The Difference Between Small Business Planning and a Business Plan

So, what’s your plan look like? You know, the plan for your business for the year? The quarter? The month? You do have one right? How will you know if you are successful?

Don’t panic. If you are like the majority of small business owners, you are not very good at planning. Not that you couldn’t be, you have just never taken the time to create a plan for your business. In fact, you wince at the thought of sitting down and trying to create a business plan. But that is where the problem is. There is a major difference between writing a business plan, and creating a simple plan for your business.

The traditional business plan is good for starting a complex business, or getting funding for a rapidly growing company, but for small and medium sized businesses, what they need is a simple business plan to run their business. A strategic, living document about what they expect to happen in the coming months or years, where they expect their business to go, and how they intend to get there.

» Read more: The Difference Between Small Business Planning and a Business Plan

Write Your Own Business Plan for All Types of Business

You don’t need to feel intimidated, you can write your own business plan. People easily feel intimidated by the task of writing a plan. It seems that the financial section is especially intimidating.

A plan put structure to your research to establish if your business idea can be converted into a viable and profitable business. If you have the funds available you can pay an expert to write the business plan for you, but this might not be the best option, because:

The expert may be an expert at writing business plans but he does not necessarily have the passion for your specific business idea.

» Read more: Write Your Own Business Plan for All Types of Business

So What Makes a Great Business Plan?

A business plan is usually required for any new business that is looking to start up and is looking for some kind of funding, be it bank overdrafts, loans, mortgages, grant funding etc. It is also necessary when looking for larger funding to expand a business, and perhaps to acquire equity investment. There are many sources on the internet that will cover a mass of detail that should be included in a business plan, a one-size fit’s all plan if you like. As a template and source of ideas this is okay, but rule number one in producing a business plan is “tailor it not only to your audience, but to your specific business and how you will achieve the goals in the plan”.

Too many plans revolve around what the target audience wants: “What do we need to say, and how do we need to say it to get our hands on those funds?”, this can be a major mistake and may well backfire on you. Sure, you want the funds but not at any cost. Imagine you suit the plan to the reader’s needs and then fail to hit targets in 3 months time, knowing that you couldn’t have met them anyway but needed the funding, what then? Understand what the funder wants from you, and make sure that you include all of the relevant core detail they need to help make a decision. But use your business plan as two things, a tool to manage your business ongoing and to help meet those targets you are setting, and as a marketing document that sells your business idea and strengths to your audience. You may only get one chance, make it count first time, every time!

A business plan is like a story. It has a start, middle and end. It has a plot, that needs to unfold in front of the reader’s eyes, taking them on a journey that throws up a host of challenges and shows them how the characters can overcome, and succeed! There is always a happy ending in a business plan, but along the way there are real terrors and dangers which the reader needs to be convinced can be conquered, and at the end they are confident the main characters are the one’s to do it! It is not a cold and mathematical document…bring it to life, make it real. If it looks and feels real, then with hard work and the right people it can become real.

» Read more: So What Makes a Great Business Plan?