Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills
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What Is Business Development?
- Understanding the Basics
- Areas of Development
- The Process
- Creating a Plan
- Skills Needed
The Bottom Line
Why more and more companies worldwide are embracing this planning process
In the simplest terms, business development is a process aimed at growing a company and making it more successful. That can include seeking new business opportunities, building and sustaining connections with existing clients, entering strategic partnerships, and devising other plans to boost profits and market share.
- The overarching goal of business development is to make a company more successful.
- It can involve many objectives, such as sales growth, business expansion, the formation of strategic partnerships, and increased profitability.
- The business development process can impact every department within a company, including sales, marketing, manufacturing, human resources, accounting, finance, product development, and vendor management.
- Business development leaders and team members need a wide range of both soft and hard skills.
How Business Development Works Within an Organization
Business development, sometimes abbreviated as BD, strives to increase an organization's capabilities and reach in pursuit of its financial and other goals. In that way, it can impact—and also call upon the specialized skills of—a variety of departments throughout the organization.
As the financial services giant American Express puts it, "When it comes to organizational growth, business development acts as the thread that ties together all of a company's functions or departments, helping a business expand and improve its sales, revenues, product offerings, talent, customer service, and brand awareness."
Sales and Marketing
Sales personnel frequently focus on a particular market or a particular (set of) client(s), often for a targeted revenue number. A business development team might assess the Brazilian market, for example, and conclude that sales of $1.5 billion can be achieved there in three years. With that as their goal, the sales department targets the customer base in the new market with their sales strategies.
Business development often takes a longer-range perspective in setting goals than many sales departments have in the past. As the Society for Marketing Professional Services puts it, "A traditional view of sales is akin to hunting, but business development is more like farming: it's a longer-term investment of time and energy and not always a quick payoff."
Marketing , which oversees the promotion and advertising of the company's products and services,, plays a complementary role to sales in achieving its targets.
A business development leader and their team can help set appropriate budgets based on the opportunities involved. Higher sales and marketing budgets allow for aggressive strategies like cold calling , personal visits, roadshows, and free sample distribution. Lower budgets tend to rely on more passive strategies, such as online, print, and social media ads, as well as billboard advertising.
Legal and Finance
To enter a new market, a business development team must decide whether it will be worth going solo by clearing all the required legal formalities or whether it might be more sensible to form a strategic alliance or partnership with firms already operating in that market. Assisted by legal and finance teams, the business development group weighs the pros and cons of the available options and selects the one that best serves the business.
Finance may also become involved in cost-cutting initiatives. Business development is not just about increasing market reach and sales, but improving the bottom line . An internal assessment revealing high spending on travel, for instance, may lead to travel policy changes, such as hosting video conference calls instead of on-site meetings or opting for less expensive transportation modes. The outsourcing of non-core work, such as billing, technology operations, or customer service, may also be part of the development plan.
Project Management/Business Planning
Does an international business expansion require a new facility in the new market, or will all the products be manufactured in the base country and then imported into the targeted market? Will the latter option require an additional facility in the base country? Such decisions are finalized by the business development team based on their cost- and time-related assessments. Then, the project management /implementation team can swing into action to work toward the desired goal.
Product Management and Manufacturing
Regulatory standards and market requirements can vary across regions and countries. A medicine of a certain composition may be allowed in India but not in the United Kingdom, for example. Does the new market require a customized—or altogether new—version of the product?
These requirements drive the work of product management and manufacturing departments, as determined by the business strategy. Cost considerations, legal approvals, and regulatory adherence are all assessed as a part of the development plan.
Will the new business need external vendors ? For example, will the shipping of a product require a dedicated courier service? Will the company partner with an established retail chain for retail sales? What are the costs associated with these engagements? The business development team works through these questions with the appropriate internal departments.
10 Potential Areas for Business Development
As noted earlier, business development can require employees throughout an organization to work in tandem to facilitate information, strategically plan future actions, and make smart decisions. Here is a summary list of potential areas that business development may get involved in, depending on the organization.
- Market research and analysis: This information helps identify new market opportunities and develop effective strategies.
- Sales and lead generation: This involves prospecting, qualifying leads, and coordinating with the sales team to convert leads into customers.
- Strategic partnerships and alliances: This includes forming strategic alliances, joint ventures, or collaborations that create mutually beneficial opportunities.
- Product development and innovation: This involves conducting market research, gathering customer feedback, and collaborating with internal teams to drive innovation.
- Customer relationship management: This involves customer retention initiatives, loyalty programs, and gathering customer feedback to enhance customer satisfaction and drive repeat business.
- Strategic planning and business modeling: This includes identifying growth opportunities, setting targets, and implementing strategies to achieve sustainable growth.
- Mergers and acquisitions: This involves evaluating potential synergies, conducting due diligence , and negotiating and executing deals.
- Brand management and marketing: This includes creating effective marketing campaigns, managing online and offline channels, and leveraging digital marketing techniques.
- Financial analysis and funding: This includes exploring funding options, securing investments, or identifying grant opportunities.
- Innovation and emerging technologies: This involves assessing the potential impact of disruptive technologies and integrating them into the organization's growth strategies.
The Business Development Process in Six Steps
While the specific steps in the business development process will depend on the particular company, its needs and capabilities, its leadership, and its available capital, these are some of the more common ones:
Step 1: Market Research/Analysis
Begin by conducting comprehensive market research to gain insights into market trends, customer needs, and the competitive landscape. Analyze data and gather additional information to identify potential growth opportunities and understand the market dynamics.
Step 2: Establish Clear Goals and Objectives
Leveraging that research, define specific objectives and goals for business development efforts. These goals could include revenue targets, market expansion goals, customer acquisition targets, and product/service development objectives. Setting clear goals provides a focus for the business development process.
Step 3: Generate and Qualify Leads
Use various sources, such as industry databases, networking , referrals, or online platforms to generate a pool of potential leads. Identify individuals or companies that fit the target market criteria and have the potential to become customers. Then, evaluate and qualify leads based on predetermined criteria to determine their suitability and potential value.
Step 4: Build Relationships and Present Solutions
Initiate contact with qualified leads and establish relationships through effective communication and engagement. Utilize networking events, industry conferences, personalized emails, or social media interactions to build trust and credibility. As your relationship forms, develop and present tailored solutions that align with the client's needs. Demonstrate the value proposition of the organization's offerings and highlight key benefits and competitive advantages.
Step 5: Negotiate and Expand
Prepare and deliver proposals that outline the scope of work, pricing, deliverables, and timelines. Upon agreement, coordinate with legal and other relevant internal teams to ensure a smooth contract execution process.
Step 6: Continuously Evaluate
Continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of business development efforts. Analyze performance metrics , gather feedback from clients and internal stakeholders, and identify areas for improvement. Regularly refine strategies and processes to adapt to market changes and optimize outcomes.
While it's common for startup companies to seek outside assistance in developing the business, as a company matures, it should aim to build its business development expertise internally.
How to Create a Business Development Plan
To effectively create and implement a business development plan, the team needs to set clear objectives and goals—ones that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). You can align these objectives with the overall business goals of the company.
Companies often analyze the current state of the organization by evaluating its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats through a SWOT analysis . That can make it easier to identify target markets and customer segments and define their unique value proposition.
A substantial component of a business development plan is the external-facing stages. It should lay out sales and marketing strategies to generate leads and convert them into customers. In addition, it may explore new potential strategic partnerships and alliances to expand your reach, access new markets, or enhance your offerings.
Teams should conduct a financial analysis and do resource planning to determine the resources required for implementing the plan. Once you implement, you should track progress against the key performance indicators (KPIs) you've chosen.
Skills Needed for Business Development Jobs
Business development is a fast-growing field across industries worldwide. It is also one that calls upon a wide range of hard and soft skill sets.
Leaders and other team members benefit from well-honed sales and negotiating skills in order to interact with clients, comprehend their needs, and sway their decisions. They have to be able to establish rapport, cope with challenges, and conclude transactions. They need to be able to communicate clearly, verbally and in writing, to both customers and internal stakeholders.
Business development specialists should have a thorough awareness of the market in which they operate. They should keep up with market dynamics, competition activity, and other industry developments. They should be able to see potential opportunities, make wise judgments, and adjust tactics as necessary. Because many of their decisions will be data-driven, they need good analytical skills.
Internally, business development practitioners need to be able to clarify priorities, establish reasonable deadlines, manage resources wisely, and monitor progress to guarantee timely completion.
Finally, people who work in business development should conduct themselves with the utmost morality and honesty. They must uphold confidentiality, act legally and ethically, and build trust with customers and other stakeholders.
Why Is Business Development Important?
In addition to its benefits to individual companies, business development is important for generating jobs, developing key industries, and keeping the economy moving forward.
What Are the Most Important Skills for Business Development Executives?
Development executives need to have leadership skills, vision, drive, and a willingness to work with a variety of people to get to a common goal.
How Can I Be Successful in Business Development?
Having a vision and putting together a good team are among the factors that help predict success in business development. A successful developer also knows how to write a good business plan, which becomes the blueprint to build from.
What, in Brief, Should a Business Development Plan Include?
A business development plan, or business plan , should describe the organization's objectives and how it intends to achieve them, including financial goals, expected costs, and targeted milestones.
Business development provides a way for companies to rise above their day-to-day challenges and set a course for a successful future. More and more companies, across many different types of industries, are coming to recognize its value and importance.
American Express. " Business Development and Its Importance ."
Society for Marketing Professional Services. " What Is Business Development? "
World Economic Forum. " The Future of Jobs Report 2020 ," Page 30.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce. " 8 Personality Traits of Every Great Biz Dev Expert ."
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- Jul 3, 2021
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT & FINANCIAL PLANNING
What are the basics of business development.
In the simplest terms, business development can be summarized as the ideas, initiatives, and activities that help make a business better. This includes increasing revenues, growth in terms of business expansion, increasing profitability by building strategic partnerships and making strategic business decisions.
Business development encompasses a wide scope of ideas, activities, and initiatives that a business owner and management implement with the goal of making the business better.
Business development can include many objectives, such as sales growth, business expansion, the formation of strategic partnerships, and increased profitability.
Successful business development impacts every department within a company, including sales, marketing, manufacturing, human resources, accounting, finance, product development, and vendor management.
Business developers should be aware of new market opportunities, possibilities for expansion, competitor developments, and the current sources of the company's revenue.
Understanding the Basics of Business Development Business development activities extend across different departments, including sales, marketing, project management, product management, and vendor management. Networking, negotiations, partnerships, and cost-savings efforts are also involved. When starting a start up company, business planning is the first step. All of these different departments and activities are driven by and aligned with the business development goals.
Mission & Vision
What does your business stand for? What are your core values, and what impact are you making within your industry and sector? Focusing on the core of what your company represents will aid in setting goals, developing long term vision, and building your brand. Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Sales Sales personnel focus on a particular market or a particular (set of) client(s), often for a targeted revenue number. With such set goals, the sales department targets the customer base in the new market with their sales strategies. Let's make a budget, and a plan.
Competition and Industry
It is important to know your industry, your competitors, and your market. Investing time into market research before building your business plan is of the upmost importance. Are you inventing the wheel, or is the wheel invented? How do you fit into your industry, and what is the consumer demand?
Marketing Marketing involves promotion and advertising aimed towards the successful sale of products to end-customers. Marketing plays a complementary role in achieving sales targets. Business development initiatives may allocate an estimated marketing budget. Higher budgets allow aggressive marketing strategies like cold calling, personal visits, roadshows, and free sample distribution. Lower budgets tend to result in passive marketing strategies, such as limited online ads, print ads, social media ads, and billboards. Strategic Initiatives or Partnerships To enter a new market, will it be worth going solo by clearing all required formalities, or will it be more sensible to form a strategic alliance or partnership with local firms already operating in the region? Assisted by legal and finance teams, the business development team weighs all of the pros and cons of the available options and selects the one that best serves the business. Vendor Management Will the new business need external vendors? For example, will the shipping of a product need a dedicated courier service? Will the firm partner with any established retail chain for retail sales? What are the costs associated with these engagements? Where are your products being sourced from, and do they align with your business values?
