What are the critical steps needed to achieve a successful business plan? This may come as a surprise to my fellow business consultants, but producing a successful business plan is not as difficult as people often think, so long as they follow a logical sequence. Here is my considered view as to the critical steps. 1. Understand what you are planning and why; 2. Define the activities of your organisation; 3. Outline the current position of the business; 4. Review and discuss the external market conditions, undertake and understand a competitive analysis, and define your market positioning; 5. Define your core objectives; 6. Prepare and articulate the strategy to attain and meet the objectives; 7. Identify and review risks and opportunities; 8. Prepare a strategy to deal with risks and exploit opportunities; 9. Refine the strategies into operational plans; 10. Prepare financial forecasts including revenues, costs, cash_flow, capital expenditure and assumptions adopted; 11. Finalise the plan; 12. Get it approved; 13. Use it; 14. Review it regularly and update as appropriate.
Remember the proverbial expression 'not seeing the wood for the trees'? You need to see the 'wood' first, then delve in and start examining the individual 'trees', meaning the individual items which you will be breaking down later. So a great point is to make sure that you have that overarching vision _ and if you cannot find one, then maybe it is an indication that you are obsessing on a few technical aspects that do not necessarily make up a whole business as you had imagined it. A business that makes sense and is going to be sustainable in the future is one that has that clear vision within which all the smaller parts contribute to make it successful.