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Developing A Business Plan: Do I Need To?Starting a new business can be a challenge for anyone, whether you’re a novice or an experienced business mogul.

Starting a new business can be a challenge for anyone, whether you’re a novice or an experienced business mogul. There’s a mountain of things you have to consider and it can be difficult to know where to start. This is where a really good business plan comes in which can help tremendously. A well-researched business plan can help you to overcome the challenges you’ll face when the business is up and running.

Some people see developing a business plan solely as a tool to acquire funding for their business but a business plan is much more than this. It gives you the opportunity to fully assess your potential business, set out a plan and give you clear goals to achieve. It forces you to look at all areas of your business including areas that may be challenging and address what you need to do in order to succeed.

Guidance and Vision
Your business plan should be something that guides the way for your business. You should be able to refer back to it in the future to see where you originally envisioned the business would be heading. You can only do this if your business plan is detailed and comprehensive; that’s why it is so vitally important. You could be left floundering and making unnecessary mistakes if you fail to draw up a good business plan and stick to it. Obstacles are inevitable but don’t have to throw you off course if you have a structured business plan to adhere to.
This vision is not something that should be kept for the owners and managers only. The whole workforce should share that vision for the business’ future. This will help to make sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction. This vision should offer both short-term and long-term goals that will help to guide and shape your business.

Competition Analysis
For a business to succeed, it needs to know exactly what it’s up against before even entering the market. Unless you’ve come up with an entirely new idea for which there is no rival to speak of, competition analysis is vital. If you don’t conduct a thorough analysis of the market and your main rivals, you will find it difficult to get ahead in your chosen market. Your rivals are not going to be easy to push past and will likely to have industry experience you don’t have.

The more established and reputable businesses are always at an advantage when a new rival enters the market. Without some strategic advantages, the smaller, newer business will not be able to challenge for supremacy. The analysis you carry out should be detailed and this then allows you to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of other business rivals and how you can differentiate your business.

Market Research
Every business needs to know its target market. You can’t identify the people you want to target with your advertising material until you’ve carried out some market research. This is when you find out who your products or services will appeal to most. When you get the data back from your market research, you can start to think about marketing the business to that target market and then expand to other potential markets.

How you will approach this market research is what should be carefully outlined in your business plan. You can outsource to an expert market research company if you’re not sure how to go about it as they’ll know exactly what to do.

Budgeting
Managing the cash that is flowing in and out of the business is one of the most fundamental tasks in business and it’s not something that can be ignored. Not if you want your business to survive and grow. But knowing how to manage cash flow is not an easy task, and it’s something that you need to lay the foundations for. Planning allows you to put the correct measure in place.

This kind of planning should be a part of your comprehensive business plan. Your budgets will need to be outlined in detail as a part of your business plan and it should cover the necessary funding requirements that the business will need while it’s getting started. Failing to do this properly can lead to all sorts of problems, so make sure you budget carefully and comprehensively and get expert help as required. It is too important to risk not getting it right.

Outlining Exit Strategy
Some business owners set up a business with a relatively short-term lifecycle for it in mind. You might be thinking about selling the business or exiting in some way when the business reaches a certain level. This should be covered in the business plan. Your business plan should always have an eye on the future, so make sure you think about a potential exit strategy.

There are many different types of exit strategies, so you need to research them all. You could offer stock to the public, sell the business to a competitor or organise a management buyout. Another option that’s very commonly used is a merger. This is when two businesses merge into one, allowing for the assets of both to be taken advantage of. An exit strategy might not be on your mind right now, but you should give it some thought.

A business plan is simply a resource that gives you the opportunity to fully access your business idea, make plans for the future and monitor your success. Going it alone and starting your own business is a big step so give yourself every advantage and be prepared. If a business plan can help then it is worth taking the time to create one.

Article supplied by Nesta : the largest and oldest self-storage provider in Ireland.