Business Planning Stages

I spent several enjoyable man-days earlier in the year helping construct a business plan. I’ve written a number of these during my career, as well as also being commissioned to craft specific sales plans for salesteams seeking to take a new direction.

My recent work introduced me to many people whom mainly spend their days reading business plans, predominantly to assess funding worthiness.

Two main factors are prominent in determining future success, aside from the traits of the plan and those involved.

First, they want to see appropriate resource committed upfront. This extends to both its calibre and true financial clout. For instance I’ve blogged before about funders seeking demonstration for 5% of total project spend to be utilised in the planning phases (a “scoping budget“).

The second factor looks at the overall planning approach. The business plan itself I see is best visualised as part of a three-stage process:

  1. Confirmation of Feasibility
  2. Preparation for Implementation
  3. Implementation

This is a structure within which the written plan itself forms part of the first task. It is the second element, Preparation for Implementation, new to me, that I’ve found intriguing. For most such projects, the business plan is the be-all and end-all. Yet a business plan is neither a full-blown ‘Ops Manual’ nor documents full compliance and support from key third-party and other stakeholders.

If you think about it, surely in just about any new business endeavour there will be a gap between business plan sign-off (regardless of whether funders need to stump up or an entrepreneur needs to feel satisfied) and the big Day One ‘go’. Many new ventures I’m sure will attempt concurrent completion of the tasks required in this category alongside actually running their new business (the Implementation) yet the stage exists in its own right.

A number of examples of the types of activities to look out for emerged from my particular project. I’ve learned that acknowledgement of them sets you apart in front of anyone from whom you seek vindication.

  • individual functional responsibilities & reporting mechanisms
  • contracts in place, both from clients & forward ordering of supplies
  • formulise funder relationship and arrange drawdown procedures

One final point, is that these activities are estimated to take half as much time and money as physical business plan construction, so you could argue that equates to 2½% of overall project budgets too.

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