Monthly Archives: August 2016
Once your company has decided on your business strategies and approach for the upcoming year, you’re then left with the task of communicating it to employees. Keeping your workforce up-to-date and well informed about the goals of your organization will go a long way in helping those goals be achieved.
After all, who are the ones usually doing the actual work? Your employees, of course.
This leads to the next question: What are the best ways to drop some business plan knowledge on workers in your company? You may want to start by asking them. A quick survey emailed to every employee or printed out and distributed to non-desk workers can provide a clear understanding of what information your audience wants and needs to know. This will save you from having to explain information not important to them and will also allow the employee to grasp the essential concepts quickly so they can get back to work.
Once the information rollout begins, remember to keep it simple. Programs and catchphrases are great tools to keep things interesting but overdoing it is, well, overdoing it. Employees reach a point of program overload where they find it hard to keep track of the next corporate initiative because they all have different names and different ways they are supposed to be interpreted.
Eventually, employees will miss important information because they see it as just another program to keep up with. The solution to this is to just have an overarching theme or context so when an employee receives a communication, they will know it is something they need to pay attention to. To help communicate this, brand the program with a specific color palette and fonts that when they show up in an employee’s inbox, they will take the time to open and actually read it.
When these communications are being made, make sure company leadership plays a role. Employees need to see that executives and managers have “bought-in” to the business plan and fully back each initiative. Workers can hear this straight from leadership via written blogs, video blogs or HTML emails sent directly to employees. This “straight from the horse’s mouth” approach builds confidence in employees and brings everyone together for the betterment of the company.
It may be time to put your business plan on a diet. Experts say the document doesn’t need to go on for dozens and dozens of pages, include endless descriptions of your products or contain excruciatingly detailed financial projections. Instead, your business plan needs to just get to the point.
Of course, if you are trying to attract investors, you will need to furnish more details; but if the goal of your business plan is to keep you, your partners and employees on track and prepare for the future, you can trim it down to the basics.
“There are business plans for external use, but there should also be an internal business plan that is a living, breathing document that changes with your business, ” said Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group, an executive search firm specializing in pharmaceutical and biotechnology. “It can be 10 pages or less and should really be a selling document that grabs you.”
[Top 10 Business Plan Writing Software Programs]
For starters, you need an executive summary that quickly provides a hook, said Christian Seale, chief operating officer of Equitable Origin, which has created a responsible certification program designed to promote higher social and environmental standards, greater transparency, and more accountability in oil and gas exploration and production.
“You should summarize the problem or opportunity and address how your company’s product or services will address a need,” he said. “You also want to briefly summarize the team that is in place and the skills they have to make it happen.”
The condensed business plan needs to include a description of the product and a description of potential consumers, experts said. “This should be backed up by a brief analysis of who current competitors and potential competitors will be, explaining how the product differs from other offerings,” said Mark Cracknell, co-founder and executive director of Kondoot.com, a social network that lets members broadcast live to family and friends for free.
While you need to make the case for your product or services, too many business plans get bogged down with pages of market research, experts said. “While this may be necessary as you look for investors, keep that to a minimum to make the business plan manageable,” Seale said.
While you can still include financials, don’t overload the plan with data and projects and present relevant information in bright, colorful chart formats. “In this document you are not reaching exclusively financial people and potential investors, so make the information accessible,” said Raz.
In a more brief business plan, exceedingly detailed analysis of expenses can be left out. “Depending on the product and industry, it can be very difficult to gauge exact expenses when dealing with unknown growth factors,” Cracknell said. “If the figures or amounts cannot be determined with a reasonable amount of accuracy, then it’s best to leave them out.”
Cracknell added that there should also be a brief history about who started the company and its origins, he said. “You need to communicate how the business came about and the view going forward,” he said.
Sales and marketing strategy are also important elements of the slimmed-down business plan. “This is always fluid, but putting it in writing as things change help you to remain focused,” said Beth Goldstein, president of Marketing Edge Consulting Group and directorof the $50K New Venture Competition at Boston University.
The best business plan is a finite and defined outline of key acts by specific dates, said
Nicholas L. Turner, co-chief executive officer for Kaye/Bassman International Corp., which provides strategic recruiting and executive search services.
He said developing a formal business plan goes against the grain of many entrepreneurs. “If you put too much detail, you will never get it done, you will never adhere to the map and you will feel restricted from a dynamic capacity to be the entrepreneur,” he said. “I say adapt the plan to you, not you to the plan. A business plan is a tool to use, not the objective to accomplish.”
Successful entrepreneurs know that getting the details down on paper is critical before starting any new venture. For help in the planning stages, many new owners use an online business plan service. Such services provide potential investors with details on how a new business will become profitable. Online business plan software offers the tools and templates needed to create a professional presentation that can be put in front of prospective backers to demonstrate where you want your venture to go and how you plan to get there. The best services provide financial calculators and chart generators to help crunch numbers and illustrate the business’ vision in a quantifiable manner. They also offer a number of additional features such as performance graphs and goal achievement monitors that let business owners track their progress and make necessary changes along the way.
Our sister site, TopTenREVIEWS, does extensive in-depth reviews of online business plan services. Here are the Top 3 recommendations for online business plan services:
LivePlan earned this year’s TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award for simplifying the business plan writing by providing access to the work and materials from any computer with an internet connection. For those launching their first venture, the service guides them through each step. By incorporating teaching into the writing process, LivePlan produces not only an exceptional business plan, but also a more informed entrepreneur.
Document Generation Tools: Chief among the document generation tools offered by LivePlan are the table generators such as sales forecasts, budgets and profit and loss statements. Each part of the LivePlan Financial Plan section contains an easy-to-use table generator for the specific table type desired by the business owner. The service also gives advanced business owners the option of operating in its “Full Financial Mode.”
Guidance Resources: LivePlan walks users through each section of their business plan, giving precise instructions for developing each component. The service divides the writing into chapters, including Executive Summary, Company, Products and Services, Target Market, Strategy and Implementation, Financial Plan and Appendix. Each section contains specific instructions on what needs to be included and examples of what investors and lenders are looking for. Each section also has video tutorials.
Costs: To compare costs, visit TopTenREVIEWS best online business plan services here.
BizPlan earns high marks for providing a step-by-step process that’s accessible to users of all skill levels. While new users have resources to learn what they need, business veterans have the tools required to formulate a business plan without unnecessary handholding. A highlight is the service’s overall compatibility with other widely used applications such as Excel and cloud-based document creation and sharing services like Google Docs. Additionally, it integrates with social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
Document Generation Tools: For beginners, the BizPlan service provides a step-by-step guide to creating a business plan, making the process of building from scratch easy. In addition, BizPlan allows users to share and coproduce their business plan with an unlimited number of partners – even those who many not be central authors on the document but still have important content contributions, such as a lawyer or financial advisor.
Guidance Resources: The entire service is set up to guide users through the process with as little pain as possible. In addition to building the business plan, Bizplan offers investor information to help kick-start the hunt for funding. As users move through the process, each section is clearly labeled and explained in order to remove the ambiguity many entrepreneurs battle when they create their first business plan.