The Definitive Business Plan
The Definitive Business Plan
The Definitive Business Plan
Add this page to your favorites Make this your home page Print this page Email details of this page to a colleague, friend, or yourself Back: Languages Next: The Planning Process

Planning – Getting Started

Business planning is about a journey. The plan is your starting point. It charts a route to your destination. It identifies the major hazards that you should watch for along the way. It gives you strategies for coping with squalls and obstacles. It gives you landmarks to confirm your progress. It helps you expect the unexpected.

(From The Definitive Business Plan, page 9)


Start developing your plan by answering an obvious question – what and why are you planning? When you define this concisely you are well on your way to developing a valid plan. The following notes will help you focus your thinking.

Why write a business plan?

Business plans are used for many different purposes. Essentially, it may be considered that they are:

  • A formal expression of the planning process
  • A request for funding
  • A framework for approval
  • A tool for operational business management.

What is a business plan anyway?

DEFINITION: A business plan sets out the method for running a specific activity over a specific future period.

A plan usually reviews the current status of an organisation and sets out an overall business strategy for say five years with a more-detailed operational plan and budget for one-year ahead. The strategy and plan will cover all areas of business. The most important issues vary from company to company, but in general the key focus is on management, product, marketing and sales.

What parts of the business does a business plan cover?

A business plan might contain:

  • A full assessment, setting out strategies, operating and financial plans and objectives
  • A strategic plan
  • An operational plan
  • A financial plan
  • A marketing plan
  • A plan for an entire enterprise
  • A plan for a specific department or division
  • A plan for a functional area – research and development, production, etc
  • A plan for a specific project.

What time period does a business plan cover?

  • One year in the life of an on-going enterprise
  • The duration of a short or long project
  • A five or ten year view.

When do you write a business plan?

The background to the plan might be:

  • Starting a new venture, launching a new product, etc
  • Continuing a period of stability
  • Extending growth
  • Recovering from a setback such as a recession
  • Charting a course for next year's activities
  • Preparing for the unknown
  • Preparing for an adverse event such as recession or a competitive onslaught
  • Dealing with other changes

Who writes the business plan?

The chief executive of the business or business unit should take overall responsibility for the plan, but the best business plans are developed by the whole team.

Undoubtedly, the best policy is a top down, bottom up approach – where top management sets the strategy, operating managers develop their plans within the strategy, and then the whole process is reviewed, amended if necessary, and then approved from the top. There should be substantial overlap in the middle. This joint approach is a good way to get widespread co-operation, understanding and commitment.

We encourage you to give it a go – to do the planning youself. We do not recommend the use of consultants. It should be your plan. If you do call in outside planners, look for someone to work with you, to understand your skills, abilities, resources, needs, and ambitions; your industry and market; to bring out the best in you. This is how we try to do it. We do not write plans. We work with you to write your plan – sharing the work load in the most appropriate way.

After this quick look at the why and hows, consider next the planning process itself.

Top of this page Back: Languages Next: The Planning Process
buy the book
Ways to Buy The Definitive Business Plan
sign up for our newsletter
Email address:
Sign up for our newsletter