HomeLockedKey ingredients of a great business plan

Key ingredients of a great business plan

Although the current economic climate may not be seem conducive to starting a business, it remains true that one of the biggest causes of failure for any Australian venture is poor planning.

A business plan is absolutely essential for any company – large or small – because it helps you identify where you want your company to move and how you are going to get there.

Without clearly defined goals and a plan to achieve them, your efforts will be disconnected and your business won’t have a solid goal to move towards. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do without. Your business plan is a written description of its future and should detail your strategy for achieving your goals.

Putting the Plan Together

The first thing you need to establish is just what you intend to accomplish with your business. Ask yourself where you would like the company to be in five years’ time. Do you want to have expanded to a national level or even have an army of staff operating out of a network of international offices?

Think clearly about your goals and keep focused on them. If you want a stable customer base without expanding to new offices, that’s fine – for some, simplicity is more desirable than growth. Think about how many staff you’ll have, what jobs you’ll delegate and what percentage of the market you’re hoping to capture.

Answer these questions and you’re ready to start working on your plan because these key points will help you produce a scalable, workable strategy. The Government’s business website has a useful guide and templates to help.

Structure it logically

Business plan structures usually incorporate an executive summary, an introduction, marketing analysis, marketing plan, operational plan, management strategy and financial statements including future projections. You can vary this structure, but make sure it includes a comprehensive overview of business.

Target your plan to the right audience

Are you creating a plan to show to potential investors or is it an internal document designed to maintain a focus through day-to-day operation? If you’re looking for investors, your unique selling point and market analysis could be especially important.

Financing

Organising your finances is a crucial element of your business plan. How much do you need to get started? Don’t assume that your sales revenue will cover your growth costs. There are options for raising investment: venture capitalists, angel investors and bankers.

Venture capitalists can offer better fees in return for some level of control over the business. On the other hand, the bank is primarily concerned with your ability to make payments and will leave the rest up to you.

Hiring staff

Your start-up talent can be critical. If you can attract professional, experienced and dedicated staff, you are likely to have a more successful company. Your business plan can help attract these people with clearly defined business goals, advancement opportunities and an attractive work environment.

Marketing mix

Defining your target market, strategies to reach them and the results you expect to achieve are essential ingredients for your business plan. Ensure you cover both online and offline solutions related to your industry.

SWOT analysis

Looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as part of your business plan will help you gain an overview of both the factors impacting your business. You can capitalise on your strengths, improve on your weaknesses, pounce on opportunities and handle threats as long as you identify and remain mindful of them.

Greg Butler
Greg Butler is a Communications Advisor with Commercial Insurance at Suncorp. He has a long history in the advertising industry, heading the creative departments of local and international agencies, including Clemenger, AdPartners and Leo Burnett. He is experienced in insurance and financial services having worked on accounts including AMP, Standard & Chartered Bank, AGC/Westpac and Sun Alliance.