It could have been a cigarette packet but I gave up thirty years ago, whereas the beer mat is still in use (albeit a bit soggy)!
To repeat what I wrote in a previous blog,
“At its most basic a business plan can be two or three sheets of paper summarising where you want the business to be in a few years’ time, and how you intend to get there; …
The business plan need not even contain many numbers! – having said that, it is more difficult to measure success in the absence of an evaluation of the decisions you made in the first place.”
So there we are – but you might like to see what should be on those pieces of paper, and I think the questions below pretty well give the answer:
1.What are you going to offer?
Your products or services:
· What developments are you planning?
· What changes in technology or legislation can be exploited?
· Any restrictions in supply?
· Are your products or services affected by changes in taste?
2.Who do you sell to?
The market and sales – you know your own market, don’t you?
Do you really?
· Who are your existing customers?
· Who might your new customers be?
· What are your competitors doing?
· Why will customers come to you?
· What can you do to ensure they come!
· What price can you charge? (first numbers mentioned …)
3.How do you deliver?
It’s all very well to know what you are going to sell and to whom, but can you deliver on your promise? Whether you are manufacturing, buying and selling a product, or delivering a service,
· Do you know how you are going to fulfil demand?
· Do you have sufficient capacity?
· Do you have sufficiently qualified staff
· Does it depend all on you? – do you need more of a management team to achieve your aims?
· Do you have good enough administrative backup?
4.Where will it be in 2 or 3 years’ time?
If you are talking about significant growth or change over the next few years, you will need to ensure that you want to be there!
5.Why do you do it?
I’m not suggesting you should be a charity so you need to ensure that you are going to make money out of this!
If you evaluate the decisions and actions which you have decided on above, you will have the beginnings of a forecast profit and loss account (and balance sheet and cash flow if you follow it through sufficiently)
And aside from the pricing these are the first figures I have mentioned – and this bit may benefit from having input from a beancounter.
All right – it has to be a pretty big beermat!