The Definitive Business Plan
The Definitive Business Plan
The Definitive Business Plan
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The Book – Contents

You can use this outline of the contents of the book as a workplan for preparing your own business plan.

Chapter 1. What's it all about

This is essentially a full introduction to the book, to business planning and to documenting a plan. The most important point is that business planning helps achieve success.

Contents: Who should read this book. How to use this book. A plan of the contents. An introduction to planning. The who, what, why, and how of writing a business plan.

Achieves: The right frame of mind.

Key concepts: Objectives for the plan. Steps to a successful plan.


Chapter 2. A winning presentation

A little groundwork pays dividends. Careful preparation makes business plans easier to produce and manage. It also creates a document framework that will enhance the quality and ease of production of all other business reports, including the manuals and handbooks described in Chapter 12.

Contents: How to establish a document framework for an effective written plan. Thoughts on presentation. Preparing the front matter.

Achieves: Document framework. Cover, legal small print, contents, contacts, definitions.

Key concepts: Controlling document revisions and circulation.


Chapter 3. Getting down to it

The executive summary and the conclusion are perhaps the two most important parts of the written plan. Many readers do not go beyond the executive summary. It also helps focus the planning process. Write it first and make it concise, complete, and compelling.

Contents: Focus on the purpose of the plan. Writing the executive summary and the conclusion.

Achieves: Executive summary and conclusion. Timetable for planning.

Key Concepts: SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.


Chapter 4. Know yourself

The real work begins with building up a detailed understanding of where you are, where you want to go, and what you are working with.

Contents: Appraising the inner working of a business. Basic corporate data, the core objective for the business, vision, mission, values, history, business infrastructure, organisation structure, management team, products and services.

Achieves: Assessment of the internal structure of the business.

Key Concepts: Core competencies. The value ladder.


Chapter 5. Know the world

Once you know yourself, you then have to establish a complete understanding of your external environment, the world in which you operate – your business partners, customers, markets and competition.

Contents: Collecting information and intelligence. Using the Internet. Understanding the world (economics, politics, demographics, pressure groups, globalisation, technology). Disaster recovery. Suppliers, channels to market, and other business partners. Understanding markets and customers; estimating total demand. What industry are you in; your competitors.

Achieves: Assessment of the market and competitive analysis.

Key concepts: Competitive advantage. Customer value. Benchmarking.


Chapter 6. The core of the plan

With an understanding of yourself and the world, now is the time to determine how you will move ahead, to develop a strategy and turn it into an operating plan with clear objectives.

Contents: Portfolio strategy. Business strategies (integration, market-intensive, diversification and defensive). Product Strategy. Departmental strategies – research & development, production, marketing and sales, administration and support. Resource requirements. Strategic objectives. Operating plans. Operating objectives.

Achieves: Strategy, operating plan and objectives.

Key concepts: Critical success factors. Asset-push vs market-pull product development. Making projects work.


Chapter 7. About these numbers

This Chapter introduces the basics of forecasting and financial analysis.

Contents: An introduction to forecasting, financial analysis and spreadsheets.

Achieves: Preliminaries for financials.

Key concepts: Accountant-speak. Balance sheets. Profit & loss. Cash flow.


Chapter 8. Getting to gross profit

Sales are the crux of success for commercial businesses. Non-profit-making organisations and business units might use a proxy for sales. The groundwork in earlier Chapters will lead you simply to an effective forecast of sales and a good understanding of the direct cost of achieving them.

Contents: Forecasting sales volume. The economic environment. Leading indicators. Cost of sales. Gross profit.

Achieves: Sales forecasts. Gross profit. A detailed understanding of product costs.

Key Concepts: Test marketing. Product life cycles. Inventory management.


Chapter 9. Getting to net profit

This chapter is very relevant to every business. The focus is on costs of production and other operations – how you forecast, interpret and control them. Taken with sales discussed in the previous Chapter, this leads you painlessly to net profit (or painfully to net loss).

Contents: Production and operating expenditure. Capital outlays. Current spending on employee and non-employee costs. Provision for contingencies. Other items in the P&L account.

Achieves: Profit and loss account. Operating budgets. Control over spending.

Key Concepts: Managing expenditure. Asset management. Tricks and traps.


Chapter 10. Getting it funded

Producing a balance sheet and the all-critical cash flow projection is a mechanical restatement of the work from the previous two Chapters. If you have a very large deficit or surplus, you might have to review your strategy. If you have to fund a deficit, you will want to move straight into the discussion of debt and equity finance and where it can be found.

Contents: Balance sheet headings. Balance sheets and cash flow projections. Using a surplus. Funding a deficit. Comparing and choosing debt or equity. Valuing the business.

Achieves: Balance sheet. Cash flow. Funding requirements. Valuation.

Key Concepts: Sources of funding and the likelihood of obtaining funding from them.


Chapter 11. Managing risk

By now, you have an almost complete business plan. The one remaining task is to review the risks and look for ways to use them to your advantage, minimise them and prepare for them. If you can bear with some jargon from several professions, there are some attractive techniques presented here.

Contents: Techniques for handling risk. Mathematical methods for assessing risk. Break even. Capacity planning. Marginal costing. Inventory management. Assessing projects; net present value and internal rate of return, setting hurdle rates, marginal analysis; selecting competing projects. The economy. What-if (sensitivity) analysis. Worst-case and alternative scenarios.

Achieves: Risk assessment.

Key Concepts: Limiting factors. Foreign currency hedging. Export and import guarantees.


Chapter 12. Getting it approved

If you have followed the logic introduced in this book, by now you have a beautiful plan and a head start to getting it approved. The approvals process is not always as simple as might be hoped. But follow the instructions here and you will not fail.

Contents: Focus on the approvals objective. What people look for in business plans. How the financials are assessed. How to approach the bankers and other capital providers. Preparing for, conducting and following-up on meetings. Revising the plan. Due diligence. The contract.

Achieves: A complete business plan. Other documents including FAQ – frequently asked questions. Cash in the bank.

Key Concepts: Key financial ratios. Return on investment. Six key pages.


Chapter 13. Making it happen

With plan in hand, this Chapter shows how to turn it into living reality; how to use it to steer your business to success.

Contents: From plan to reality. Communicating the plan. Allocating responsibilities, job descriptions. Policies rules and procedures. Operating limits. Budgets. Employee objectives and appraisal. Monitoring performance against budgets and objectives.

Achieves: Handbooks, manuals, job descriptions, policies, rules, procedures, limits, objectives, budget reviews. A successful business.

Key Concepts: Maintain focus on the business objectives, react to signals. Do not become obsessed with paper.


Appendix. A framework for a business plan

There is a copy of this mini business plan available for download on this site. There is enough content to give you an idea of what to include, but parts are deliberately left blank to encourage you to think hard about your own business.

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