Propelling a business to success requires more than just business skills. It requires time, investment, market research, and a strategic business plan. There are so many roadblocks on this journey of success. Business leaders must have insight into market trends, consumer patterns, financial forecasts, domestic and international economic conditions, and other variables to efficiently allocate resources and achieve business goals and objectives. A strategic business plan is essential to operate a company with a clear understanding of its customers, its internal strengths, its competitive environment, and a vision of how it will evolve to compete in the future. By expending the effort to develop a comprehensive business plan, you will have a powerful tool for attracting investors. The business plan is the roadmap for your company. It clearly states where the company, how it got there, and how you plan to proceed. Every business plan is unique- it doesn’t necessarily follow a set template, rather it is customisable to the needs of your company.
The difference between a business growth plan and business development strategy:
Although used interchangeably, business growth strategy and business development strategy vary in different ways. A growth strategy addresses how your company is going to evolve to meet the challenges of the future. Business growth plans are short-term outlines for where a company sees itself in the next one to two years. The growth plan should be formatted to follow along with each quarter. At the end of each quarter, the company can review what goals were met and what goals were missed during that period. Business development is the process that is used to identify, nurture and acquire new clients and business opportunities to drive growth and profitability. A business development strategy is a document that describes the strategy you will use to accomplish that goal.
A business plan must encapsulate growth and development strategies to meet certain key targets and manage business priorities. The business plan must include marketing aims and objectives, operational information (such as where your business is based, who your suppliers are and the premises and equipment needed), financial information (including profit and loss forecasts, cash flow forecasts, sales forecasts and audited accounts), a summary of the business objectives (including targets and dates), and an exit plan (if its an owner-managed business). The most successful business plans take shape gradually, initiated after a series of competitive intelligence, market research and qualitative analysis benchmarks where your organization is now versus where it can go.
Steps to develop a business plan:
- Begin with market research & competitive analysis– Market research reveals various angles to your organization’s current strengths, weaknesses and risk categories. It also compares your operations and structures to competitors in your industry, providing authoritative and data-backed analyses to benchmark capacities. Without conducting any prior competitive intelligence, the strategic plans have no roadmap designating where your business currently operates and where it strives to go. A solid understanding of the competitive landscape in your industry is critical to realise your market position. Competitive analysis will give you a crystal-clear on what the competition is offering so you know how to differentiate your product to appeal to your customers.
- Select a business strategy framework– Business strategy frameworks help document the perceived value you provide your customers. It details how your company delivers that value- cataloguing the products, policies, procedures, personnel and more that make up the anatomy of company operations. Some of the commonly implemented strategic planning frameworks are Transformational business modelling, SWOT analysis, Porter’s five forces, PESTLE model, and Balanced scorecard methodology.
- Performance evaluation and assessment– Companies must ensure that they can measure their goals with relevant, meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the health of the business. The result of these metrics should give you a strong indication of how effective your business development efforts are. Performance measurements for a strategic plan should be- valid and verifiable, measure a specific value or business unit, inspire desired employee outcomes or behaviours, aggregate simply and intuitively, unburden employees from undue manual data collection practices, and most importantly answer specific and strategic questions guiding decision-makers toward improved business plans.
The best practices you should implement for a successful business plan:
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals– SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. The goal must pertain to a single topic, domain or interest. To make your goal attainable, ensure everyone on your team understands who is responsible for this goal. This goal is relevant because it will help your company grow, and likely contributes to larger company-wide goals. To make it time-based, organisations must set a timeline for success and action.
- Conduct SWOT analysis– SWOT is a strategic planning technique used to identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Organisations can use SWOT analysis to make the most of what they have got, to the organization’s best advantage. It reduces the chances of failure, by understanding what the company is lacking, and eliminating hazards that would otherwise catch your business unawares.
- Determine the KPIs to measure success– KPI reviews are an ongoing endeavour. Regular performance data reviews empower organisations to refine initiatives they initially forecasted to contribute to an objective’s completion, but are proving to underperform. The earlier organizations spot these data discrepancies, the sooner they can take steps to put the strategic plan timeline back on track. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) for business development include- company growth, revenue, lead conversion rate, leads generated per month, client satisfaction, pipeline value.
- Review budgets– Budget forecasting must run tangential to strategic planning. In particular, the planning team must begin to consider current versus prospective resource allocation, given the priorities outlined in the S.M.A.R.T. objectives. It is critical to track current budget requirements, trends and spend, strengths and weaknesses to inform better resource allocation along with the plan’s three- to five year timetable. Reviewing financial allotments during annual and even quarterly budgeting cycles may not cut it when it comes to intelligent business planning.
Once you’ve drawn up your new business plan and put it into practice, it needs to be continually monitored to make sure the objectives are being achieved. This review process should follow an assessment of your progress to date and an analysis of the most promising ways to develop your business.