Your Business Plan – An important lesson

I was talking to a restauranteur friend of mine last week, a very successful one at that, and we were discussing how he set his business up and what were some of the issues/problems that he would approach differently.

I was most surprised when I raised the issue of writing a business plan and how important this was, then to hear him say that he had never, until the last 4 months or so addressed the issue of writing a business plan. (He has been in business for 15+ years)

He went on to say that: ” if I had been given advice/direction on how to setup a business and write a business plan I would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars plus I would still be living in my dream home which I had to sell to reduce debt and support my growing business.

His comments were that:  ” it was not as though my business was not doing well rather, I did not plan on the degree of success and the costs involved in expanding and growing my business were going to be.”

A business plan would have focused him on the vision for his business, and his mission statement would have planned how to achieve his vision and his financial plan would have told him what the financial strains were going to be. He could have then planned his personal life.

He had no personal or business goals and objectives clearly defined, thus the business had no clear direction.

The moral to this story is never think you are that good that you do not need a business plan, it is your road-map to success.

So from the discussion I had with my friend and from all the comments and questions raised about business plans I thought I should list for you the minimum requirements I believe you need to include in your business plan.

They are:

  • Executive Summary: This is a one-page overview written after your business plan is finalized. This is the most important document in your business plan, so focus on it. It must be a fantastic eye catching document that is concise and to the point. It must be a document that people want to and will read. If they don’t, you’ve failed. We do not want that to happen, so spend time on this document. This is your sales document, if you convince them that you have done your research and you know what your goals are this is 80% of the battle. The other sections give the detail.
  • About your business: This is typically called the management plan or operations plan. It includes your mission statement, details about your business including structure, registrations, location and premises, staff, and products/services.
  • About your market: This is the marketing plan. It should outline your marketing analysis of the retail business niche you are entering, your customers and your competitors. This section should also cover your key marketing targets and your strategies for delivering on these targets.
  • About your future: This section covers your plans for the future and can include a vision statement, business goals and key business milestones.
  • About your finances: The financial plan includes how you’ll finance your business, costing and financial projections.
  • Supporting Documents: These are the documents you have gathered during your research on your product, market demographics, location, marketing strategies etc.

So, remember you’re business plan is the foundation stone of your business, its a fluid document and will change as your business goals move direction. Remember, keep your plan up to date. Don’t put it on the top shelf where you can’t see it.


By Warren Meadley