Negotiations, Networking, and Lobbying A few business initiatives may need expertise in soft skills. For example, lobbying is legal in some locales and may become necessary for penetrating the market. Other soft skills like networking and negotiating may be needed with different third-parties, such as vendors, agencies, government authorities, and regulators. All such initiatives are part of business development. Cost Savings Business development is not just about increasing sales, products, and market reach. Strategic decisions are also needed to improve the bottom line, which includes cost-cutting measures. An internal assessment revealing high spending on travel, for instance, may lead to travel policy changes, such as hosting video conference calls instead of on-site meetings, or opting for less expensive transportation modes. Management can implement similar cost-saving initiatives by outsourcing non-core work, such as billing, accounting, financials, technology operations, and customer service. Strategic partnerships needed for these initiatives are a part of business development.
How does your internal business function? Having the right managment, staff and departments in place is crucial to your businesses success. Developing your budget to balance to ensure you are able to staff and run your business will determine longevity and functionality.
The Business Plan The business development scenario discussed above is specific to a business expansion plan, whose impact can be felt by almost every unit of the business. There can be similar business development objectives, such as the development of a new business line, new sales channel development, new product development, new partnerships in existing/new markets, and even merger and acquisition (M&A) decisions. In essence, business development involves high-level decision-making based on a realistic assessment of all potential changes and their impact. Through new ideas and initiatives, it aims to improve the overall business prospects, which drive the functioning of the different business units. It is not sales; it is not marketing; it is not partnering. Instead, it is the eco-system encompassing the entire business and its various divisions, driving overall growth. What Should a Business Owner Know? Since business development involves high-level decision making, the business owner and developer should remain informed about the following:
The current state of the business in terms of SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)
The current state of the overall industry and growth projections
Primary sources of sales/revenues of current business and dependencies
The customer profile
New and unexplored market opportunities
New domains/products/sectors eligible for business expansion, which may complement the existing business
The long-term view, especially with regards to the initiatives being proposed
The cost areas and the possible options for cost-savings
Business Development Ethics Business ethics involves implementing appropriate and fair practices regarding issues such as corporate governance, insider trading, bribery, discrimination, corporate social responsibility, and fiduciary responsibilities. Laws and regulations often set the standard for business ethics, which companies can then choose to follow and build on in order to earn trust and loyalty from consumers and market participants. Business Development FAQs Why Is New Business Development Important? New business development is important for generating jobs, developing key industries, efficiency within the internal business, and keeping the economy moving forward. What Are the Key Skills for Business Development Executives? Development executives need to have leadership skills, vision, drive, and a willingness to work with a variety of people to get to a common goal. How Can You Be Successful in Business Development? Having a vision and putting together a good team are among the factors that help predict success in business development. But a successful developer also writes a good business plan, which becomes the blueprint from which they build their success. What Should a Business Development Plan Include? A business development plan, or business plan, describes what a business's objectives are and how it intends to achieve them, including goals, start-up costs, and targeted milestones. The Bottom Line Business development may be difficult to define concisely, but it can be easily understood using a working concept. An open mindset, willingness for an honest and realistic self-assessment, and the ability to accept failures are a few of the skills needed for successful business development. Beyond the ideation, implementation, and execution of a business development idea, the end results matter the most. Not only will it ensure you have a plan in place to follow and guide you, it can be used to present to investors & new partnerships for future funding opprotunities. The brightest minds in business development should be ready to accommodate a change in order to achieve the best results. Every approval or disapproval is a learning experience, better preparing these professionals for the next challenge.
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- Good word of mouth bolstered by social media
Revenue by Month
Expenses by month, net profit (or loss) by year, use of funds.
Grizzly Bear Financial Managers will incur the following start-up costs:
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- 20th October 2020
- Written by Nandita Kaushal
The first step to building or expanding a business is creating a concrete business development plan. Entrepreneurs will find plenty of opportunities in the present era including promotion tactics to increase sales, but without developing a business plan, none of it will give substantial results.
The reason for this is that we live in an internet driven world which has revolutionised the way a brand markets itself. Older companies like Coca-Cola relied on print and TV ads to reach out to their audience and had a comprehensive plan with large expenses and revenue. Now, a small brand can make a similar impact without the same resources, simply with a good strategy. Read Airbnb.
The bottom line is that the success or failure of your firm largely depends on how good your business development process is. It functions as a road map for your business and also helps you define measurable objectives. Based on it you can network well, acquire new channels and also invest in assured leads.
So, how exactly can you build a business development strategy that comes with sustainable growth?
Structure of a business development plan
A business development plan (BDP) brings together two crucial elements, sales and marketing, and helps in the implementation of strategy. Every company will have a different plan that suits its objectives but if executed well, it can attract customers, turn leads into conversions and also get new clients on board.
The objective of a business development process is to identify, nurture and acquire new clients and opportunities. Since finding better business possibilities is the core need of a company, there has to be a set model in place for the process.
The three-stage model focuses on attracting prospects, building engagement and finally turning opportunities into clients. The first part involves attracting customers through referrals and different channels while in the second, a business deepens its connection with customers. The final part of the process involves turning prospects into clients with impressive services, support and more. Given the entire model is based on customers, markets and relationships, many companies often interchangeably use marketing and sales strategy with a business development plan.
Elements of business development
Having a business plan is a must for all organisations but creating one that gives promising results is seldom easy. Some crucial elements that you must think about when creating your BDP are:
1. Setting goals
As an organisation, you must have high-level goals that help you generate revenue. They also act as a parameter that helps in deciding if the year was successful or not. These limited, practical and achievable goals should include factors like customer retention, introducing new products or services and expanding your network.
For long-term value creation, it’s vital to provide good services to existing consumers in order to retain them. Good networking is necessary for expansion and continuous new services help the business to stay relevant and rake in more revenue.
2. Defining your approach
Navigating a tough market requires prioritising leads and studying customer persona thoroughly. This is useful in designing new market-ready products that will already have a strong demand. Automation software is of great use in prioritising the leads that are most likely to close.
Knowledge of your target audience assists in developing marketing strategies and creating content that buyers easily connect with. A good example of this is Lego who built a strong community based on content simply by understanding its audience preferences. Lego’s excellent content marketing strategy has created customer loyalty causing consumers to purchase their products over competitors.
3. Using the right marketing channels
Access to innumerable marketing channels sounds great but it can be very confusing. A business has to be selective about choosing the right marketing channel, one which meets their requirements.
While a smaller business can look into paid social media advertising, bigger brands like Oracle and Forbes can increase sales through channel partners. Understand what your business needs, what platform is suited to it and the resources required in the process.
4. Tracking development
With the help of data and by building dashboards, a business can effectively track its progress. All other endeavours would not be of use if the company cannot measure its success, understand low-performing areas and build using high-performance tactics.
5. Identifying financial needs
Financial planning and analysis as well as determining resource usage occupy a central place in any business development plan. Strong financial planning ensures that you optimise available resources which helps operations to progress smoothly. Ideas and initiatives directed towards boosting sales can only take off if the company can invest wisely. Proper resource allocation is also pivotal in business expansion and is the core strength of an organisation.
Those planning to become business development managers or have entrepreneurial ambitions should be well versed in financial planning. It is a valuable asset that will help you make sound decisions and provide stability to your business.
London School of Business and Finance provides a short course on Financial Planning and Analysis that will teach you valuable knowledge about financial processes and their practical application. By gaining knowledge of the financial business environment and strategic operations, you can add to your business development skills and become a key asset to your company. Check out the link to learn more about LSBF Executive Education and its short courses .
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4 Steps to Creating a Financial Plan for Your Small Business
When it comes to long-term business success, preparation is the name of the game. And the key to that preparation is a solid financial plan. It helps you pitch investors, anticipate growth and weather cash flow shortages. To get started, you need to learn some of the key elements to financial planning.
What is a Financial Plan?
A financial plan helps determine if an idea is sustainable, and then keeps you on track to financial health as your business matures. It’s an integral part to an overall business plan and is made up of three financial statements—cash flow statement, income statement and balance sheet. In your plan, each of these will include a brief explanation or analysis.
- A financial plan helps you know where your business stands and lets you make better informed decisions about resource allocation.
- A financial plan has three major components: a cash flow projection , income statement and balance sheet.
- Your financial plan answers essential questions to set and track progress toward goals.
- Using financial management software gives you the tools to make strategic decisions efficiently.
Why is a Financial Plan Important to Your Small Business?
A well-put-together financial plan can help you achieve greater confidence in your business while generating a better understanding of how to allocate resources. It shows your business is committed to spending wisely and its ability to meet financial obligations. A financial plan helps you determine if choices will impact revenue and which occasions call for dipping into reserve funds.
It’s also an important tool when asking investors to consider your business. Your financial plan shows how your organization manages expenses and generates revenue. It shows where your business stands and how much it needs from sales and investors to meet important financial benchmarks.
Components of a Small Business Financial Plan
Whether you’re modifying your plan or starting from scratch, a financial plan should include:
Income statement: This shows how your business experienced profit or loss over a specific period—usually over three months. Also known as a profit-and-loss statement (P&L) or pro forma income statement, it lists the following:
- Cost of sale or cost of goods (how much does it costs to produce your goods or services?)
- Operating expenses like rent and utilities
- Revenue streams, usually in the form of sales
- Amount of total net profit or loss, also known as a gross margin
Balance sheet: Rather than looking backward or peering into the future, the balance sheet helps you see where you stand right now. What do you own and what do you owe? To figure it out, you’ll need to consider the following:
- Assets: How much cash, goods and resources do you have available?
- Liabilities: What do you owe to suppliers, personnel, landlords, creditors, etc.?
Shareholder equity (the amount of money generated by your business): Use this formula to calculate it:
Shareholder Equity = Assets – Liability
Now that you have these three items, you’re ready to create your balance sheet. And just as the name implies, when complete, you’ll want this to balance out to zero. On one side, list your assets, such as cash on hand. And on the other side list your liabilities and equity (or how much money is generated by the business). The balance sheet is used along the other financial statements in order to calculate business financial ratios, discussed further below.
Why have a balance sheet? It can provide insight into your business and show important measures like how much cash you have, what your obligations are and what kind of profit you’re making all at a glance.
Personnel plan: You need the right people to meet goals and retain a healthy cash flow. A personnel plan looks at existing positions and helps you see when it’s time to bring on more team members, and whether they should be full-time, part-time, or work on a contractual basis. It looks at compensations levels, including benefits, and forecasts those costs. By looking at growth and costs you can see if the potential benefits that come with a new employee justify the expense.
Business ratios: Sometimes you need to look at more than just the big picture. You need to drill down to specific aspects of your business and keep an eye on how individual areas are doing. Business ratios are a way to see things like your net profit margin, return on equity, accounts payable turnover, assets to sales, working capital and total debt to total assets. Numbers used to calculate these ratios come from your P&L statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement and are often used to help request funding from a bank or investors.
Sales forecast: How much will you sell in a specific period? A sales forecast needs to be an ongoing part of any planning process since it helps predict cash flow and the organization’s overall health. A forecast needs to be consistent with the sales number within your P&L statement. Organizing and segmenting your sales forecast will depend on how thoroughly you want to track sales and the business you have. For example, if you own a hotel and giftshop, you may want to track separately sales from guests staying the night and sales from the shop.
Cash flow projection: Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of your financial plan is your cash flow statement . Your business runs on cash. Understanding how much cash is coming in and when to expect it shows the difference between your profit and cash position. It should display how much cash you have now, where it’s going, where it will come from and a schedule for each activity.
