Five keys to business planning

by Rakhee Ghelani February 11, 2016

It’s not uncommon to create a sound business plan only to leave it on a shelf gathering dust. While the process of setting a strategic agenda is valuable, a business plan reaps dividends when implemented – it can help track your success and identify opportunities to fine-tune your strategy. We show you the key areas of planning that will set you up for success.

Set objectives
Your strategic objectives are the overarching framework for any business plan. They should take into account your target customers, your products, and how you’ll execute the strategy. It’s also important to make sure you have your team on board, as they are the ones who’ll be implementing the plan.

Be tactical
While your objectives are long term, it’s helpful to break these down into tactical milestones. By setting quarterly or monthly initiatives, assigning responsibility, and defining success factors, you can make sure your broader strategy stays on track. For example, your marketing plan might have an objective to build credibility and generate leads using LinkedIn. To implement this, break it down further by stating the number of groups you’ll comment on and status updates you’ll post each week, along with your expected number of leads per month.

Measure and analyse
Once you’ve set your objectives and tactical initiatives, it’s important to measure and track how you’re performing against your plan. There’s no need to drown in numbers, but you should select ones that are most relevant to your objectives. For example, if your objective is to bring new clients in, you may want to track:

  • number of sales calls
  • number of new clients
  • amount of new revenue.

Each metric should have a projected number in your business or tactical plans, so you can see how you have varied from expectations, and to give you an opportunity to work out why.

Use tools to track
There’s no need to redesign the wheel when it comes to tracking numbers – you’ve probably already got a range of tools at your disposal. The Salesforce.com and Podium dashboards are a great place to track things such as:

  • number of new contacts (to track new leads)
  • leads by source (to measure which have the best conversion rate)
  • time taken to close a deal (to evaluate the efficiency of your sales process)
  • lead conversion rate.

This kind of information should be tracked every day so that tactical changes can be made quickly.
Your financial accounts will also help you track broad metrics, such as:

  • cash flow
  • specific expenses (to determine where you’re overspending or underspending)
  • revenue, operating profit and net profit
  • book growth.

This kind of information can be tracked every month and analysed to identify whether you need to tweak the execution plan.

If you use social media or a website to generate leads and build credibility, make sure you are familiar with the tools that allow you to track your progress:

  • Google Analytics provides a range of data on your website traffic, from number of page visits to how people found your site.
  • Each individual social media platform provides metrics that you can use. For example, onLinkedIn you can measure how much people value your expertise by looking at how many comments, likes and shares you receive on your posts.

This should be tracked weekly so you can amend your tactics to suit your audience.

You should also ensure your business plan aligns with your customer value proposition, so that you are attracting the right kind of client. To do this, you need to reflect on the essence of your business, creating a statement that sets you apart from your competitors and explains to prospects and clients what you can bring to the table.

Review your plan
Your plan should be a living document that is referred to often, and updated as your business strategy, competition and environment changes. Try to look at it monthly to help keep you on track.

Read the article Eleven tools to start your business plan, to find great tools and resources to get your business plan off to a good start.

By implementing, measuring and reviewing your business plan regularly, you’ll pick up issues earlier and ensure your business stays on track.

Contact us to find out more about creating a sound business plan.

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Rakhee Ghelani

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Rakhee Ghelani is a freelance writer who also has nearly 20 years’ international experience developing and implementing strategic initiatives for some of Australia’s largest brands in banking, manufacturing and professional services. She has travelled to over 50 countries and has been published internationally.

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