Small business planning process
The process of planning a new small business is dominated by research. You will need to research all aspects of your business & environment, including researching your own abilities and expectations, your competitors & suppliers & their products or services, your customers & their needs and expectations, marketing, your locations and timing, plus the details of how you will physically operate. These points can be grouped as Strategic Planning, Marketing Planning and Operational Planning. When planning, a person may wish to enlist the help of tools such as business plan templates. A detailed, step by step template such as the one available free from business.gov.au may provide direction & structure.
The research for your business planning process will need to address the following areas:
- You should begin by reviewing your business idea and current situation. Consider what you envision the purpose of the business to be, what your expectations are and the strengths & weaknesses of your business. This could be re-visited at the end of the planning process.
- Research the environment that you will be operating in. This includes researching your chosen industry, customers, competitors, suppliers & locations.
o Analyse your competitors and their strengths & weaknesses. What do they offer, or where do they fall short, and how can you place yourself best to compete with them?
o Try to determine what it is that your customers need or value most. Is there a strong need for the product or service you plan to offer? You can compare this to your competitors to determine where the opportunities are. In a way this is “choosing your battles” as you must focus your limited resources on the opportunities you consider most worthwhile.
- Research marketing strategies & platforms, their pros & cons and determine how & why they could be used most effectively by you.
- Determine which customers you will focus on, exactly how you intend to reach them and how you plan to convince them to buy your product or service.
o Here you will need to make a detailed marketing plan, not just a broad outline.
- Here you will research & lay down the details and plans for the day-to-day running of your business.
o You will need to determine what resources you have (e.g. money, equipment, helpful friends, time), and what ways you could employ them most productively.
o Develop the most realistic & accurate financial plan you can. This is basically your budget, to which you will compare the actual performance of your business, once running.
With your research done & organised into your business plan, the last part of the planning process is to review and revise. Ideally, have someone trusted and experienced review the plan with you.