Business Planning

Undertaking the business planning process is a task a lot of founders find lengthy. In the course of this article we will cover key questions to ask yourself and areas that should or could be included.

Who are you writing it for?

Yourself, staff knowledge, investors? If the latter what type of investors? The answer to these two questions will give you the focus and the type of documentation needed a written report with excel worksheets and / or a PowerPoint presentation.

What should go into a business plan?

This may seem like a long list, but it makes launching or running your business easier as it gives focus. It doesn’t take that long to do but will more than pay you back.

  1. Mission statement: What is the aim of your organisation for your clients, your staff, the wider community. Very often these are 30-60 words that encapsulate the essence of your organisation.
  2. Vision: A statement of where you are taking the company.
  3. Value proposition statement: What are your Unique Selling Points compared to your competitors. What is it that you are offering your clients that solves there issues, satisfies their needs.
  4. Strapline: 2 or 3 words that instantly link to your company. They appear along with your logo, or on adverts as a stand-alone. Think about these examples Every Little Helps (Tesco), Because you’re worth it (L’Oreal), Because you want results (Cut Through Marketing), Bridge to Possible (Cisco), Vorsprung durch Technik (Audi)
  5. Strategic objectives: these should be in a SMART format so that the results are measurable. Our previous blog describes how SMART goals work.
  6. SWOT: Being honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats will help you uncover the best strategies for success. To learn how to draw this up then read our earlier blog.
  7. PESTLE: External factors impacting your business now and in the future – Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, Legal, Environmental. For more details read our earlier blog.
  8. Competitor analysis: Every organisation has a competitor for the share of wallet that they are after. A detailed breakdown is found here.
  9. Buyer persona definition: What does your customer look like? How old are they? Which social group do they belong to? Male, female, non-binary? Educational level? Type of job they have. What they aspire to? Building up an idea of who your target is, what social media they use, which newspapers they read (on or offline), what their favourite TV show is and so on, all helps you build the message and where to place it.
  10. DMU definition if applicable: The Decision Making Unit is found in B2B, where the decision to spend is not just down to one individual. For the roles and how to engage them please read this blog edition.
  11. Stakeholder identification: There are groups that are external to your organisation that you need to influence and who have a vested interest in your business from your suppliers, to unions, to influencers, to local and national Government. The most complex stakeholder analysis we have seen to date had 23 different groups, but normally it is more likely to be 10-12.
  12. 8Ps of Marketing: Pricing, Product, Promotion (Communications), Place (Route to Market), Process, Physical Evidence, People, Planet. Each one of those could be their own blog and will be in the future. To achieve the best here then you may well need market research.
  13. Strategic partnerships: These are organisations with complementary skills and offerings, with whom you can work together to give a more comprehensive solution to the end customer whilst sharing marketing costs. To learn more.
  14. Expansion plans if applicable: These may be ideas for the future, or they could be more imminent . There are many ways of expanding such as using a franchising approach, adding a new product range, opening a new location, starting to export, adding a new service. This section of the business plan identifies the methods you foresee using with projected dates.
  15. Financials: Some people do not include Excel workbooks of financial projections, others do. The projections, if included, would include P&L, balance sheet, cashflow projection, when cash injections are needed and how much.
  16. HR Plan: What staff you will need, when, how much in terms of salary, employer NI, pension contribution, equipment / uniforms (if applicable). This is something that is the specialism of our sister organisation HR Vectro so please feel free to contact them on this section.

Once you have written your business plan, do not put it on a shelf and leave it there. It should be a living breathing document that is regularly reviewed and updated  as the external factors change.

If you want help with your drafting or updating your business plan or just need a section of it (often we are asked about competitor analysis as a stand alone) then get in touch. Business planning is something that we do for various organisations ranging from retail to social care homes to new B2B technology companies to multi-nationals.

[originally issued 20/5/21; edited 13/3/24]

2 thoughts on “Business Planning”

  1. Pingback: Stakeholders: Why are they important in marketing? : CutThrough.Marketing

  2. Pingback: Mission Statement : CutThrough.Marketing

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