?Ok most of us have heard this statement, possibly even have it on a poster on the wall or even used it within internal training sessions to your staff. But I find this one of the most ignored business statements there is. You would be surprised how many businesses start without a business plan written down in an organised form, covering all of the business issues. The truth is, had many of these businesses took the time to do this; chances are many may never have been started in the first place. Take for example marketing. A business owner might in his head know what he wants to sell and how much he is going to sell if for, but never once considers it would take money to promote or market his services or product. A structured business plan would have shown this. Take banking charges, seasonality or products, Christmas time when businesses shut down, holiday time when potential customers are away on holiday are all factors that should be written into a structured business plan. When the question is asked the answer nearly always is, "I do have a business plan, it's just not written down but in my head". When you consider every function that is a business function it is hard to believe that anyone could keep all that information neatly within one's mind. There are a group of businesses that are even worse than that. Those that have spent valuable time putting together a master business plan just to have it in a drawer or on a shelf never to be seen or used. Why waste all that valuable time for no return? A business plan should be drafted as a working document, should contain every function to the business and must be set up in a way to be flexible to changes. It should be a working document in that it can be transported for others to see, is in easy understandable language; contain everything about your business so surprises are limited. And as it is extremely unlikely that everything will go to plan, you should allow flexibility within your figures. Then within your business plan, diarise to review this business plan every so often depending on the nature of the business. If it does better than expected adjust the plan to suit, if it is not so well, again adjust your new plan to suit. A business plan allows you to control your business rather than business controlling you. When you consider the planning that goes into the family holiday for 2 weeks, it is sometime astonishing of how little planning goes into something that could mean the lifeline to the business owner, its staff and everyone connected to it.
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