ever really put together a thorough plan? Even if you did, has your business changed in the meantime? Operating your business without a solid plan in place can be a bit like trying to run a marathon in the dark – you won’t see the obstacles ahead until you fall over them. We go over some important considerations when getting your business plan complete and up to date.

Study your market

Whether you’re a plumber, accountant or bricklayer, you will want to research your industry and market first. Competitors can be used as a guide for how to price your products or services, and where to locate your business. They can also help to identify gaps in the market that you could fill. If you plan to position yourself as an alternative, these points of difference should be the primary focus of your marketing plan.

Create a vision

Once you’ve taken your market snapshot, ask yourself where you see your business going in the next 12 months to three years. This is a good opportunity to brainstorm ideas with your team. These high-level planning activities can be used to create an executive summary describing the overall purpose and direction of the business.

Develop goals and assess risks

Next it’s time to set some tangible business goals and timeframes in which you’d like to achieve them. If you are reviewing an existing plan, this is your chance to check your progress against existing goals and decide whether they should be revised or removed.

Think about the challenges you may encounter along the way and strategies to overcome or avoid them. For example, you could take out insurance to protect the business against equipment failure, keep a list of secondary suppliers and service partners, and create a hiring plan that attracts the best candidates.

Plan your finances

You can start by outlining how much money you would like to make over a particular timeframe. How much cash will you need at the start? Will you need a loan? What is your break-even point, and how many sales will you need to make each month to turn a profit? An accountant can help you answer these questions.

Many small businesses fail due to poor cash flow, so keeping on top of the business’s finances is absolutely critical. This is often the result of bad debts, so make sure payment terms are professionally drafted and legally binding.

A business plan will never be 100 per cent complete. Think of it as a living document that you will continue to develop as your business grows and changes, and set a schedule to review it regularly. To help get you started, a business plan template and business plan guide are available from business.gov.au.

Whether you’re just getting started or reviewing your business plan, realistic goals can help you stay on track. Learn the ins and outs of creating a roadmap to success for your business.

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