Income projections: How much money will your company make in a given period, usually a year. Take that and then subtract the anticipated expenses and you’ll have the income projections . In some cases, these are rolled into profit and loss statements.
Assets and liabilities: Both of these elements are part of your balance sheet. Assets are what your company owns, including current and long-term assets. Current assets can be converted into cash within a year. Think of things such as stocks, inventory and accounts receivable. Long-term assets are tangible or fixed assets designed for long-term use like furniture, fixtures, buildings, machinery and vehicles.
Liabilities are business obligations that are divided into current and long-term categories. Examples of current liabilities in a financial plan are accrued payroll, taxes payable, short-term loans and other obligations due within a year. Long-term liabilities include shareholder loans or bank debt that matures more than a year later.
Break-even analysis: Your break-even point—how much you need to sell to cover all your expenses—will guide your sales revenue and volume goals. Start by calculating your contribution margin by subtracting the costs of a good or service from the amount you pay. In the case of a bicycle store, the sale price of a new bike minus what you paid for it and the salary of your bike salesperson, your rent, etc. By understanding your fixed costs, you can then begin to understand how much you’ll need to markup goods and services and what sales and revenue goals to set in order to stay afloat or turn a profit.
Video: How to Build a Financial Plan
Create a strategic plan: Starting with a strategic plan helps you think about what you want your company to accomplish. Before looking at the numbers, think about what you’ll need to achieve these goals. Will you need to buy more equipment or hire more staff? Is there a chance of new goals affecting your cash flow? What other resources will you need?
Determine the impact on your company’s finances and create a list of existing expenses and assets to help with your next steps.
Create financial projections: This should be based on anticipated expenses and sales forecasts . Look at your goals and plug in the costs needed to achieve them. Include different scenarios. Create a range that is optimistic, pessimistic and most likely to happen, so you can anticipate the impact each one will have. If you’re working with an accountant, go over the plan together to understand how to explain it when seeking funding from investors and lenders.
Plan for contingencies: Look at your cash flow statement and assets, and create a plan for when there’s no money coming in or your business has taken an unexpected turn. Consider having cash reserves or a substantial line of credit if you need cash fast. You may also need to plot ways to sell off assets to help break even.
Monitor and compare goals: Look at the actual results in your cash flow statement, income projections and even business ratios as necessary throughout the year to see if you need to modify your plan or if you’re right on target. Regularly checking in helps you spot potential problems before they get worse.
Three Questions Your Financial Plan Should Answer
Once you’ve created your plan, you should have answers to the following questions:
- How will your business make money?
- What does your business need to get off of the ground?
- What is the operating budget ?
Financial plans that can’t answer these questions need more tweaking. Otherwise, you risk starting a new venture without a clear path and leave behind valuable insight.
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Using spreadsheets can get the job done when you’re just getting started. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you’re collaborating with others in your organization.
Financial management software is worth the expense because it offers automated capabilities such as analysis, reporting and forecasting. Plus, using cloud-based financial planning tools like NetSuite can help you automatically consolidate data and improve efficiency. Everyone across your organization can access and analyze up-to-date information, which leads to better informed decisions.
Whether you’re looking to secure outside funding or just monitor your business growth, understanding and creating a financial plan is crucial. Once you have an overview of your business’ finances, you can make strategic decisions to ensure its longevity.
Small Business Financial Management: Tips, Importance and Challenges
It is remarkably difficult to start a small business. Only about half stay open for five years, and only a third make it to the 10-year mark. That’s why it’s vital to make every effort to succeed. And one of the most fundamental skills and tools for any small business owner is sound financial management.
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A 3-step process can get the planner in touch with their professional and personal origin stories before mastering social media technology.
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The brokers are offering their practice management lessons and resources as scale becomes increasingly crucial to wealth managers.
8+ Sample Business Development Plan Templates to make your Business Successful!
Any startup or business can run successfully only when a periodical assessment of the success and of any plans that could change things around is made. A carefully drafted plan for developing a business plan is often the best source for you to start the right assessment of your organization.
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Elements of a Business Development Plan:
- Every minute detail of the business and the areas that it can be developed should be listed out in detail. Take a look at personal development plan templates for more. This makes it easier for those in the organization to understand where the business needs to be developed.
- The strengths and weaknesses of the company should be carefully assessed so that you will have an idea of where to get better and where to cut down things.
- There should be a detailed list of how you will overcome any issues that might come your way and how each employee is going to work towards it. Check web business development action plans for more details on how to make a website friendly business plan. Also, making a list of all the skills your company possesses with respect to its equipment, personnel, infrastructure, etc.
- Once the plan is made, fix a deadline or a time limit in which the plan should be successfully executed and then make the company work towards it.
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5 Steps to Create a Business Development Plan:
Step 1: goals and objectives, step 2: target audience, step 3: resources needed, step 4: budget, step 5: review, simple business development plans template.
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General faqs, 1. what is a business development plan, 2. what is the purpose of using a business development plan, 3. what should a business development plan include.
- Details of the company and the summary of what you do
- Situation analysis
- Competitors and target audience/market
- SWOT analysis
- Clearly outlines goals and objectives
- Strategies and tactics to reach the goals in a given timeframe
- Guidelines for all members of the company
4. What does a Business Development Plan look like?
5. what are the strategies for business development.
- Recognize your competitors get the right opportunities
- Pay attention to your website and other channels of media
- Keep an eye on the online reviews your business and organization gets
- Focus on the requirements of your client
- Offer the best quality services you can provide.
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What is financial planning in business?
Table of Contents
What is financial planning?
Difference between a personal and business financial plan, how to create a financial plan for your business, develop a solid strategy, create a balance sheet, make cash flow projections, prepare a projected income statement, allocate your budget, monitor your results, plan your finances easily with countingup.
Planning and organising your finances is one of the most crucial parts of running your own business. Financial planning helps you prepare for what the future may involve and uncover ways to grow your company.
But a financial plan involves much more than simply tracking income and expenses. To help you understand what financial planning is, this guide covers:
- The difference between a personal and business financial plan
Read on to learn how Countingup can help you manage your financial planning with ease.
A financial plan serves as a roadmap for your economic growth, showing where you’re at right now, where you want to go, and how you will get there.
You can create a financial plan for personal and business purposes, but these processes are slightly different. We’ll explain more about personal vs business financial planning later in this article.
Financial plans are essential because they force you to consider if you’re on the right track to achieve your business goals. Businesses don’t usually grow accidentally but as a result of hard work and careful planning.
Working with specific goals in mind and a plan for reaching them increases your chances of taking your business where you want it to go. Otherwise, you risk stumbling around in the dark, focusing on things that won’t help your business grow.
Most financial plans include much of the same information. However, there are some key differences between a personal financial plan and a business one. The reason is that an individual’s financial goals are likely different from those of a growing company.
For example, your personal financial plan may include a retirement plan, a strategy for investments, and a plan for buying a new house. You’ll also likely focus on making more money while paying yourself as tax-efficiently as possible.
On the flip side, your company’s financial plan is more likely to focus on goals like hiring more staff, buying new equipment, expanding your product or service offering, and purchasing additional inventory.
These goals are entirely different from the hypothetical individual goals we just mentioned. Therefore, you need a different strategy for your business and personal financial planning.
What is important to include in a financial plan? Below we’ve listed some of the main documents and other aspects you need to create a robust plan:
Effective financial planning usually includes a strategic plan. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next year and ask yourself questions like:
- Do I need to expand or hire more staff?
- Do I need more equipment or new resources?
- How will my plan affect my cash flow?
- Will I need financing? If yes, how much?
Once you know where you want your business to go in the next 12 months, think about how much it might cost you.
It’s also good to think about what you would do if your finances suddenly deteriorated, perhaps from not getting enough jobs or selling enough products. Maybe you could put money aside when the business goes well to have funds available if money ever gets tight.
Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your business’s financial position, meaning how much money you have, how much you’ll receive, and how much money you owe. It’s called a ‘balance sheet’ because it calculates what you need to balance out.
A balance sheet should list your:
- Assets: Such as unpaid invoices, money in the bank, and inventory.
- Liabilities : Money you owe, credit card balances, loan repayments, and so on.
- Equity: For small businesses, this is usually the owner’s equity, but it could include investors’ shares, retained earnings, and stock proceeds.
Financial planning also involves predicting how much money you’ll make and spend in the coming month, quarter or year. Record how much you expect to make from sales and what you think you’ll spend on expenses like bills, supplies, loan repayments, and so on.
You can use a simple spreadsheet to calculate your cash flow projections. We have a separate guide that tells you all about what cash flow is and how it works.
Next, you’ll want to prepare a projected income (or profit and loss) statement to predict how successful you think your company will be. It can be helpful to include different scenarios, good and bad, to help you prepare for each one.
Income statements typically include:
- Revenue: Money from sales.
- Expenses: Money you’ll spend.
- Total income: Calculated as your revenue minus expenses before income taxes.
- Income taxes: Such as Income Tax, National Insurance, and Corporation Tax for limited companies.
- Net income: Your total income after deducting expenses and taxes.
Once you’ve created your strategy and filled in your balance sheet, cash flow, and income projections, you need to figure out where you’ll spend the money you make.
Take your company’s overall budget (read more about how to budget money for your growing business ) and divide it into specific budgets. For example, one for hiring new staff, one for buying new equipment, and one for expanding your product or service offering.
Once you’re done with your financial planning, monitor your real-life results and compare them to your predictions. Monitoring helps you spot any problems so you can fix them before they get out of hand.
It may be a good idea to hire a financial expert to help you put together and monitor your financial plan. Accounting software like Countingup can also help you keep track of your finances almost effortlessly.
Countingup offers sole traders and small business owners the chance to save time and money.
With Countingup, your business current account and accounting software are available in one app. Coupled with our handy expense reminders, automated invoicing, and tax estimates, you can have complete confidence in keeping on top of your finances as you trade.
The app’s realtime profit and loss dashboard gives an insight into your business’ performance and can give you the edge you need to make it a success.
Find out more about Countingup here and sign up for free today.
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- A Game-Changing Business Development Strategy to Achieve Consistent Growth
Your business development strategy can be key to the success or failure of your firm. In this post, we’ll explore how to create a strategy and associated plan that can propel an individual, a practice or an entire firm to new levels of growth and profitability.
Business Development Defined
Business development (BD) is the process that is used to identify, nurture and acquire new clients and business opportunities to drive growth and profitability. A business development strategy is a document that describes the strategy you will use to accomplish that goal.
The scope of business development can be wide ranging and vary a lot from organization to organization. Consider the model of how professional services organizations get new business shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: The three stages of the business development funnel
The first two stages of the model, Attracting Prospects and Build Engagement, are traditional marketing functions. The final stage, Turning Opportunities into Clients, is a traditional sales function. In the traditional role, business development would be looking for new channels of distribution or marketing partners.
But roles are changing and naming conventions evolve. In today’s world many firms refer to the entire marketing and sales process as business development. I know, it can be confusing. So let’s sort it out a bit.
Business Development vs. Marketing
Marketing is the process of determining which products and services you will offer to which target audiences, at what price. It also addresses how you will position and promote your firm and it’s offerings in the competitive marketplace. The result of all this activity should be an increasing awareness of your firm among your target audience — and a stronger flow of qualified leads and opportunities.
Download the Business Development Guide
Historically, business development has been a subset of the marketing function that was focused on acquiring new marketing or distribution relationships and channels. While this role still exists in many companies, the business development title has become interchangeable with many marketing and sales functions.
Business Development vs. Sales
Sales is the task of converting leads or opportunities into new clients. Business development is a broader term that encompasses many activities beyond the sales function. And while there is some overlap, most traditional BD roles are only lightly involved in closing new clients.
Business development is often confused with sales. This is not too surprising because many people who are clearly in sales have taken to using the title of Business Developer . Presumably this is done because the organization believes that the BD designation avoids some possible stigma associated with sales.
Nowhere is this practice more prevalent than in professional services. Accountants, lawyers and strategy consultants do not want to be seen as “pushy sales people.” This titular bias is firmly rooted despite the fact that developing new business is an important role of most senior members of professional services firms.
Since so many clients want to meet and get to know the professionals they will be working with, the Seller-doer role is well established in many firms. The preference for Seller-doers also tends to discourage firms from fielding a full-time sales force.
As an alternative approach to leveraging fee-earners’ time, some firms have one or more Business Developers on staff. In the professional services context, these folks are often involved in lead generation and qualification, as well as supporting the Seller-doers in their efforts to close new clients. In other organizational contexts, this role might be thought of as a sales support role.
The result of this confusing picture is that many professional services firms call sales “business development” and make it part of every senior professional’s role. They may also include some marketing functions, such as lead generation and lead nurturing, into the professional’s BD responsibilities.
It is this expanded role, where business development encompasses the full range of lead generation, nurturing and sales tasks, which we will concentrate on in this post.
See also: Heller Consulting Case Story
Business Development Examples
To be clear on what this role entails, let’s consider this business development example:
Bethany is the Director of Business Development at a fictional mid-sized architecture firm. She is not an architect herself. Nor is she involved with any aspect of delivering the projects that the firm has signed. Instead, her role is exclusively focused on signing new business for her firm—with either new clients or existing ones.
For new clients, Bethany spends much of her time responding to RFPs, communicating directly with inbound leads generated by the marketing/sales enablement team, and nurturing potential clients that she met at a recent industry conference. Bethany also collaborates with the marketing team in the development of new materials she needs to sell to new accounts.
When it comes to existing accounts, Bethany also has a role. She meets monthly with delivery teams to understand whether current client projects are on scope or if change orders are needed. Moreover, she maintains a relationship with key stakeholders of her firm’s clients. If another opportunity for more work opens, she knows that her relationship with the client is an important component to that potential deal.
In this example, Bethany is the primary driver of business development but that does not mean she is doing this alone. Imagine she has a colleague Greg who is a lead architect at the firm. While Greg’s first focus is delivering for his clients, business development—and even marketing—should still be a part of his professional life. Perhaps Greg attends an industry conference with Bethany, he as a speaker and expert and her as the primary networker. The business development dynamic should not end with Bethany and should permeate the whole organization.
In this business development example, you can see that the range of roles and responsibilities is wide. This is why it is essential for business development to not be ad hoc, but done strategically. Let’s talk about that now.
Strategic Business Development
Not all business development is of equal impact. In fact a lot of the activities of many professionals are very opportunistic and tactical in nature.This is especially true with many seller-doers.
Caught between the pressures of client work and an urgent need for new business they cast about for something quick and easy that will produce short term results. Of course this is no real strategy at all.
Strategic business development is the alignment of business development processes and procedures with your firm’s strategic business goals. The role of strategic business development is to acquire ideal clients for your highest priority services using brand promises that you can deliver upon.
Deciding which targets to pursue and strategies to employ to develop new business is actually a high stakes decision. A good strategy, well implemented, can drive high levels of growth and profitability. A faulty strategy can stymie growth and frustrate valuable talent.
Yet many firms falter at this critical step. They rely on habit, anecdotes and fads — or worse still, “this is how we have always done it.” In a later section we’ll cover how to develop your strategic business development plan. But first we’ll cover some of the strategies that may go into that plan.
Top Business Development Strategies
Let’s look at some of the most common business development strategies and how they stack up with today’s buyers .
Networking is probably the most universally used business development strategy. It’s built on the theory that professional services buying decisions are rooted in relationships, and the best way to develop new relationships is through face-to-face networking.
It certainly is true that many relationships do develop in that way. And if you are networking with your target audience, you can develop new business. But there are limitations. Today’s buyers are very time pressured, and networking is time consuming. It can be very expensive, if you consider travel and time away from the office.
Newer digital networking techniques can help on the cost and time front. But even social media requires an investment of time and attention.
The close relative of networking, referrals are often seen as the mechanism that turns networking and client satisfaction into new business. You establish a relationship, and that person refers new business to you. Satisfied clients do the same.
Clearly, referrals do happen, and many firms get most or all of their business from them. But referrals are passive. They rely on your clients and contacts to identify good prospects for your services and make a referral at the right time.
The problem is referral sources often do not know the full range of how you can help a client. So many referrals are poorly matched to your capabilities. Other well-matched referrals go unmade because your referral source fails to recognize a great prospect when they see one. Finally, many prospects that might be good clients rule out your firm before even talking with you. One recent study puts the number at over 50%.
Importantly, there are new digital strategies that can accelerate referrals. Making your specific expertise more visible is the key. This allows people to make better referrals and increases your referral base beyond clients and a few business contacts.
Learn More: Referral Marketing Course
Sponsorships and Advertising
Can you develop new business directly by sponsoring events and advertising? It would solve a lot of problems if it works. No more trying to get time from fully utilized billable professionals.
Unfortunately, the results on this front are not very encouraging. Studies have shown that traditional advertising is actually associated with slower growth. Only when advertising is combined with other techniques, such as speaking at an event, do these techniques bear fruit.
The most promising advertising strategy seems to be well-targeted digital advertising. This allows firms to get their messages and offers in front of the right people at a lower cost.
Outbound Telephone and Mail
Professional services firms have been using phone calls and mail to directly target potential clients for decades. Target the right firms and roles with a relevant message and you would expect to find new opportunities that can be developed into clients.
There are a couple of key challenges with these strategies. First they are relatively expensive, so they need to be just right to be effective. Second, if you don’t catch the prospect at the right time, your offer may have no appeal relevance — and consequently, no impact on business development.
The key is to have a very appealing offer delivered to a very qualified and responsive list. It’s not easy to get this combination right.
Thought Leadership and Content Marketing
Here, the strategy is to make your expertise visible to potential buyers and referral sources. This is accomplished through writing, speaking or publishing content that demonstrates your expertise and how it can be applied to solve client problems.
Books, articles and speaking engagements have long been staples of professional services business development strategy. Many high visibility experts have built their practices and firms upon this strategy. It often takes a good part of a career to execute this approach.
But changing times and technology have reshaped this strategy. With the onset of digital communication it is now easier and much faster to establish your expertise with a target market. Search engines have leveled the playing field so that relatively unknown individuals and firms can become known even outside their physical region. Webinars have democratized public speaking, and blogs and websites give every firm a 24/7 presence. Add in video and social media and the budding expert can access a vastly expanded marketplace.
But these developments also open firms to much greater competition as well. You may find yourself competing with specialists whom you were never aware of. The impact is to raise the stakes on your business development strategy.
It is common to combine different business development strategies. For example, networking and referrals are frequently used together. And on one level, a combined strategy makes perfect sense. The strength of one strategy can shore up the weakness of another.
But there is a hidden danger. For a strategy to perform at its peak, it must be fully implemented. There is a danger that by attempting to execute too many different strategies you will never completely implement any of them.
Good intentions, no matter how ambitious, are of little real business development value. Under-investment, lack of follow through and inconsistent effort are the bane of effective business development.
It is far more effective to fully implement a simple strategy than to dabble in a complex one. Fewer elements, competently implemented, produce better results.
Next, we turn our attention to the tactics used to implement a high-level strategy. But first there is a bit of confusion to clear up.
Business Development Strategy Vs. Tactics
The line between strategy and tactics is not always clear. For example, you can think of networking as an overall business development strategy or as a tactic to enhance the impact of a thought leadership strategy. Confusing to be sure.
From our perspective, the distinction is around focus and intent. If networking is your business development strategy all your focus should be on making the networking more effective and efficient. You will select tactics that are aimed at making networking more powerful or easier. You may try out another marketing technique and drop it if it does not help you implement your networking strategy.
On the other hand, if networking is simply one of many tactics, your decision to use it will depend on whether it supports your larger strategy. Tactics and techniques can be tested and easily changed. Strategy, on the other hand, is a considered choice and does not change from day to day or week to week.
10 Most Effective Business Development Tactics
Which business development tactics are most effective? To find out, we recently conducted a study that looked at over 1000 professional services firms. The research identified those firms that were growing at greater than a 20% compound annual growth rate over a three-year period.
These High Growth firms were compared to firms in the same industry that did not grow over the same time period. We then examined which business development tactics were employed by each group and which provided the most impact.
The result is a list of the ten most impactful tactics employed by the High Growth firms:
- Outbound sales calls from internal teams
- Providing assessments and/or consultations
- Speaking at targeted conferences or events
- Live product/service demonstrations
- Presenting in educational webinars
- Pursuing industry award opportunities
- Business development materials
- Email marketing campaigns
- Conducting and publishing original research
- Networking at targeted conferences or events
There are a couple of key observations about these growth tactics. First, these techniques can be employed in service of different business development strategies. For example number three on the list, speaking at targeted conferences or events, can easily support a networking or a thought leadership strategy.
The other observation is that the top tactics include a mix of both digital and traditional techniques. As we will see when we develop your plan, having a healthy mix of digital and traditional techniques tends to increase the impact of your strategy.
Business Development Skills
Now that we have identified the key business development strategies and tactics, it is time to consider the business development skills your team will need. Business development skills require a broad range of technical skills but there are some that make a difference.
When the Hinge Research Institute studied marketing and business development skills in our annual High Growth Study , we found that the firms who grow faster have a skill advantage within their marketing and business development teams.
Let’s dive into the top three skills from this list.
The number one business development skill high growth firms enjoy are strong project management skills. And for experienced business development specialists, this makes good sense. Staying organized, accurately tracking business development activity, and managing accounts are essential for building and maintaining strong business relationships. Activities like the proposal development see business development team resources manage and produce a strong proposal quickly, including the right stakeholders, and without sacrificing quality.
The next most important skill is simplifying complex concepts. In business development conversations, it is vital that team members are strong communicators of your firm’s service offerings and capabilities. Those who are able to take a comlex scope of work and communicate it in a way that a potential buyer can understand. Speaking in industry jargon or overly complicated charts is a fast way to see a business lead become unresponsive. Therefore, it is no surprise to see that the fastest growing professional services firms have an advantage in communicating complex information in a way that buyers understand.
The third most important business development skill is face-to-face networking. Despite the hiatus of many in-person events, high growth firms still reported that strong networking skills are a top skill enjoyed by their firms. Strong face-to-face networking skills are as much of an art as it is a science. While some can be more charismatic than others, everyone can prepare their teams with the resources and plan they need to succeed in a networking environment.
Review the other business development and marketing skills in the figure above and determine which skills your team should aim to develop. Strategy development for planning your business development plan, research for understanding the competitive landscape and industry trends, and social media prowess all play an important role in business development, too. Developing these skills should be a key priority of your business development team.
How to Create Your Strategic Business Development Plan
A Business Development Plan is a document that outlines how you implement your business development strategy. It can be a plan for an individual, a practice or the firm as a whole. Its scope covers both the marketing and sales functions, as they are so intertwined in most professional services firms.
Here are the key steps to develop and document your plan.
Define your target audience
Who are you trying to attract as new clients? Focus on your “best-fit” clients, not all possible prospects. It is most effective to focus on a narrow target audience. But don’t go so narrow that you can’t achieve your business goals.
Research their issues, buying behavior and your competitors
The more you know about your target audience the better equipped you will be to attract their attention and communicate how you can help them. What are their key business issues? Is your expertise relevant to those issues? Where do they look for advice and inspiration? What is the competitive environment like? How do you stack up?
Identify your competitive advantage
What makes you different? Why is that better for your target client? Are you the most cost-effective alternative, or the industry’s leading expert? This “positioning” as it is often called, needs to be true, provable and relevant to the prospect at the time they are choosing which firm to work with. Be sure to document this positioning, as you will use it over and over again as you develop your messages and marketing tools.
Choose your overall business development strategy
Pick the broad strategy or strategies to reach, engage and convert your prospects. You can start with the list of top strategies provided above. Which strategy fits with the needs and preferences of your target audiences? Which ones best convey your competitive advantage? For example, if you are competing because you have superior industry expertise, a thought leadership/content marketing strategy will likely serve you well.
Choose your business development tactics
A great place to start is the list of the most effective tactics we provided above. Make sure that each technique you select fits your target audience and strategy. Remember, it’s not about your personal preferences or familiarity with a tactic. It’s about what works with the audience.
Also, you will need to balance your choices in two important ways: First, you will need tactics that address each stage of the business development pipeline shown in Figure 1. Some techniques work great for gaining visibility but do not address longer-term nurturing. You need to cover the full funnel.
Second, you need a good balance between digital and traditional techniques (Figure 2). Your research should inform this choice. Be careful about assumptions. Just because you don’t use social media doesn’t mean that a portion of your prospects don’t use it to check you out.
Figure 2. Online and offline marketing techniques
When, how often, which conferences, what topics? Now is the time to settle on the details that turn a broad strategy into a specific plan. Many plans include a content or marketing calendar that lays out the specifics, week by week. If that is too much detail for you, at least document what you will be doing and how often. You will need these details to monitor the implementation of your plan.
Specify how you will monitor implementation and impact
Often overlooked, these important considerations often spell the difference between success and failure. Unimplemented strategies don’t work. Keep track of what you do, and when. This will both motivate action and provide a great starting place as you troubleshoot your strategy. Also monitor and record the impacts you see. The most obvious affect will be how much new business you closed. But you should also monitor new leads or new contacts, at the bare minimum. Finally, don’t neglect important process outcomes such as referrals, new names added to your list and downloads of content that expose prospects and referral sources to your expertise.
If you follow these steps you will end up with a documented business development strategy and a concrete plan to implement and optimize it.
How Hinge Can Help
Hinge, a global leader in professional services branding and marketing, helps firms grow faster and become more profitable. Our research-based strategies are designed to be implemented. In fact, our groundbreaking Visible Firm ® program combines strategy, implementation, training and more.
- For hands-on help developing a high-performance business development plan, register for our Visible Firm ® course through Hinge University.
- Keep pace with the marketplace, generate leads and build your reputation all at once: Marketing Planning Guide.
- Find out how to turn your firm into a high-visibility, high-growth business. Download our free executive guide, The Visible Firm® , in which we layout a detailed roadmap of this research-based program.
- For more insights, check out our blog post, How to Develop a Winning Go-to-Market Strategy for Your Firm
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How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Development [Free Template]
Published: May 01, 2023
Business development is usually confused with sales , often overlooked, and only sometimes given the strategic focus it deserves. Having a business development strategy, however, is crucial to long-term success. It ensures that everyone in your company is working toward a common goal.
But how do you develop a business development plan? Pull up a chair and stay awhile, I’m diving into that and more below.
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Business development is the practice of identifying, attracting, and acquiring new business to further your company’s revenue and growth goals. How you achieve these goals is sometimes referred to as a business development strategy — and it applies to and benefits everyone at your company.
It’s not unusual to mistake business development with sales, but there’s an important distinction between the two. Business development refers to many activities and functions inside and outside the traditional sales team structure. In some companies, business development is part of the larger sales operations team. In others, it’s part of the marketing team or sits on its own team altogether.
Because business development can look so different among industries and businesses, the strategy behind this function is expansive. Below, we outline each step in the strategy and how to apply it to your business development plan.
Business Development Strategy
- Understand your competitive landscape.
- Choose effective KPIs.
- Develop long-term customer relationships.
- Implement customer feedback.
- Keep your website content and user interface fresh.
- Speed up your response time.
- Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.
- Implement a social listening strategy.
- Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.
1. Understand your competitive landscape.
Before you can develop a strategic plan to drive business growth, you must have a solid understanding of the competitive landscape in your industry. When you know who your ideal customer is and what problem they are looking to solve with your product or service, research who else is providing a viable solution in your industry.
Identify other companies operating in your space. What features do their products have? How competitive is their pricing? Do their systems integrate with other third-party solutions? Get crystal-clear on what the competition is offering so you know how to differentiate your product to your customers.
Featured Resource: 10 Competitive Analysis Templates
2. Choose effective KPIs.
How will you know if your business development efforts are successful? Ensure you can measure your goals with relevant, meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the health of your business. The result of these metrics should give you a strong indication of how effective your business development efforts are.
Featured Resource: Sales Metrics Calculator Dashboard
3. Develop long-term customer relationships.
Do you engage with your customers even after the deal has been closed? If not, it’s time to develop a plan to keep your buyers engaged. Building long-term relationships with your customers pays off. A grand majority of a company's business comes from repeat customers, and returning customers are cheaper to convert. Indeed, it’s famously known that it costs five times more to convert new customers than it does to sell to returning customers.
Not only are repeat customers easier to sell to, they can also provide valuable feedback and insights to help you improve your business. Additionally, customer testimonials can be used for valuable content that can attract your next buyer.
4. Implement customer feedback.
If and when you have customers who are willing to provide feedback on your sales process and offerings, make sure you hear them out and implement it. Your customers offer a unique, valuable perspective because they chose your product over the competition — their insights can help shape your strategy to keep your business ahead of the curve.
5. Keep your website content and user interface fresh.
When was the last time your company had a website refresh? Can you ensure that all links are working, that your site is easy to navigate, and that it is laid out and intuitive for those who want to buy from you?
Keeping your website up-to-date and easy to use can make or break the sale for customers who know they are ready to buy. Don’t make it too difficult for potential customers to get in touch with you or purchase your product directly (if that suits your business model).
6. Speed up your response time.
How fast your sales team responds to your leads can make or break your ability to close the deal. If you notice your sales process has some lag time that prevents you from responding to prospects as soon as possible, these could be areas to prioritize improvement.
7. Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.
No business development strategy is complete without a sales plan . If you’ve already established a plan, make sure to unify it with your business development efforts. Your plan should outline your target audience, identify potential obstacles, provide a “game plan” for sales reps, outline responsibilities for team members, and define market conditions.
While a sales plan primarily affects your sales team, it can inform the activities of your business development reps. A sales plan can help them understand where the business needs growth — whether it’s in a new vertical, a new audience, or a new need that’s recently come to light in the industry.
Not sure how to create a sales plan? Download the following template to get started.
Featured Resource: Sales Plan Template
8. Implement a social listening strategy.
While social listening is mainly used in a marketing and customer service context, it’s also an essential practice for business development. There are more than 4 billion social media users worldwide. Naturally, social media is one of the best places to hear directly from consumers and businesses — without needing to reach out to them first.
In business development, you can use social listening to track what the general public is saying about your brand, industry, product offerings, product category, and more. It can help you identify key weaknesses in the industry, making it a prime opportunity to be the first to address those pitfalls.
Use a social listening tool to pick up on trends before they gain traction.
9. Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.
A key facet of business development is reaching potential customers where they are. One of the easiest ways to do that is by sponsoring industry organizations, conferences, and events. This strategy will guarantee that your business development reps get valuable face-to-face time with your business’ target audience. The additional visibility can also help establish your business as a leader in the field.
Now that you understand what business development entails, it's time to create a plan to set your strategy in motion.
How to Develop a Strategic Plan
When we refer to a business development strategic plan, we’re referring to a roadmap that guides the whole company and requires everyone’s assistance to execute successfully and move your customer through the flywheel . With a plan, you’ll close more deals and quantify success.
Let’s go over the steps you should take to create a strategic plan.
1. Download our strategic plan template .
First, download our free growth strategy template to create a rock-solid strategic plan. With this template, you can map a growth plan for increasing sales, revenue, and customer acquisition rates. You can also create action plans for adding new locations, creating new product lines, and expanding into new regions.
Featured Resource: Strategic Plan Template
2. Craft your elevator pitch.
What is your company’s mission and how do you explain it to potential clients in 30 seconds or less? Keeping your elevator pitch at the forefront of all strategic planning will remind everyone what you’re working toward and why.
Some people believe the best pitch isn’t a pitch at all , but a story. Others have their favorite types of pitches , from a one-word pitch to a Twitter pitch that forces you to boil down your elevator pitch to just 280 characters.
Find the elevator pitch that works best for your reps, company, and offer, and document it in your business development strategy.
3. Include an executive summary.
You’ll share your strategic plan with executives and maybe even board members, so it’s important they have a high-level overview to skim. Pick the most salient points from your strategic plan and list or summarize them here.
You might already have an executive summary for your company if you’ve written a business proposal or value proposition . Use this as a jumping off point but create one that’s unique to your business development goals and priorities.
Once your executives have read your summary, they should have a pretty good idea of your direction for growing the business — without having to read the rest of your strategy.
3. Set SMART goals.
What are your goals for this strategy? If you don’t know, it will be difficult for your company and team to align behind your plan. So, set SMART goals . Remember, SMART stands for:
Featured Resource: SMART Goal Setting Template
Download the template now.
If one of your goals is for 5% of monthly revenue to come from upsells or cross-sells, make this goal specific by identifying what types of clients you’ll target.
Identify how you’ll measure success. Is success when reps conduct upsell outreach to 30 clients every month, or is it when they successfully upsell a customer and close the deal? To make your goal attainable, ensure everyone on your team understands who is responsible for this goal: in this case, sales or business development reps.
This goal is relevant because it will help your company grow, and likely contributes to larger company-wide goals. To make it time-based, set a timeline for success and action. In this case, your sales team must achieve that 5% upsell/cross-sell number by the end of the quarter.
4. Conduct SWOT analysis.
SWOT is a strategic planning technique used to identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Before conducting a SWOT, identify what your goal is. For example, “We’d like to use SWOT to learn how best to conduct outreach to prospective buyers.”
Once you’ve identified what you’re working toward, conduct market research by talking with your staff, business partners, and customers.
Next, identify your business’ strengths. Perhaps you have low employee turnover, a central location that makes it easy to visit with prospects in person, or an in-demand feature your competitors haven’t been able to mimic.
Featured Resource: Market Research Kit with SWOT Analysis Template
Your business’ weaknesses are next. Has your product recently glitched? Have you been unable to successfully build out a customer service team that can meet the demands of your customers?
Then, switch to opportunities. For example, have you made a new business partnership that will transition you into a previously untapped market segment?
What are the threats? Is your physical space getting crowded? What about your market space? Is increasing competition an issue?
Use SWOT results to identify a better way forward for your company.
5. Determine how you’ll measure success.
You’ve identified strengths and weaknesses and set SMART goals , but how will you measure it all ? It’s important for your team to know just how they will be measured, goaled, and rewarded. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) for business development include:
- Company growth
- Lead conversion rate
- Leads generated per month
- Client satisfaction
- Pipeline value
6. Set a budget.
What will your budget be for achieving your goals? Review financial documents, historical budgets, and operational estimates to set a budget that’s realistic.
Once you have a “draft” budget, check it against other businesses in your industry and region to make sure you’re not overlooking or misjudging any numbers. Don’t forget to factor in payroll, facilities costs, insurance, and other operational line items that tend to add up.
7. Identify your target customer.
Who will your business development team pursue? Your target market is the group of customers your product/service was built for. For example, if you sell a suite of products for facilities teams at enterprise-level companies, your target market might be facilities or janitorial coordinators at companies with 1000+ employees. To identify your target market:
- Analyze your product or service
- Check out the competition
- Choose criteria to segment by
- Perform research
Your target customer is the person most likely to buy your product. Do your homework and make sure your business development plan addresses the right people. Only then will you be able to grow your business.
