Business Planning Thoughts and Tools, Part 2

Posted on 8/18/2016 by Steve Paddock

PART 2

BUSINESS PLANNING

Some Thoughts and Tools to Help You Plan for Your Business

 

 

WHY PLAN?

Here are five key reasons that businesses typically engage in planning efforts:

  • Map the future
  • Support growth and secure funding
  • Develop and communicate a course of action
  • Help manage cash flow
  • Support a strategic exit

… or as many business owners eloquently express it: So I can sleep at night.

DEVELOPING A PLAN

Get Your Business Model Right

Whether your business stage is startup, growth, or maturity, you must ensure that your business model is right.  Great ideas and potential can fail, without the right business model to move them forward.  Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, and Value Proposition Design and Customer Discovery, are three trendy and tested business development tools that can help you take stock of where you are and effectively plan strategies and tactics to reach your goals. Each of these can be adapted for business at any stage or any size. 

Write It Down

Once you have your idea flowing, get it down on “paper.”  Find or create an outline for your plan.  Here are a few that you can review to find the one that may fit your business and your style:

VtSBDC Business Plan Guidelines

Microsoft Simple Business Plan Outline

SCORE Startup Business Plan

Small Business Administration (SBA) Online Business Plan writing tool

University of Minnesota Rural Business Owners online tool

If you don’t need a full business plan, take a look at Growth Tools or the One-Page Strategic Plan to see if then might fit your need.

Start simple.  Don’t try to write a finished document from the start.  Use bullet points to get your ideas down, then add depth and polish to the extent that fits your need for the plan.  If it’s just for your in-house use, you may not need extensive formatting and style features.  Make the plan that is right for you and your use.

Share It

Get it out to others for ideas and feedback.  The Vermont Small Business Development Center, SCORE, and the Vermont Center for Women and Enterprise are some of the resources available to help you develop and implement a plan for your business.  If you would like a little more help to get started, give one of us a call to discuss how we could help you.

THERE IS MUCH MORE (OR LESS!) THAN A FULL BUSINESS PLAN

You may be interested in a full, comprehensive business plan.  Many businesses use segments such as a marketing plan, promotion plan, human resource plan, operations plan, financial plan, customer loyalty plan, and so on to address their needs.  Think about an area in your business that you want to improve or expand.  You can create a smaller plan for just that target area, without undertaking a full plan for your entire business.

WHY PLAN?

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.               Dwight D. Eisenhower

The process of planning takes you into both the creative and practical areas of your role as business owner.  Often, business owners tell us they benefit as much from the process of planning as they do from having the finished plan document.  Plans become outdated as changes occur in the business, the market, and the business environment.  The process of planning enhances the ability of owners to respond to those changes as they occur, to ensure that their business strategies do not become outdated.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Here are a few links to further resources that can help you grow and develop your business to help meet your goals:

Vermont Small Business Development Center Resource List

Small Business Administration VT office

Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development

SCORE

Vermont Business Resource Guide PDF

Steve Paddock is the Area Business Advisor for the Vermont Small Business Development Center.