Tag Archives: business plan

Do you need a business plan?

ID-100141327December, normally a quieter month for me, has started with a  flurry of activity from both existing clients and new contacts. It seems that everyone wants a strategic marketing plan in place for  before January.

In the past it has been a bit of a struggle persuading small business owners of the benefits of planning so this small shift is a bit of a break through. The question I am  more likely to be asked now is not; ‘do I need a plan?’ but; ‘what form should my plan take?’

It seems that many entrepreneurs are frighted that a plan will restrict them and stifle creativity. It’s an understandable concern; especially if they have been involved in the often bureaucratic and rigid planning processes undertaken in the corporate world.

I found this short video from Cranfield School of Management which I think makes several good points about business planning. In particular it advocates a mix of structured planning and actually getting out there and testing your business idea. It’s an approach that I tend to take with my clients; encouraging them to write down what they already know about their businesses, their market and competitors, their customers and so on and to think about what the information is telling them.

If you don’t have a plan and are still wondering if it is worth spending the time to produce one, I will leave you with this thought… according to research undertaken by Cranfield, writing the right business plan can improve your growth potential by 30%.

Need I say more?

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Why spend time writing a marketing plan?

I’ve already read lots of ‘top tips’ for businesses in 2012  and most advocate the usual array of cost cutting, invoice chasing and ‘free’ marketing ideas. I have  also noticed a greater emphasis on planning and even the odd mention of upstream marketing (which is essentially all the research and background work that comes before the creative bits).

As a marketer who specialises in the planning phase and loves all the strategic stuff this is music to my ears.

But is it really worth spending time and effort on writing a marketing plan when you know your own business inside out? Here are just three of the key reasons why I write a marketing plan each year:

  • If it’s important, write it down – I find that simply going through the process and discipline of putting pen to paper (or more likely fingers to keyboard) really helps to clarify my thoughts
  • Gives focus –  actively thinking about what you want to achieve and how you are going to reach your targets helps give focus to your marketing activity. Having a comprehensive plan of activities saves you time and money throughout the year
  • Business review – having a clear plan to refer to makes it easier to review your progress, celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes.

It’s tempting not to write a formal marketing plan especially if, like me, you work largely independently or marketing is just one of your many responsibilities. It is well worth investing the time though and is one of the best pieces of advice I have read for a happier and healthier business in 2012.