If you don’t know where you are going then how do you expect to get there?
Running, expanding or starting a business without a business plan is like trying to drive somewhere for the first time without a roadmap or SatNav! Planning gives you a path to follow, otherwise, you are just guessing. In running or starting a business, the learning curve is short before you run out of resources and are forced to close. Therefore, a business plan helps you set up a sound framework and system ahead of time, as well as address potential problems and threats. If you don’t have a system in place to deal with problems and you don’t have a sound strategic plan in place, you will find yourself needlessly sidetracked by working “in” the business instead of “on” the business.
A Business Plan will save you a lot of time and money and using an experienced trade professional will be money well spent as they will explore every aspect of the business with you to both understand it and ensure that it is a viable proposition. Following consultation it may well be that you do not move forward with that particular business however this is not money lost but more so, money very well spent as has highlighted potential issues, pitfalls and possibly saved you thousands in potential losses. Careful planning ahead of time will help you wisely budget your resources and significantly minimise the time you spend assessing threats, problems, obstacles and opportunities.
A business plan actually creates the future you want it to be. Granted, a business planning process can’t predict everything and markets change very quickly, but a business plan puts a solid model in place to deal with such unpredictability and should make you fully aware of breakeven points and different levels of variability in your business.
If you need to raise funds for your business venture or thinking about viability of refurbishment, a well thought out business plan is the very best tool available to achieve the mix and amount of funds your business requires as well as starting to take those around you on the business journey with you. When times are tough in your business a good funding plan will give you a fighting chance of obtaining the badly needed funding or support.
Nothing stays the same from one day to the next in this industry, or indeed any business and because of this constant change, your business will quickly fall behind and suffer without having a good business plan in place. A plan puts a system in place to identify and address changes in the market place so you can proactively seize and turn them into opportunities. Without a forward thinking plan in place, changes in your market place can quickly become insurmountable problems and obstacles. A business plan empowers you to convert these changes into opportunities and increased profitability.
For any business a good, well thought out and put together business plan is a key tool to not only showing understanding of the business but also of ensuring that there is a clear vision of targets and opportunities, both commercial and financial.
So why is it that so many people do not devote the right amount of time and effort to preparing a business plan or worse still, never look at their business plan again once they have entered the business? This is especially relevant for the licensed and hospitality trade and even more so in the current competitive and economically challenging climate.
RS Hospitality Solutions Ltd offers dedicated services to the licensed trade including professional business plans and forecasting. Operating across North West England, Midlands, North Wales and Central & Southern Scotland RS Hospitality works with many clients during their application process as well as on a consultancy basis post entry. By working alongside clients RS Hospitality is able to offer independent advice at all times about the operational and financial controls of the business in addition to working with clients in maximising their potential and opportunities be it through food, marketing, advertising, profit and loss controls or general business advice.
A good business plan should be a detailed account of what you are planning to achieve and how you are going to do it. Background research into the premises, trading history, trading issues as well as local area demographics and local neighbourhood should all be featured alongside the vision for the future:
- Who are your target customers and how are you going to attract them?
- What is your offer going to be and how are you going to deliver it?
- How are you going to operationally control the business – staff, marketing, advertising, standards as well as introducing new ideas?
- How are you going to fund the business?
- What are the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats associated with the business?
- How are you going to deliver the numbers presented in the Profit & Loss forecasts?
The key to all this comes back down to the original business plan…. regular reviews of both the financial forecast and the operational plans serve to provide a budget to work against, target to work towards and checklist of events and activities to introduce whilst always maintaining a clear vision for the business and keen eye on the numbers.
Operating a business without a well developed business plan is just like operating a car blindfolded. You wouldn’t blindfold yourself and drive down a busy motorway would you? Why would you do that with your business, future and money?