Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

For many business owners, the process of writing a business plan can seem overwhelming - so much so it's often one of the vital elements of commercial success that's ignored altogether! However, thanks to a new Australian innovation and the following easy 'how-to' guide, SME owners can rest easy knowing much of the angst around business plans can be easily resolved.

Whether you’re looking to secure finance or investment, or simply get more clarity around where your business is heading, there’s no substitute for a well-conceived business plan. With so much material available on the topic, from internet guides to using templates, as well as books on creating the perfect plan and expensive consultants touting their services, it’s not surprising business owners experience information overload.

This exact consumer frustration was well-known by Marcus Tarrant, business planning consultant for over two decades and creator of the Business Planning HQ Toolkit, who decided to create a solution that would give business owners the plans they desperately needed, without costing them the earth.

The first step was to address some misconceptions in the minds of business owners. "The process of business planning should start with a process and end with a document. Many clients get this the wrong way around by starting with a document, and ending with a compromised result," says Marcus.

“Instead of creating another ‘one-size-fits-all’ template, we realized a complete planning ‘process’ was necessary, but that it had to be as simple and relevant as possible,” he continues. While consultants have typically filled this role in the past, conducting meetings with clients, asking them questions and then going away to formulate a plan, the high costs involved in engaging a consultant can be prohibitive for many start-ups or smaller, growing businesses.

"Throughout my 20 years assisting hundreds of clients with their business planning process, we found that clients that most needed our services, were those least able to afford the 20-40K we would usually charge to prepare an investment grade business plan.”, says Marcus.

"Business Planning HQ was developed to provide a cost and time effective solution to the process of business planning by reducing the cost by as much as 90%, without reducing the quality. Now a business plan can be created in as little as 4-6 hours and you only need enter simple financial information - all the complex valuation and scenario analysis is performed for you. No expensive consultant required. No information overload. Just one simple process. And at a price point of just $450, the product is very accessible for all business owners.”

If you’re keen on getting more structure and clarity of direction in your operations, Marcus suggests taking 30 minutes with a coffee somewhere quiet, before you even embark on your plan, to jot down notes around the following:

  • Commit to the process of creating a plan. Many SME owners put their business plan off because they are waiting for more certainty about current partnerships, sales or events. Your plan should guide your activity, not the other way around. Without a plan your business is like a ship without a rudder, you’ll be unable to gauge success and determine what you should do first, second or not at all. This is one task you can’t do half-heartedly. Success is about focus.
  • Get clear about your business vision (your plan will then take this vision and translate it into a strategy). Your vision should outline where you want to see your business going in the medium to long term and can be expressed as a series of objectives.
  • Consider who your primary customers are, what’s important to them and where they are both geographically and in life. Get into their headspace for a while and it will help you determine what’s possible for your business’s future. After all, your business should exist to solve a consumer’s problem.
  • Consider the different types of business models that could work for your business. Just because you’re a franchise now, doesn’t mean that’s the best model moving forward – think creatively and without restriction. The creation of your plan will help you determine which is the best option for you.
  • Consider what kind of financial outcomes you’d like in your business. Be specific and realistic. Have a timeframe in mind. Without knowing your ultimate financial goals you’ll lack a key driver for your plan.
A good business plan should align your strategy, business model, proposed actions and financial implications, as well as consider the questions and problems that are top of mind with your target audience. Ultimately, a business plan should be bespoke for your operations, rather than trying to fit your business into a predetermined template.

Contact Profile

Business Planning HQ

Business Planning HQ combines two decades of experience in business planning into a series of consultant style questions. These questions have been packaged into an Excel-based Business Planning Toolkit. The toolkit is downloadable from the internet for maximum convenience and within hours, you’ll have the basis of an investor quality business plan that no template or software alone could deliver.
Marcus Tarrant
P: (03) 9005 9710
W: www.businessplanninghq.com

Affinity Marketing

Affinity Marketing is a boutique marketing and PR agency based in Sydney, Australia.

Cost effective, nimble and meticulously well targeted, we help clients to raise their profile locally or nationally, target new markets and media, draw attention to their online presence and make their business’s presentation shine (through website, print or communications material). Contact us for more information on how we can help your business or not-for-profit find the x-factor!
Brianna Power
P: (02) 8006 5035
W: www.affinitymarketing.com.au


SME, owners, business, business plan, plan, ,consumer, investment, finance



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