Nearly every successful business has a business plan which they follow to help achieve their goals. It is crucial that these plans contain some flexibility, especially when it comes to early-stage start-ups.
A business plan is a summary of your business’s goals and how they will be attained. Plans are drawn up to attract funding, assess future growth and even build partnerships.
However, the reality is that business moves fast. Fluctuations in the market, product changes and new competitors highlight the need for your startup to have a flexible business plan, so you don’t end up causing unnecessary financial harm.
Why you need to be flexible
A business plan should be a living document on the premise that business moves fast and you’ll need to a flexible business plan that allows you to twist and turn so you can respond quickly to opportunities and challenges as they present themselves.
William Sahlman, Harvard Business School professor and author of How to Write a Great Business Plan, advises that “when you think about a business plan, think about the distinction between a snapshot and a moving picture”. What you need is something that will move with your business.
What to include in your business plan
Your business plan should clearly stipulate your businesses aim, structure and desirable outcomes. On top of that you should demonstrate a clear understanding of your market, who your customers are and any funding requirements.
It’s also important that you focus on these elements to ensure your business plan is fluid and flexible.
Detail your product or service
Start off by detailing your product or service, including what makes it stand out from competitors. It is also important to define your biggest asset, such as talent, and ensure it is prioritised in your plan.
Your progress to date
Documenting your progress to include what has and has not worked is a crucial component of any successful business plan. Start documenting from day one; note key progress milestones as well as any changes of direction that have been taken.
Steps required to achieve success
It’s also important that your business plan outlines the steps you need to take to achieve success. This will help uncover whether you have the capacity within your business to achieve the targets mentioned in your plan.
Be realistic about your forecasts and assumptions. Over-optimistic sales forecasts can lead to increased overheads, resulting in a cash-flow crisis and cost-cutting, all of which can damage company culture.
Risks and contingency plans
You can’t expect everything to go according to plan, so detailing the risks and how you will overcome them will help to keep your plan dynamic.
Revisit on a regular basis
Last but certainly not least, it’s important that you revisit your business plan on a regular basis. This is to ensure your business is staying in line with your original vision and for any updates on progress and vision.
Leaving some flexibility in a business plan can open many doors for a company or organisation. For a business plan to be truly effective, it needs to evolve with your company and stay relevant in the face of uncertainty.
Our experienced team of financial advisers can help you create a business plan to help your business thrive from inception to next level growth.