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Advice from Outside the Square

The Why And How Of Business Planning

The Why And How Of Business Planning

OK, you’ve heard me talk about business plans before.

Well, this week I’m going to talk about what the business planning process involves, and how you have to include the “why” of your business, why does it exist?

You see, people forget that business plans are written to be read. Yes, that’s a revolutionary thought, isn’t it?

People think that business plans are boring internal documents that you write so that you can follow them step by step to grow your business. No. That’s called a to-do checklist.

Business plans are written to be read – by you, by your team, by outside investors, by supporters, by people close to you. Yes, they do form the basis of what you have to do in order to grow your business – but more than that, a business plan is a story of what you have to do in order to grow your business to become the business that you want.

This takes much more than a list of things that are your goals and a list of actions to achieve those goals. This means that your business plan has to be a reminder, an inspiration, it must attract people, it must make them want to be part of your story as an investor, as a team member, as a customer, as a fan.

So, let’s take a look at the why and how of the business plan process.

To me, this revolves around the “why”. This is your sense of purpose.

When you started your business, you started it for a reason. Perhaps you wanted to do something better, or you felt that your customers should receive some greater benefit. You may have started your own business with a sense that you wanted to deliver something to the world or to build a life around your family. It is this sense of purpose that becomes the motivation you need to build into the story that is the business plan. This is the purpose for all the hard work embodied in the plan.

If you think initially that your purpose in starting the business was “to make money”, I challenge you to ask yourself what that money means to you.

You see I don’t believe money in itself is a purpose any of us strive for – it is what that money represents. It may represent security, or a lifestyle, or a measurement of success, or a sense of approval from your market.

Dig deeper to find out the sense of purpose behind earning a lot of money.

Once you are clear about your “why” you can then translate this into a vision of what your business will look like when you have succeeded.

Based on the purpose, describe what the attainment of that purpose will mean to the structure and behaviour of the business. What will it look like at the time you truly attain your purpose and why? Who works in it, how will they behave and why does that align with the attainment of the purpose? Who do you serve and how do they react to what you do?

A description of the vision becomes the description of what you must do to achieve the vision and attain the purpose. If you have described what the business will look like then you must follow strategies to create that look. If you have described who you serve and what they get from you, then you must follow strategies that target that market and create strategies that provide those goods or services to satisfy them in that way.

It is so important to start with “the pitch”. Why does your business exist? What are you trying to do, what is the offer, what problem is it solving, and why do you believe so much in it?

This represents the flag on the hill that you are striving towards.

The rest of the business plan then basically wraps around that one central passion – you validate the assumptions and the numbers, you mark the milestones and you formulate the strategies. That’s the nuts and bolts around this great big inspirational business that you have.

Once you have written your business plan starting from the ultimate vision and how that attains your purpose, then the business plan becomes a document that makes sense to be read.

If you want to know more about creating a purpose-driven business plan, contact me at teik@otsmanagement.com.au or call our office on 08 9242 2085.

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