Business planning – How to write a business plan and turn it into action

Andrew Silver, Founder of 360 Growth Partners shares his thoughts on growth mindset

“Good business planning is 9-parts execution for every 1-part strategy”

- Tim Berry

Writing a business plan is an essential part of building a successful business. At its core, a business plan is a roadmap for your business: it establishes your purpose, and it sets goals and expectations. Be clear why you are writing one and who the audience is. A business plan for investment will have different levers to one that is for an internal audience

Your business plan should be a living document that is frequently revisited to ensure it is still relevant. Keeping your business plan updated is vital because no business can succeed unless it stays current with the times and unless it evolves.

Your business’ objectives today will be different from when you first started, your plan should reflect the latest goals that you hope your company will accomplish so you have clear and measurable objectives to work towards. So, let’s start with the basics…

What to consider when writing your business plan

360 Business Planning Process

Understanding your world

Remember any plan starts with your current reality.  Going from A to B requires knowledge of what A looks like. Look at your external environment and see what is happening in your market. It is all too easy to put on our blinkers and forget that our customers have 24/7 access to your competitors. When was the last time you asked your customers for their feedback? Are you innovating or just trying to keep up? Remember In the digital age ‘disruptors’ move fast.

Take some time to reflect on the last twelve months and learn from the experience. What went well and not so well? How did the business perform against its financial goals? How can you capitalise on your strengths? Where are your capability gaps? Do it as a team – it can be a cathartic exercise.

Understanding the Who, What, Why & How

Be clear on your vision, mission and values, identify your overall financial and strategic goals. Then be agile and flexible in their execution to meet the ever-changing needs of your customers. The tactics and actions will change but ensure they are based on clear and considered objectives.

Articulating your plan

A key output of your strategic business planning could be a simple one-page document that articulates your business plan. This is a useful tool for communicating your plan to both internal and external stakeholders.  At 360 we create a strategy house that aligns objectives with clear strategic themes and objectives. However, it is only a high-level view that includes key business objectives and does not detail the steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve them. To ensure the successful implementation of your business plan it is vital you have a clear roadmap that includes specific tactical steps that will deliver on your strategic objectives.

Determining accountability

Your team’s participation will make or break the implementation of your business plan. Without clearly defined roles, responsibilities and accountability it is much more difficult – and stressful – to achieve your strategic objectives. Each team member needs to be responsible for – and take ownership of – their actions, so that the business can achieve results as laid out in the plan.

Turning your plan into action

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The business planning process is only the beginning. Getting the rest of the business engaged and then focusing on the doing is the critical part. Too many plans aren’t translated into detailed roadmaps that start to breakdown the business goals into simple tasks done by teams of people in the real world. Remember that business strategy and planning is of little interest to many who execute the plan. Make it simple, relevant and most important of all, accessible.

Measuring success

Your roadmap should specify measures to track progress against your plan. These can be milestones (such as completion of a task) or quantifiable measures (such as revenue, margin or market share).

Also, you need to decide how you will follow up to ensure steps are carried out. This could include internal reporting and monthly meetings to discuss progress, with a deeper strategic review each quarter. These meetings will help you recognise and reward employees for successes, identify where you’ve fallen behind and study why so you can take corrective action.

Looking ahead

Your strategy and roadmap aren’t written in stone. They should be agile, flexible and responsive to issues that arise during implementation and changes in the external and internal landscapes.

The entrepreneurial world (and the wider world in general!) changes quickly where the only certainty is uncertainty. Be clear about your vision, your ultimate purpose and longer-term goals and then focus on the next 12 months and turning strategy into action

How we can help with your business planning

At 360 Growth Partners we don’t claim we have all the answers, but we have years of experience finding solutions.  We can add a different perspective, provide a listening ear, help build the plan and support you and your team navigate a path to a more positive future.

Download our handy business planning guide for FREE:

FREE Business planning guide

If you would like to know more about 360 Growth Partners and how we could support your business, then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation