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Cheat Sheet

Business Plans For Dummies (Australian Edition)

Some people picture a business plan as just something that they have to put together to raise money for a new business idea; a formality. But you don’t create a business plan just to raise money. You should also see the plan as a powerful too in the overall success of your venture. This Cheat Sheet gives you some pointers on what makes a business plan work and the main pieces of your plan that you need to consider. You’ll also discover a checklist of planning essentials, key questions you need to ask while planning your strategy, and also some useful resources.

Understanding What Makes a Business Plan Work

If you’re just getting your business off the ground, then making projections for the months or years ahead can seem rather like betting on the horses. However, you have to start somewhere. You probably have a good idea of what you want your business to become, but how do you make your idea a reality?

You start with:

  • Plans: A mission, a vision, goals and objectives that all work together

  • Organisation: A structure for your business that makes sense.Procedures: Efficient and effective ways of doing things

  • Leadership: The ability to influence and encourage others around you

  • Skills: The talents and expertise your people need to succeed

  • Culture: Beliefs and attitudes that lead to doing the right thing.

And you make sure you include the following major parts of a successful business plan:

  • Executive summary

  • General overview

  • Business environment

  • Business description

  • Business strategy

  • Financial review

Checking Out Business-Planning Essentials

Planning doesn't guarantee success, but planning does go a long way towards bettering your chances. Here’s a checklist of planning essentials you can use to get your business plan into gear:

  • Get everyone involved in setting goals and objectives.

  • Find out all you can about your customers.

  • Understand who your competitors are.

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses relative to opportunities and threats.

  • Determine which capabilities you absolutely need to succeed.

  • List all the things you do that add customer value.

  • Make sure that you do your financial homework.

  • Imagine several different scenarios for the future of your business.

Key Things to Ask Yourself about Customers and Competitors

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. The more you know about your customers, the more you know about your own business. Customers tell you how to succeed in the marketplace. Your customers are so important that you can't afford to leave them out of your business plan.

Answer these three questions about your customers:

  • Who is buying?

  • What do they buy?

  • Why do they buy?

Competitors are around to make life interesting. They always try to woo your customers away, promising products or services that have better value, so you can't ignore them. You have to be able to identify your competitors; how they do business and where they plan to go in the future. Competition represents a big piece of your business environment. Your business plan should cover what you know about your competitors and how you intend to keep track of them on an ongoing basis.

Answer these three questions about your competitors:

  • How big are they?

  • Which customers are they after?

  • What is their strategy?

Your plan should also address how you intend to use the knowledge you gain to choose competitive battles that you can win.

Make sure you address these three points about winning over your customers and keeping competitors at bay:

  • Cut costs to the bone

  • Offer something unique

  • Focus on one customer group

Useful Resources for Australian Businesses

You can find a treasure trove of business planning information and resources online. To help you sort through all the riches, here's a list of popular sites that provide useful and reliable tips, tools and examples, including dozens of real-life business plans. Check out:

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