8. Choose an outreach strategy.
What tactics will you use to attract new business for your sales team to close? You might focus on a single tactic or a blend of a few. Once you know who your target market is and where they “hang out,” then you can choose an appropriate outreach strategy.
Will your business development plan rely heavily on thought leadership such as speaking at or attending conferences? Will you host a local meetup for others in your industry? Or will your reps network heavily on LinkedIn and social media?
If referrals will be pivotal to your business’ growth, consider at which stage of the buying process your BDRs will ask for referrals. Will you ask for a referral even if a prospect decides they like your product/service but aren’t a good fit? Or will you wait until a customer has been using your solution for a few months? Define these parameters in your strategy.
Upselling and Cross-Selling
Upselling and cross-selling are a cost-effective way of growing your business. But it’s important that this tactic is used with guardrails. Only upsell clients on features that will benefit them as well as your bottom line. Don’t bloat client accounts with features or services they really don’t need — that’s when turnover and churn start to happen.
Sponsorship and Advertising
Will your BDR work with or be on the marketing team to develop paid advertising campaigns? If so, how will your BDRs support these campaigns? And which channels will your strategy include? If you sell a product, you might want to feature heavily on Instagram or Facebook. If you’re selling a SaaS platform, LinkedIn or Twitter might be more appropriate.
What’s your outreach strategy? Will your BDRs be held to a quota to make 25 calls a week and send 15 emails? Will your outreach strategy be inbound , outbound , or a healthy combination of both? Identify the outreach guardrails that best match your company values for doing business.
Strategic Plan Example
Let’s put all of these moving parts in action with a strategic plan example featuring good ol’ Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
Elevator Pitch Example for Strategic Plan
Dunder Mifflin is a local paper company dedicated to providing excellent customer support and the paper your business needs to excel today and grow tomorrow.
Here are some additional resources for inspiration:
- Elevator Pitch Examples to Inspire Your Own
- Components of an Elevator Pitch
Executive Summary Example for Strategic Plan
At Dunder Mifflin, our strengths are our customer service, speed of delivery, and our local appeal. Our weakness is that our sales cycle is too long.
To shorten the sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4, we need to ask for more referrals (which already enjoy a 15% faster sales cycle), sponsor local professional events, and outreach to big box store customers who suffer from poor customer support and are more likely to exit their contract. These tactics should allow us to meet our goal in the agreed-upon timeline.
- How to Write an Incredibly Well-Written Executive Summary [+ Example]
- Executive Summary Template
SMART Goals Example for Strategic Plan
Dunder Mifflin’s goal is to decrease our sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4. We will do this by more proactively scheduling follow-up meetings, sourcing more qualified, ready-to-buy leads, and asking for 25% more referrals (which have a 15% shorter sales cycle already). We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.
- 5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [Examples]
- How to Write a SMART Goal
- SMART Marketing Goals Template
SWOT Analysis Example for Strategic Plan
Strengths: Our strengths are our reputation in the greater Scranton area, our customer service team (led by Kelly Kapoor), and our warehouse team, who ship same-day reams to our customers — something the big box stores cannot offer.
Weaknesses: Our greatest weakness is that our sales team has been unable to successfully counter prospects who choose big box stores for their paper supply. This results in a longer-than-average sales cycle, which costs money and time.
Opportunities: Our greatest business opportunity is to conduct better-targeted outreach to prospects who are ready to buy, ask for more referrals from existing customers, and follow up with closed lost business that’s likely coming up on the end of an annual contract with a big box store.
Threats: Our biggest threat is large box stores offering lower prices to our prospects and customers and a sales cycle that is too long, resulting in low revenue and slow growth.
- How to Conduct Competitive Analysis
- How to Run a SWOT Analysis for Your Business [+ Template]
- SWOT Analysis Template and Market Research Kit
Measurement of Success Example for Strategic Plan
We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.
Budget Example for Strategic Plan
You've laid out the SMART goals and the way you'll measure for success. The budget section's goal is to estimate how much investment it will take to achieve those goals. This will likely end up being a big-picture overview, broken down into a budget by a program or a summary of key investments. Consider laying it out in a table format like so:
- Budgeting Templates
- How to Write an Incredible Startup Marketing Budget
Target Customer Example for Strategic Plan
Our target customer is office managers at small- to medium-sized companies in the greater Scranton, PA area. They are buying paper for the entire office, primarily for use in office printers, custom letterhead, fax machines. They are busy managing the office and value good customer service and a fast solution for their paper needs.
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- Make My Persona Tool
Outreach Strategy Example for Strategic Plan
Networking, sponsorships, and referrals will be our primary mode of outreach. We will focus on networking at regional paper conferences, HR conferences, and local office manager meetups. We will sponsor local professional events. And we will increase the volume of referrals we request from existing customers.
Create a Strategic Plan for Business Development
Without a strategic plan, you can invest resources, time, and funds into business development initiatives that won't grow your business. A strategic plan is crucial as it aligns your business development and sales teams. With a solid business development strategic plan, everyone will be working toward the greater good of your company.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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How to Develop a Small Business Financial Plan
By Andy Marker | April 29, 2022
Financial planning is critical for any successful small business, but the process can be complicated. To help you get started, we’ve created a step-by-step guide and rounded up top tips from experts.
Included on this page, you’ll find what to include in a financial plan , steps to develop one , and a downloadable starter kit .
What Is a Small Business Financial Plan?
A small business financial plan is an outline of the financial status of your business, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow information. A financial plan can help guide a small business toward sustainable growth.
Financial plans can aid in business goal setting and metrics tracking, as well as provide proof of profitable ideas. Craig Hewitt, Founder of Castos , shares that “creating a financial plan will show you if your business ideas are sustainable. A financial plan will show you where your business stands and help you make better decisions about resource allocation. It will also help you plan growth, survive cash flow shortages, and pitch to investors.”
Why Is It Important for a Small Business to Have a Financial Plan?
All small businesses should create a financial plan. This allows you to assess your business’s financial needs, recognize areas of opportunity, and project your growth over time. A strong financial plan is also a bonus for potential investors.
Mark Daoust , the President and CEO of Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc., explains why a financial plan is important for small businesses: “It can sometimes be difficult for business owners to evaluate their own progress, especially when starting a new company. A financial plan can be helpful in showing increased revenues, cash flow growth, and overall profit in quantifiable data. It's very encouraging for small business owners who are often working long hours and dealing with so many stressful decisions to know that they are on the right track.”
To learn more about other important considerations for a small business, peruse our list of free startup plan, budget, and cost templates .
What Does a Small Business Financial Plan Include?
All small businesses should include an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement in their financial plan. You may also include other documents, such as personnel plans, break-even points, and sales forecasts, depending on the business and industry.
- Balance Sheet: A balance sheet determines the difference between your liabilities and assets to determine your equity. “A balance sheet is a snapshot of a business’s financial position at a particular moment in time,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “It adds up everything your business owns and subtracts all debts — the difference reflects the net worth of the business, also referred to as equity .” Yüzbaşıoğlu explains that this statement consists of three parts: assets, liabilities, and equity. “Assets include your money in the bank, accounts receivable, inventories, and more. Liabilities can include your accounts payables, credit card balances, and loan repayments, for example. Equity for most small businesses is just the owner’s equity, but it could also include investors’ shares, retained earnings, or stock proceeds,” he says.
- Cash Flow Statement: A cash flow statement shows where the money is coming from and where it is going. For existing businesses, this will include bank statements that list deposits and expenditures. A new business may not have much cash flow information, but it can include all startup costs and funding sources. “A cash flow statement shows how much cash is generated and used during a given period of time. It documents all the money flowing in and out of your business,” explains Yüzbaşıoğlu.
- Break-Even Analysis: A break-even analysis is a projection of how long it will take you to recoup your investments, such as expenses from startup costs or ongoing projects. In order to perform this analysis, Yüzbaşıoğlu explains, “You need to know the difference between fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are the expenses that stay the same, regardless of how much you sell or don't sell. For example, expenses such as rent, wages, and accounting fees are typically fixed. Variable costs are the expenses that change in accordance with production or sales volume. “In other words, [a break-even analysis] determines the units of products or services you need to sell at least to cover your production costs. Generally, to calculate the break-even point in business, divide fixed costs by the gross profit margin. This produces a dollar figure that a company needs to break even,” Yüzbaşıoğlu shares.
- Personnel Plan: A personnel plan is an outline of various positions or departments that states what they do, why they are necessary, and how much they cost. This document is generally more useful for large businesses, or those that find themselves spending a large percentage of their budget on labor.
- Sales Forecast: A sales forecast can help determine how many sales and how much money you expect to make in a given time period. To learn more about various methods of predicting these figures, check out our guide to sales forecasting .
How to Write a Small Business Financial Plan
Writing a financial plan begins with collecting financial information from your small business. Create income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, and any other documents you need using that information. Then share those documents with relevant stakeholders.
“Creating a financial plan is key to any business and essential for success: It provides protection and an opportunity to grow,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “You can use [the financial plan] to make better-informed decisions about things like resource allocation on future projects and to help shape the success of your company.”
1. Create a Plan
Create a strategic business plan that includes your business strategy and goals, and define their financial impact. Your financial plan will inform decisions for every aspect of your business, so it is important to know what is important and what is at stake.
2. Gather Financial Information
Collect all of the available financial information about your business. Organize bank statements, loan information, sales numbers, inventory costs, payroll information, and any other income and expenses your business has incurred. If you have not already started to do so, regularly record all of this information and store it in an easily accessible place.
3. Create an Income Statement
Your income statement should display revenue, expenses, and profit for a given time period. Your revenue minus your expenses equals your profit or loss. Many businesses create a new statement yearly or quarterly, but small businesses with less cash flow may benefit from creating statements for shorter time frames.
4. Create a Balance Sheet
Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your business’s financial status at a particular moment in time. You should update it on the same schedule as your income statement. To determine your equity, calculate all of your assets minus your liabilities.
5. Create a Cash Flow Statement
As mentioned above, the cash flow statement shows all past and projected cash flow for your business. “Your cash flow statement needs to cover three sections: operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities,” suggests Hewitt. “Operating activities are the movement of cash from the sale or purchase of goods or services. Investing activities are the sale or purchase of long-term assets. Financing activities are transactions with creditors and investments.”
6. Create Other Documents as Needed
Depending on the age, size, and industry of your business, you may find it useful to include these other documents in your financial plan as well.
- Sales Forecast: Your sales forecast should reference sales numbers from your past to estimate sales numbers for your future. Sales forecasts may be more useful for established companies with historical numbers to compare to, but small businesses can use forecasts to set goals and break records month over month. “To make future financial projections, start with a sales forecast,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “Project your sales over the course of 12 months. After projecting sales, calculate your cost of sales (also called cost of goods or direct costs). This will let you calculate gross margin. Gross margin is sales less the cost of sales, and it's a useful number for comparing with different standard industry ratios.”
7. Save the Plan for Reference and Share as Needed
The most important part of a financial plan is sharing it with stakeholders. You can also use much of the same information in your financial plan to create a budget for your small business.
Additionally, be sure to conduct regular reviews, as things will inevitably change. “My best tip for small businesses when creating a financial plan is to schedule reviews. Once you have your plan in place, it is essential that you review it often and compare how well the strategy fits with the actual monthly expenses. This will help you adjust your plan accordingly and prepare for the year ahead,” suggests Janet Patterson, Loan and Finance Expert at Highway Title Loans.
Small Business Financial Plan Example
Download Small Business Financial Plan Example Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets
Here is an example of what a completed small business financial plan dashboard might look like. Once you have completed your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements, use a template to create visual graphs to display the information to make it easier to read and share. In this example, this small business plots its income and cash flow statements quarterly, but you may find it valuable to update yours more often.
