The business plan is really important to give your company focus and direction. It is very easy to get sidetracked by the different facets of your business, whether it is e-commerce, social media, partnerships, new equipment, new premises, customer acquisition – the list goes on. All these parts make up the whole, but the whole is sometimes the one that needs a good review and some serious planning.
All businesses need a business plan. If you have one great. If not, don’t worry you’re in the majority as most businesses sadly don’t have one. When you started maybe you set out a one-year, three-year or perhaps a five-year plan, looking ahead to what you hoped would be the ideal place come that time. The destinations and plans will of course change, but as long as these changes are considered and accounted for then all good.
It’s sensible and essential to review and re-evaluate the business plan at least annually… Don’t put it off!
So how do you structure a business plan?
Company overview: A snap shot of what you are all about. Your mission, vision, values, products, unique attributes.
Business environment: An analysis of your marketplace, customers, competition and how you compare. Many photographers aspire to be like a well-known photographer in their area and the astute photographers know exactly who they are competing against. Without this knowledge how can you compete and set your stall out against them?
Company description: How are you set up, how do you operate, what are your USPs which set you apart from your competitors? This maybe be your approach, equipment, service, turnaround, marketing, cost, quality, etc.
Company strategy: Your roadmap to the future, your growth plans, your marketing plan, and even your exit strategy. Conduct a S.W.O.T. and analysis of your business. What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? Put them into a grid format so it’s easy to visualise.
Financial review: How is the business performing? After all for many this is really what counts as it helps pay the bills and dictates your quality of life. Annual accounts can easily clarify profits, costs and revenues. There’s no hiding place. How are they tracking versus previous years? Plot the figures on a graph so they are easy to visualise, project forwards.
Action plan: Steps you’ll take to implement your business plan to meet your goals and objectives. What do you need to do to hit these future goals and objectives?
Review: It’s sensible and essential to review and re-evaluate the business plan at least annually, say every December/January when it might be a quiet time for you. Reset those one, three and five year goals and set a calendar reminder to set time aside to review the business plan annually.
No matter how busy you may think you are, don’t put off writing a business plan. The real hard effort will be constructing it in the first instance and then reviewing it annually becomes less arduous. Remember, to fail to pan is to plan to fail!