Implementing a Business Plan
Writing a business plan is actually quite a daunting prospect. Most start-ups don’t know where they will be in one month’s time, let alone five years. Many business plans are unrealistic, as people dream of setting up the next “unicorn”. The concept of having a solid business that makes money and is sustainable seems to be lost. However, even the most realistic well-thought-out business plan is just a stack of paper, if it isn’t implemented. So how do you implement a business plan?
The Business Plan has to be realistic
First and foremost you have to go back to the beginning. Is your business plan realistic and does it have clear goals, objectives and aims that suit your aspirations. Do not get sucked into following the mass opinion of what your plan should be like. Your business plan should contain a clear outline of the following (please note that this list isn’t exhaustive):-
– What is your business proposition (i.e. what is your product/service, who are your clients, who is the competition and how are you going to sell your product/service)
– Who is your management team i.e. Directors, key personnel and any strategic partners/alliances you may have
– Marketing – including market research, pricing and how you are going to promote your product/service
– Staff – who do you need to employ and your organisational structure
– Operations – Office Premises, Infrastructure needed i.e. IT, website, telecoms etc.
– Infrastructure – What is your trading entity, insurance needed, lawyer and accountants you will be using
– Finances – Profit & Loss forecasts, cash flow, any finance needed and investment opportunities
Set out your objectives
Once you have your business plan you should set out your objectives, for example, in the recruitment industry, some of your objectives could include the following :-
– Secure office space, set up the company/infrastructure and start trading within 3 months
– Secure your first deal within 2 months of trading
– Make 1 business deal every month from there on for the 1st year
Set tasks to reach your objectives
Once you have set out your objectives, what tasks need to be completed so you can achieve these? Assign a person who is responsible for each step, so that roles are clearly defined and there is accountability in completing the task and what the budget is. Don’t micromanage people with detailed explanations of how to complete each task. Some generic examples of this could be:-
– Setting up an established company – You
– Finding an office – Office Manager
– Setting up internet, phones and computers – Office Manager
– Marketing collateral – Marketing Manager
– Recruitment – HR Manager
– Securing new clients and business – Business Development Manager
– Opening company bank account – You
– Social media management – Marketing Manager
Each task should be paired with an appropriate time frame for completion. You should be aggressive, but reasonable with your time allocation in order to ensure, not just completion but competent work as well. For assistance in framing this timescale. Create your own Gantt chart – a helpful tool that shows how long it will take to complete different tasks and in what order the tasks should be finished.
Progress and Review
You or a member of your management team needs to be in charge of monitoring each task’s progress and the completion percentage of each objective. When delays occur, try to get to the root of the problem. Did the person responsible drop the ball? Did he or she have too many responsibilities to handle? Did a third party, such as a supplier or the bank, fail to hold up its end of a deal? While the above steps may seem like overkill, the early days of a start-up are critically important; it’s a time when good management patterns are set and also probably a lean era when revenue has yet to start rolling in. The more efficiently you start implementing your business plan, the more likely it is that you will survive this early period.
Keep a tab on your Finances
Keep reviewing your finances. Are you hitting your targets? If not, why not and implement changes to tackle this. Have a regular review with your accountant to manage income, costs and any tax liabilities. It’s so important to keep disciplined, focused and motivated by cash flow, even more so in the early stages of your business.
Join a Trade Association or Networking Group
Business plans are always dynamic. Make sure you join a networking group so you can keep up to date with on the ground market knowledge, connections and legal/financial updates. You may need to react and change accordingly. Don’t get totally blinkered by your business plan – you must always keep an eye on what is going on around you.
Regularly review your business plan
Review your business plan on a regular basis. Compare budgeted numbers to actual figures of doing business. Determine whether you can keep operating as you are, of if you need to make changes, such as reducing costs, raising prices or increasing marketing.
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