Small Business Financial Plan Starter Kit
Download Small Business Financial Plan Starter Kit
We’ve created this small business financial plan starter kit to help you get organized and complete your financial plan. In this kit, you will find a fully customizable income statement template, a balance sheet template, a cash flow statement template, and a dashboard template to display results. We have also included templates for break-even analysis, a personnel plan, and sales forecasts to meet your ongoing financial planning needs.
Small Business Income Statement Template
Download Small Business Income Statement Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets
Use this small business income statement template to input your income information and track your growth over time. This template is filled to track by the year, but you can also track by months or quarters. The template is fully customizable to suit your business needs.
Small Business Balance Sheet Template
Download Small Business Balance Sheet Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets
This customizable balance sheet template was created with small businesses in mind. Use it to create a snapshot of your company’s assets, liabilities, and equity quarter over quarter.
Small Business Cash Flow Statement Template
Download Small Business Cash Flow Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets
Use this customizable cash flow statement template to stay organized when documenting your cash flow. Note the time frame and input all of your financial data in the appropriate cell. With this information, the template will automatically generate your total cash payments, net cash change, and ending cash position.
Break-Even Analysis Template
Download Break-Even Analysis Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets
This powerful template can help you determine the point at which you will break even on product investment. Input the sale price of the product, as well as its various associated costs, and this template will display the number of units needed to break even on your initial costs.
Personnel Plan Template
Download Personnel Plan Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets
Use this simple personnel plan template to help organize and define the monetary cost of the various roles or departments within your company. This template will generate a labor cost total that you can use to compare roles and determine whether you need to make cuts or identify areas for growth.
Sales Forecast Template
Download Sales Forecast Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets
Use this customizable template to forecast your sales month over month and determine the percentage changes. You can use this template to set goals and track sales history as well.
Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template
Download Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets
This dashboard template provides a visual example of a small business financial plan. It presents the information from your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in a graphical form that is easy to read and share.
Tips for Completing a Financial Plan for a Small Business
You can simplify the development of your small business financial plan in many ways, from outlining your goals to considering where you may need help. We’ve outlined a few tips from our experts below:
- Outline Your Business Goals: Before you create a financial plan, outline your business goals. This will help you determine where money is being well spent to achieve those goals and where it may not be. “Before applying for financing or investment, list the expected business goals for the next three to five years. You can ask a certified public accountant for help in this regard,” says Thé. The U.S. Small Business Administration or a local small business development center can also help you to understand the local market and important factors for business success. For more help, check out our quick how-to guide on writing a business plan .
- Make Sure You Have the Right Permits and Insurance: One of the best ways to keep your financial plan on track is to anticipate large expenditures. Double- and triple-check that you have the permits and insurances you need so that you do not incur any fines or surprise expenses down the line. “If you own your own business, you're no longer able to count on your employer for your insurance needs. It's important to have a plan for how you're going to pay for this additional expense and make sure that you know what specific insurance you need to cover your business,” suggests Daost.
- Separate Personal Goals from Business Goals: Be as unbiased as possible when creating and laying out your business’s financial goals. Your financial and prestige goals as a business owner may be loftier than what your business can currently achieve in the present. Inflating sales forecasts or income numbers will only come back to bite you in the end.
- Consider Hiring Help: You don’t know what you don’t know, but fortunately, many financial experts are ready to help you. “Hiring financial advisors can help you make sound financial decisions for your business and create a financial roadmap to follow. Many businesses fail in the first few years due to poor planning, which leads to costly mistakes. Having a financial advisor can help keep your business alive, make a profit, and thrive,” says Hewitt.
- Include Less Obvious Expenses: No income or expense is too small to consider — it all matters when you are creating your financial plan. “I wish I had known that you’re supposed to incorporate anticipated internal hidden expenses in the plan as well,” Patterson shares. “I formulated my first financial plan myself and didn’t have enough knowledge back then. Hence, I missed out on essential expenses, like office maintenance, that are less common.”
Do Small Business Owners Need a Financial Planner?
Not all small business owners need a designated financial planner, but you should understand the documents and information that make up a financial plan. If you do not hire an advisor, you must be informed about your own finances.
Small business owners tend to wear many hats, but Powell says, “it depends on the organization of the owner and their experience with the financial side of operating businesses.” Hiring a financial advisor can take some tasks off your plate and save you time to focus on the many other details that need your attention. Financial planners are experts in their field and may have more intimate knowledge of market trends and changing tax information that can end up saving you money in the long run.
Yüzbaşıoğlu adds, “Small business owners can greatly benefit from working with a financial advisor. A successful small business often requires more than just the skills of an entrepreneur; a financial advisor can help the company effectively manage risks and maximize opportunities.”
For more examples of the tasks a financial planner might be able to help with, check through our list of free financial planning templates .
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- 11.4 The Business Plan
- 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
- 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
- 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
- Review Questions
- Discussion Questions
- Case Questions
- Suggested Resources
- 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
- 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
- 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
- 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
- 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
- 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
- 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
- 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
- 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
- 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
- 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
- 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
- 5.3 Competitive Analysis
- 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
- 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
- 6.3 Design Thinking
- 6.4 Lean Processes
- 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
- 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
- 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
- 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
- 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
- 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
- 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
- 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
- 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
- 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
- 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
- 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
- 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
- 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
- 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
- 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
- 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
- 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
- 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
- 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
- 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
- 11.2 Designing the Business Model
- 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
- 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
- 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
- 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
- 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
- 13.2 Corporations
- 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
- 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
- 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
- 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
- 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
- 14.1 Types of Resources
- 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
- 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
- 15.1 Launching Your Venture
- 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
- 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
- 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
- 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
- A | Suggested Resources
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Describe the different purposes of a business plan
- Describe and develop the components of a brief business plan
- Describe and develop the components of a full business plan
Unlike the brief or lean formats introduced so far, the business plan is a formal document used for the long-range planning of a company’s operation. It typically includes background information, financial information, and a summary of the business. Investors nearly always request a formal business plan because it is an integral part of their evaluation of whether to invest in a company. Although nothing in business is permanent, a business plan typically has components that are more “set in stone” than a business model canvas , which is more commonly used as a first step in the planning process and throughout the early stages of a nascent business. A business plan is likely to describe the business and industry, market strategies, sales potential, and competitive analysis, as well as the company’s long-term goals and objectives. An in-depth formal business plan would follow at later stages after various iterations to business model canvases. The business plan usually projects financial data over a three-year period and is typically required by banks or other investors to secure funding. The business plan is a roadmap for the company to follow over multiple years.
Some entrepreneurs prefer to use the canvas process instead of the business plan, whereas others use a shorter version of the business plan, submitting it to investors after several iterations. There are also entrepreneurs who use the business plan earlier in the entrepreneurial process, either preceding or concurrently with a canvas. For instance, Chris Guillebeau has a one-page business plan template in his book The $100 Startup . 48 His version is basically an extension of a napkin sketch without the detail of a full business plan. As you progress, you can also consider a brief business plan (about two pages)—if you want to support a rapid business launch—and/or a standard business plan.
As with many aspects of entrepreneurship, there are no clear hard and fast rules to achieving entrepreneurial success. You may encounter different people who want different things (canvas, summary, full business plan), and you also have flexibility in following whatever tool works best for you. Like the canvas, the various versions of the business plan are tools that will aid you in your entrepreneurial endeavor.
Business Plan Overview
Most business plans have several distinct sections ( Figure 11.16 ). The business plan can range from a few pages to twenty-five pages or more, depending on the purpose and the intended audience. For our discussion, we’ll describe a brief business plan and a standard business plan. If you are able to successfully design a business model canvas, then you will have the structure for developing a clear business plan that you can submit for financial consideration.
Both types of business plans aim at providing a picture and roadmap to follow from conception to creation. If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept.
The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, dealing with the proverbial devil in the details. Developing a full business plan will assist those of you who need a more detailed and structured roadmap, or those of you with little to no background in business. The business planning process includes the business model, a feasibility analysis, and a full business plan, which we will discuss later in this section. Next, we explore how a business plan can meet several different needs.
Purposes of a Business Plan
A business plan can serve many different purposes—some internal, others external. As we discussed previously, you can use a business plan as an internal early planning device, an extension of a napkin sketch, and as a follow-up to one of the canvas tools. A business plan can be an organizational roadmap , that is, an internal planning tool and working plan that you can apply to your business in order to reach your desired goals over the course of several years. The business plan should be written by the owners of the venture, since it forces a firsthand examination of the business operations and allows them to focus on areas that need improvement.
Refer to the business venture throughout the document. Generally speaking, a business plan should not be written in the first person.
A major external purpose for the business plan is as an investment tool that outlines financial projections, becoming a document designed to attract investors. In many instances, a business plan can complement a formal investor’s pitch. In this context, the business plan is a presentation plan, intended for an outside audience that may or may not be familiar with your industry, your business, and your competitors.
You can also use your business plan as a contingency plan by outlining some “what-if” scenarios and exploring how you might respond if these scenarios unfold. Pretty Young Professional launched in November 2010 as an online resource to guide an emerging generation of female leaders. The site focused on recent female college graduates and current students searching for professional roles and those in their first professional roles. It was founded by four friends who were coworkers at the global consultancy firm McKinsey. But after positions and equity were decided among them, fundamental differences of opinion about the direction of the business emerged between two factions, according to the cofounder and former CEO Kathryn Minshew . “I think, naively, we assumed that if we kicked the can down the road on some of those things, we’d be able to sort them out,” Minshew said. Minshew went on to found a different professional site, The Muse , and took much of the editorial team of Pretty Young Professional with her. 49 Whereas greater planning potentially could have prevented the early demise of Pretty Young Professional, a change in planning led to overnight success for Joshua Esnard and The Cut Buddy team. Esnard invented and patented the plastic hair template that he was selling online out of his Fort Lauderdale garage while working a full-time job at Broward College and running a side business. Esnard had hundreds of boxes of Cut Buddies sitting in his home when he changed his marketing plan to enlist companies specializing in making videos go viral. It worked so well that a promotional video for the product garnered 8 million views in hours. The Cut Buddy sold over 4,000 products in a few hours when Esnard only had hundreds remaining. Demand greatly exceeded his supply, so Esnard had to scramble to increase manufacturing and offered customers two-for-one deals to make up for delays. This led to selling 55,000 units, generating $700,000 in sales in 2017. 50 After appearing on Shark Tank and landing a deal with Daymond John that gave the “shark” a 20-percent equity stake in return for $300,000, The Cut Buddy has added new distribution channels to include retail sales along with online commerce. Changing one aspect of a business plan—the marketing plan—yielded success for The Cut Buddy.
Link to Learning
Watch this video of Cut Buddy’s founder, Joshua Esnard, telling his company’s story to learn more.
If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept. This version is used to interest potential investors, employees, and other stakeholders, and will include a financial summary “box,” but it must have a disclaimer, and the founder/entrepreneur may need to have the people who receive it sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) . The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, providing supporting details, and would be required by financial institutions and others as they formally become stakeholders in the venture. Both are aimed at providing a picture and roadmap to go from conception to creation.
Types of Business Plans
The brief business plan is similar to an extended executive summary from the full business plan. This concise document provides a broad overview of your entrepreneurial concept, your team members, how and why you will execute on your plans, and why you are the ones to do so. You can think of a brief business plan as a scene setter or—since we began this chapter with a film reference—as a trailer to the full movie. The brief business plan is the commercial equivalent to a trailer for Field of Dreams , whereas the full plan is the full-length movie equivalent.
Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary
As the name implies, the brief business plan or executive summary summarizes key elements of the entire business plan, such as the business concept, financial features, and current business position. The executive summary version of the business plan is your opportunity to broadly articulate the overall concept and vision of the company for yourself, for prospective investors, and for current and future employees.
