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ARTICLES >> Business Articles

Business Planning

Posted by Bestprac on Feb 15 2009

By Carlyn Mellors (Rural Directions Pty Ltd)

Why undertake a business plan?

There are various times when a business plan is required. These include:
  • Start up 
  • Preparation for a new venture 
  • When the dynamics of the team change (for example succession planning) 
  • When you hear the saying "we are at a cross road" 
  • When you hear "we are not sure where we are heading" 
  • When you observe people jumping around all over the place with little direction or focus

Businesses operating to best management practices will develop a business plan and review it annually. To ensure that your business plan is of value and meets expectations, we have included some points to bear in mind when developing a plan:

Clear Purpose
Understand why you are doing a business plan and what you wish to achieve from it before you start. Write these down as a reference for a later date. This will help check that the planning process has met your needs.
Long-Term
Business plans need to have a long term view, and not be a ‘magic bullet' or a quick fix. Your strategies developed should be relevant at 3-5 years down the track, not just next season.
Keep an Open Mind
Whilst it is important to know what you want from the plan, it is just as important to keep an open mind. People that spend a lot of time working ‘in' the business, are often surprised what they learn about their business when they begin to work ‘on' the business.
Be Realistic
It is important to think positively, yet remain realistic when doing a business plan. For example, if five above average seasons in a row are not likely, then don't factor them in when doing your business plan!
Establish Timelines
The best laid plans are of no value unless they come to fruition. For each project and strategy, you need to establish timeframes for completion, and measurable objectives so that progress can be monitored. Remember "positive thought without positive action leads to positively nothing".
Communication
Communicate with other members of your business so that everyone is aware of the direction of the business, and their role moving forward. Keeping all team members involved in the plan will encourage responsibility, and increase the chances of success.
Review
When circumstances change, or the goal posts are shifted, it is important that you review and update the business plan. Nothing is set in stone, and remaining flexible and updating the plan is part of the ongoing planning process.
Business planning is a great chance for you to spend some time working ‘on' your business, by getting away from day to day activities to focus on the bigger picture. It is never too late to start planning, no matter how large or small the business.
For primary producers, there are funding sources available to undertake business plans. There is also funding available through the Centrelink Professional Advice and Planning Grant. The first eligibility criteria for this program is that the business is in an EC area, it is then asset tested (Contact Centrelink 13 23 16). In South Australia there is the Planning for Recovery Program which is offered to businesses in receipt of Interest Rate Subsidies (Contact PIRSA on 1800 182 235).
If you are not a primary producer, contact your local Development Board because they can point you in the right direction.
 

Last changed: Feb 16 2012

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