A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company ...
A business plan is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also ...
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In its simplest form, a business plan is a guide—a roadmap for your business that outlines goals and details how you plan to achieve those goals. Don't swallow ...
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Alphabetized list of free business plan templates to help start a business, service of US Small Business Administration & Small Business Development Center.
Business planning is the first and most important function of the management process. It lays down the foundation for the creation of various business policies, procedures, and strategies. It provides a roadmap for the organization to run in a consistent and cohesive manner. Planning involves the setting of long-term and short-term goals for the business and outlines the strategies that must be put in place to achieve those goals. This helps management and employees to operate in consonance with the corporate plans and vision, and never lose sight of the group’s goals.
Planning is a continuous process because the business plans must constantly undergo revisions and changes in accordance with changing business conditions. In a highly complex and dynamic market environment, organizations that are agile and nimble-footed are able to survive and succeed in the long run. This involves a dynamic planning process that continues to re-adapt itself to changing technologies, competitors’ behavior, macroeconomic factors, and changing consumer needs and aspirations. Well-planned business organizations are usually able to anticipate and manage change more effectively and seize market opportunities to achieve leadership in a competitive marketplace.
Business planning involves setting group goals as well as departmental goals for the business organization. Long-term goals and short-term goals may be defined separately. Sales, marketing, and production goals may be quantified as much as possible to provide a clear perspective for strategy building and developing management processes. Clear goals help to motivate the organization to move forward with a specific aim and a clear direction. Any deviation from the goals can be measured later and the necessary modifications in business policies and strategies can be introduced.
Defining Policies and Procedures
The planning process involves the creation of corporate policies for the group as well as for various departments. These policies provide a broad framework of rules and regulations within which the business must operate. This ensures that all employees, in addition to top management, work in a common direction and respect the company’s policies. Similarly, clear procedures for various organizational tasks are laid down. This allows the business to perform at an optimal level of efficiency and effectiveness by using well-defined procedures.
Once the broad business plan for the organization is ready and includes corporate vision, mission, goals, policies, and procedures, the next step of the planning process is to create sound business strategies. These strategies must be geared to achieve the goals and targets that have been set forth already. Furthermore, the strategies must be confined within the financial budget that has been planned for a particular department or unit.
The business planning process may differ between organizations. Some companies operate on the basis of projects they receive from clients, such as large engineering firms or technologically-oriented companies. Such companies require a detailed project planning process because each project is different and requires specialized focus and attention. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), which is based in PA, there is a shortage of at least 100,000 project management professionals in the United States due to the rising demand for large projects.
Business planning consultants may sometimes overreach in terms of goal setting, and set the goals of the organization much higher than its intrinsic capabilities. This can result in a faulty planning and execution process in anticipation of higher sales and higher revenues. The company may invest heavily in capacity building in accordance with bigger production or sales, which may not be realized later on.
Sometimes, business planning professionals may fail to anticipate the growing market demand and may set lower goals for the organization. This excessively conservative approach can be negative for the company’s growth. The business may miss out on some major opportunities in absence of adequate planning to meet the higher demand.
Weak or Outdated Business Strategy
The corporate strategy building process may be flawed, and result in ineffective strategies that fail to achieve the group’s goals and targets. Strategy creation and the implementation process is the most sensitive part of a business in a highly competitive market environment. The business will be outperformed by competitors if its strategies are weak or outdated compared to those of the competitors.
Faulty Project Planning
Project planning is a critical part of the business planning process for some organizations. This can involve complex technical aspects, particularly for large IT, engineering, or other technological projects. If the planning team or consultants are not well-versed with the technology or the various technical aspects of the project, it may result in faulty planning, which could lead to project delays and cost escalations.
Business planning consultancy firms usually charge a significantly high fee for their services. The fee may depend on whether the process involves general planning consultancy or planning for specific areas of the business. Some business planners may also work on the basis of the total number of man hours invested by the consulting firm in the company’s planning business.
Business planning is the most critical part of the entire management process. Maximum effort, time, and money may be invested in the planning process to ensure that a sound foundation is laid down for the organization to move forward. Once the organization has developed comprehensive and effective business plans, implementation becomes easy. Predictability of results and financial stability of an organization can improve with a sound planning process.
Successful businesses are seldom the product of arbitrary events. Behind most successful business ventures there lays a well conceived and executed plan. Business planning software, consultants and other services help companies everywhere to devise and implement effective business plans that will help enable their success.
Business planning software, consultants and other services are available nationwide from reputable providers. There are a number of different software applications designed to aid in formulating your business plan. Many such applications come loaded with sample business plans that can be modified to suit the requirements of your organization. There are also business plan templates that can be downloaded that can make formulating your business' plan easier.
Business plan consultants are also available to help you devise how best to successfully carry out your business strategy. Working with dependable service providers when planning your business strategy can help minimize the amount of mistakes you make. Such services can also help to better position your business to succeed. The Web can be helpful when looking for effective ways to plan your business. Business.com is a trusted resource that helps businesses and individuals everywhere. Visit the links to reliable providers on the left to find out more.
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