Business Plan Be Used

How Will
Your Business Plan
Be Used?

How or when will your business plan be used?

Obviously, if the business is seeking investors or lenders.

For many, that is the only usage, and when its purpose is fulfilled the plan goes into the history archive. In other words, it was a static, one-time document.

Our experience suggests that it should be used often.

Considering the possible users mentioned above, it becomes clear that the real use for a business plan is as a dynamic living document.

  • It should have 1, 5 and possibly three year financial projections, and the 1 year should be broken down monthly for that first year. Make sure that the projections are translated into the operating budgets. Regular management meetings will then be tracking actual performance to this plan. Don't worry or dump on managers if they do not meet the plan exactly - but make sure that you all know WHY the plan was not met (whether variance was positive or negative) and WHAT you are going to do to correct.
  • The vision and mission should be reviewed and re-affirmed at least annually - often as the opening segment of a management retreat or shareholder meeting. And, of course, as part of a family meeting about the business.
  • Specific components such as product plan, marketing plan, capital plan, competitive SWOT analysis should be part of an annual review process with the senior management of that functional area.
  • Middle management should see and know that their periodic and annual goals come from the business plan template.
  • All employees from CEO down to lowest levels should have the vision, mission and relevant segments reviewed as part of their annual or more frequent personal performance appraisals.
  • Segments should be used as much as possible throughout the year in meetings with suppliers, customers and even in the company's community and charitable activities.
  • Suffice it to say - use it often! Our favorite experience was with the CEO of a family business who always carried several copies of the executive summary page. One was taped inside the lid of his briefcase where he could glance at it as it sat opened by his desk, during a stopover in the airport or on the plane, in his hotel room at night... he says that it was a constant reminder for him to relate everything he encountered during his business day to the plan. Management meetings and plant visits in his company were famous - woe to any manager or employee who didn't heed the vision, mission or know how his/ her activities related to their section of the plan. They would be promptly served with a copy from his inexhaustible supply. In his company, the business plan was alive and well every minute of every day!



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