What’s the point of a business plan?

Business gurus will insist that a SME has no credibility or chance of success without a proper business plan.

There’s no prospect of raising finance without one, even, these days via crowd funding.

But many small business owners struggle with the concept of setting targets for revenue, growth or increased turnover in one, three or even five years time, especially given the volatility of local, national and export markets since 2008.

It can feel like crystal ball gazing or fantasy. Who knows what may happen next?

But what most forget is that a plan isn’t set in stone. It needs to be re-visited regularly and should be adjusted as conditions change.

Most business advisers would advise flexibility and regular reviews of performance so that goals and decisions about spending can be adjusted accordingly.

As part of a flexible business plan, nowadays an essential ingredient is the cash flow forecast.

This can then be used to spend more or less depending on the availability of cash and the return on it being invested such as on growth and marketing initiatives, or on efficiency and cost reduction measures.

For businesses to successfully survive the economic uncertainties that look as though they may be with us for some more years they will need to plan for multiple outcomes regardless of what is planned.

So yes, a business plan is still an essential map through uncharted waters as long as it is looked at regularly and adjusted when necessary.

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