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As I sat down to write this article I wondered how many results would the search term – “Business Planning” get in Google?

The answer – 526,000,000!  That’s a lot of content so it must be an important subject right?

Well, in Australia at least, there is an incredible level of apathy about writing a business plan. Most people spend more time researching and thinking about their annual holidays than they do thinking about business planning for their business! Maybe that’s because holidays are more exciting? Or maybe it’s because people think business planning is ‘too hard’? Well it isn’t – and there really isn’t a ‘right way’ or ‘wrong way’ to go about it. There are however, a few key elements that you should consider.

Business details such as name, location, date the business was founded and background and experience of the business owner. The Vision for the business, the Strategy to achieve the vision and the structure needed to realise the goals. A SWOT analysis – an evaluation of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; details about the products / services the business sells. This should include your unique selling proposition or core point of differentiation and also your pricing strategy.

Your marketing and communication strategy, market research for your product/service and the demographics of your target customers.
How the business is financed, including budgets for Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, forecast of Cash flow and calculation of the break-even sales point. Operational staffing plans including a “Organisation Structure” diagram plus roles and responsibilities within the business.
Depending on the intended audience, your business plan may be less than a few pages (Gazelles www.gazelles.com has an example of a one page business plan!) or several dozen pages.

A pitch for investors will need a plan that is highly detailed with credible research and robust financial projections. The other end of the scale is a rough set of notes that cover these key elements and provides a guide for the business owner to track and monitor progress. A business plan really is an essential business tool – and not so difficult to write. But if you need any help, Google has loads of information!

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