bpp_thumb_thumb.jpgIn a recent poll on iFashion we ask how many of you had compiled a detailed business plan before they started their business. A total of 41% of you said that you hadn't.
 A screenshot of Business Plan Pro

Many small business owners that have businesses that start small and are self funded do not draw up business plans because they believe that these documents are only necessary when looking for funding. But business plans are essential to the success of your business, big or miniscule.

A business plan is essentially a document that sets out your business on paper.

The very act of creating a business plan forces you to think about your business in a critical and realistic way. It is very easy to get swept up in the dream of owning your own business and bogged down with the details of manifesting it. The business plan will show you what is important and set you down a path that will enable the realisation of your dreams.

If setting up a business plan is too boring and laborious for you, then you should not be starting a business. Instead offer your services to an employer or find someone who is more business orientated than you and strike up a workable partnership. If you already have a business but never compiled a business plan, do so immediately. You may be surprised by what you learn. If you put together a business plan for your business ten years ago, do another now. Markets, labour forces, costs and personal ambitions change over the years. A business plan should have a maximum lifespan of around 5 years before a revision is required to take changes into account. A two year plan is around average.

There are a myriad of sites and businesses out there that offer instructions on how to create effective business plans. The sheer number of them is daunting and vast amount of information can be overwhelming. The following represents the best resources, in our opinion. They are the best because they are written in simple English and are comprehensive. You need to understand your business plan for it to be of any use and it needs to cover every aspect of your business. If you have found sites that are as useful, please share them in the comments section.

  • If you are really struggling to get started on your business plan download the free Sanlam Cobalt Business Plan booklet . It is a simple exercise book that will help you get started. It is absolutely brilliant for beginners.
  • For R 1064 (standard) or R 1480 (premier) you can buy an amazing software package called Business Plan Pro . It will take you, step by step, through the business plan creation process, all the while creating your plan with you. It asks you all the necessary questions and aides you with relevant examples.
  • Both Absa and Standard Bank have business plan booklets that explain section by section, what is required in your business plan. SEDA also have a comprehesive business breakdown page.
  • 'My Own Business' has a great multi media page about creating business plans with videos and sound bites.


Very important tips

If you already have a business spend some time with your employees to get feedback from them. They may also understand your market better (as they deal with clients daily) and they may have a better idea of where you business needs change to improve. By giving them opportunity to contribute their experiences, you can make them feel like they are an integral and valuable part of your business, which they are.

Get someone you trust, like your accountant, lawyer or mentor to read over your plan. If your plan is plain and clear to them, then you have done well. Ask for feedback - you may have missed an important aspect.

Your business plan is just the start. From here you need to put into action what you have written down. Business plans that are filed away are useless and quickly forgotten. Effective business plans have benchmarks for you to attain so that you know that you are on track. Keep refering to your plan. Your plan and your business are one and the same.

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Add your comment (1)
written by AmandaLeigh, May 22, 2009
Great feature Angie. I spent a couple of years working with business plans and proposals...and reading them can be just as tough as writing them. To give some insight into my perspecitves I wrote the iFashion blog Business Plans (For Creatives!) at