What is a Business Plan?
Most people assume you only have to write a business plan if you are going to seek capital from a bank or other lending institution. This is not always the case.
Most plans are driven by market needs and aims. The importance of having a business plan is to ensure your business remains on target for goals and objectives set for that financial year and for the future. There is no real difference between a business plan and a ‘strategic business plan’. You could say that every plan is a strategic one.
Most plans are driven by marketing, since you have to look outwards at the market, the market place, products and services before being able to look inwards at the company and finances.
Part of the business plan will include a marketing strategy, looking at how you will achieve growth, where to market and who to market to. Many people look at marketing as ‘selling’ but it is more than that. It’s about ‘branding’, image and building trust within the marketplace, about identifying the people who you need to market to. It’s about customer engagement and identifying your niche market and where they hang out. The Marketing strategy also looks at product development, customer service, ongoing training, the marketing system used to capture lead generation and how to retail to your customer on an ongoing basis, getting repeat customers, not just once off.
Why is it needed?
Having a plan helps you to define growth for your company, and expansion. It helps to keep you focused and on track.
Writing a business plan is not as complex as most people think, there are lots of templates out there on the market place that can help with the format.
Here are some quick tips for researching and putting together your marketing strategy:
· Determine your company values or ‘mission statement’, this will help to keep you on track as it is easy to get distracted without a mission statement.
· Do your market research, who are your audience? Your competitors? Who are your products aimed at? Where do they hang out?
· What is your unique selling point? What makes you stand out from your competitors
· What are your competitors activity? How do they compare to yours?
· What is it you are trying to achieve in your company / business? What are your aims?
· Are your products or services competitive? Do they stand out?
· What’s your customer service level like? Compared to your competitors?
· Have you got your marketing strategy right?
· Have you determined your advertising budget, your company brand etc?
· Market expansion – any plans for this?
· What will your business be like in 3 to 5 years time? Plan for growth financially and products, service wide.
Here are some great sites that offer more information on business planning and templates that you can use when producing a business plan.
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