A typical executive summary is generally no longer than a page, but because the brief business plan is essentially an extended executive summary, the executive summary section is vital. This is the “ask” to an investor. You should begin by clearly stating what you are asking for in the summary.
In the business concept phase, you’ll describe the business, its product, and its markets. Describe the customer segment it serves and why your company will hold a competitive advantage. This section may align roughly with the customer segments and value-proposition segments of a canvas.
Next, highlight the important financial features, including sales, profits, cash flows, and return on investment. Like the financial portion of a feasibility analysis, the financial analysis component of a business plan may typically include items like a twelve-month profit and loss projection, a three- or four-year profit and loss projection, a cash-flow projection, a projected balance sheet, and a breakeven calculation. You can explore a feasibility study and financial projections in more depth in the formal business plan. Here, you want to focus on the big picture of your numbers and what they mean.
The current business position section can furnish relevant information about you and your team members and the company at large. This is your opportunity to tell the story of how you formed the company, to describe its legal status (form of operation), and to list the principal players. In one part of the extended executive summary, you can cover your reasons for starting the business: Here is an opportunity to clearly define the needs you think you can meet and perhaps get into the pains and gains of customers. You also can provide a summary of the overall strategic direction in which you intend to take the company. Describe the company’s mission, vision, goals and objectives, overall business model, and value proposition.
Rice University’s Student Business Plan Competition, one of the largest and overall best-regarded graduate school business-plan competitions (see Telling Your Entrepreneurial Story and Pitching the Idea ), requires an executive summary of up to five pages to apply. 51 , 52 Its suggested sections are shown in Table 11.2 .
Are You Ready?
Create a brief business plan.
Fill out a canvas of your choosing for a well-known startup: Uber, Netflix, Dropbox, Etsy, Airbnb, Bird/Lime, Warby Parker, or any of the companies featured throughout this chapter or one of your choice. Then create a brief business plan for that business. See if you can find a version of the company’s actual executive summary, business plan, or canvas. Compare and contrast your vision with what the company has articulated.
- These companies are well established but is there a component of what you charted that you would advise the company to change to ensure future viability?
- Map out a contingency plan for a “what-if” scenario if one key aspect of the company or the environment it operates in were drastically is altered?
Full Business Plan
Even full business plans can vary in length, scale, and scope. Rice University sets a ten-page cap on business plans submitted for the full competition. The IndUS Entrepreneurs , one of the largest global networks of entrepreneurs, also holds business plan competitions for students through its Tie Young Entrepreneurs program. In contrast, business plans submitted for that competition can usually be up to twenty-five pages. These are just two examples. Some components may differ slightly; common elements are typically found in a formal business plan outline. The next section will provide sample components of a full business plan for a fictional business.
The executive summary should provide an overview of your business with key points and issues. Because the summary is intended to summarize the entire document, it is most helpful to write this section last, even though it comes first in sequence. The writing in this section should be especially concise. Readers should be able to understand your needs and capabilities at first glance. The section should tell the reader what you want and your “ask” should be explicitly stated in the summary.
Describe your business, its product or service, and the intended customers. Explain what will be sold, who it will be sold to, and what competitive advantages the business has. Table 11.3 shows a sample executive summary for the fictional company La Vida Lola.
This section describes the industry, your product, and the business and success factors. It should provide a current outlook as well as future trends and developments. You also should address your company’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Summarize your overall strategic direction, your reasons for starting the business, a description of your products and services, your business model, and your company’s value proposition. Consider including the Standard Industrial Classification/North American Industry Classification System (SIC/NAICS) code to specify the industry and insure correct identification. The industry extends beyond where the business is located and operates, and should include national and global dynamics. Table 11.4 shows a sample business description for La Vida Lola.
Industry Analysis and Market Strategies
Here you should define your market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential. You’ll want to include your TAM and forecast the SAM . (Both these terms are discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis .) This is a place to address market segmentation strategies by geography, customer attributes, or product orientation. Describe your positioning relative to your competitors’ in terms of pricing, distribution, promotion plan, and sales potential. Table 11.5 shows an example industry analysis and market strategy for La Vida Lola.
The competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy as it relates to the competition. You want to be able to identify who are your major competitors and assess what are their market shares, markets served, strategies employed, and expected response to entry? You likely want to conduct a classic SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and complete a competitive-strength grid or competitive matrix. Outline your company’s competitive strengths relative to those of the competition in regard to product, distribution, pricing, promotion, and advertising. What are your company’s competitive advantages and their likely impacts on its success? The key is to construct it properly for the relevant features/benefits (by weight, according to customers) and how the startup compares to incumbents. The competitive matrix should show clearly how and why the startup has a clear (if not currently measurable) competitive advantage. Some common features in the example include price, benefits, quality, type of features, locations, and distribution/sales. Sample templates are shown in Figure 11.17 and Figure 11.18 . A competitive analysis helps you create a marketing strategy that will identify assets or skills that your competitors are lacking so you can plan to fill those gaps, giving you a distinct competitive advantage. When creating a competitor analysis, it is important to focus on the key features and elements that matter to customers, rather than focusing too heavily on the entrepreneur’s idea and desires.
Operations and Management Plan
In this section, outline how you will manage your company. Describe its organizational structure. Here you can address the form of ownership and, if warranted, include an organizational chart/structure. Highlight the backgrounds, experiences, qualifications, areas of expertise, and roles of members of the management team. This is also the place to mention any other stakeholders, such as a board of directors or advisory board(s), and their relevant relationship to the founder, experience and value to help make the venture successful, and professional service firms providing management support, such as accounting services and legal counsel.
Table 11.6 shows a sample operations and management plan for La Vida Lola.
Here you should outline and describe an effective overall marketing strategy for your venture, providing details regarding pricing, promotion, advertising, distribution, media usage, public relations, and a digital presence. Fully describe your sales management plan and the composition of your sales force, along with a comprehensive and detailed budget for the marketing plan. Table 11.7 shows a sample marketing plan for La Vida Lola.
A financial plan seeks to forecast revenue and expenses; project a financial narrative; and estimate project costs, valuations, and cash flow projections. This section should present an accurate, realistic, and achievable financial plan for your venture (see Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting for detailed discussions about conducting these projections). Include sales forecasts and income projections, pro forma financial statements ( Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team , a breakeven analysis, and a capital budget. Identify your possible sources of financing (discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis ). Figure 11.19 shows a template of cash-flow needs for La Vida Lola.
Entrepreneur In Action
Laughing man coffee.
Hugh Jackman ( Figure 11.20 ) may best be known for portraying a comic-book superhero who used his mutant abilities to protect the world from villains. But the Wolverine actor is also working to make the planet a better place for real, not through adamantium claws but through social entrepreneurship.
A love of java jolted Jackman into action in 2009, when he traveled to Ethiopia with a Christian humanitarian group to shoot a documentary about the impact of fair-trade certification on coffee growers there. He decided to launch a business and follow in the footsteps of the late Paul Newman, another famous actor turned philanthropist via food ventures.
Jackman launched Laughing Man Coffee two years later; he sold the line to Keurig in 2015. One Laughing Man Coffee café in New York continues to operate independently, investing its proceeds into charitable programs that support better housing, health, and educational initiatives within fair-trade farming communities. 55 Although the New York location is the only café, the coffee brand is still distributed, with Keurig donating an undisclosed portion of Laughing Man proceeds to those causes (whereas Jackman donates all his profits). The company initially donated its profits to World Vision, the Christian humanitarian group Jackman accompanied in 2009. In 2017, it created the Laughing Man Foundation to be more active with its money management and distribution.
- You be the entrepreneur. If you were Jackman, would you have sold the company to Keurig? Why or why not?
- Would you have started the Laughing Man Foundation?
- What else can Jackman do to aid fair-trade practices for coffee growers?
What Can You Do?
Textbooks for change.
Founded in 2014, Textbooks for Change uses a cross-compensation model, in which one customer segment pays for a product or service, and the profit from that revenue is used to provide the same product or service to another, underserved segment. Textbooks for Change partners with student organizations to collect used college textbooks, some of which are re-sold while others are donated to students in need at underserved universities across the globe. The organization has reused or recycled 250,000 textbooks, providing 220,000 students with access through seven campus partners in East Africa. This B-corp social enterprise tackles a problem and offers a solution that is directly relevant to college students like yourself. Have you observed a problem on your college campus or other campuses that is not being served properly? Could it result in a social enterprise?
Work It Out
Franchisee set out.
A franchisee of East Coast Wings, a chain with dozens of restaurants in the United States, has decided to part ways with the chain. The new store will feature the same basic sports-bar-and-restaurant concept and serve the same basic foods: chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The new restaurant can’t rely on the same distributors and suppliers. A new business plan is needed.
- What steps should the new restaurant take to create a new business plan?
- Should it attempt to serve the same customers? Why or why not?
This New York Times video, “An Unlikely Business Plan,” describes entrepreneurial resurgence in Detroit, Michigan.
- 48 Chris Guillebeau. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2012.
- 49 Jonathan Chan. “What These 4 Startup Case Studies Can Teach You about Failure.” Foundr.com . July 12, 2015. https://foundr.com/4-startup-case-studies-failure/
- 50 Amy Feldman. “Inventor of the Cut Buddy Paid YouTubers to Spark Sales. He Wasn’t Ready for a Video to Go Viral.” Forbes. February 15, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestreptalks/2017/02/15/inventor-of-the-cut-buddy-paid-youtubers-to-spark-sales-he-wasnt-ready-for-a-video-to-go-viral/#3eb540ce798a
- 51 Jennifer Post. “National Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs.” Business News Daily . August 30, 2018. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6902-business-plan-competitions-entrepreneurs.html
- 52 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition . March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf
- 53 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition. March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf; Based on 2019 RBPC Competition Rules and Format April 4–6, 2019. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2019-RBPC-Competition-Rules%20-Format.pdf
- 54 Foodstart. http://foodstart.com
- 55 “Hugh Jackman Journey to Starting a Social Enterprise Coffee Company.” Giving Compass. April 8, 2018. https://givingcompass.org/article/hugh-jackman-journey-to-starting-a-social-enterprise-coffee-company/
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What is Financial planning in a business plan
If one is new to the field of business and entrepreneurship, then Finance is unquestionably the vital section of the business plan. Even if your ideas and innovations are important what matters the most at the end of the day is the marketing strategies and how much your vision can help in making an earning. Hence it is vital to explain your start-up with good figures which are done with the help of accurate numbers included in the business plans and briefing about it in such a way that genuinely makes your business more attractive and profitable to the investors.
What is a business plan?
In simple words, it is a guide for the company to achieve its goal. It is a written document that describes in detail how a business, especially a start-up , what are its objectives or how it is about to achieve its goal. This can be considered as a roadmap to success with detailed plans and budgets saying how they will be achieved. It lays a road map from marketing, financial and operating point of view as well.
Business plans are documents which are vital papers used to attract investors even before the company has shown a proven record. They do this by giving a vision to the investor and trying to convince them that their business idea is worth investing for. From that, there comes a firm assurance and hence the business idea is sound and has every chance of success. For any newcomer, preparing a business plan is an important first step. It is this rigid milestone that will help the entry towards the path of success.
When you are about to begin a new venture, a business plan gives you a clear idea which in turn can determine whether your business idea is viable or not; that is, there is no point in business if there aren’t any chances of earning. A business plan is also a good way for companies to maintain a regular track.
We can also describe the business plan as a living document that you can use to prove two sources as it shows that one’s dreams are no longer just a dream but can be made into a viable reality. In the majority of cases, the main barrier in commencing a business is the fact that they don’t have enough money to be in the business or to start the business they wish to begin. In the case of start-ups, a ready business plan is essential to show potential investors how the proposed business can bring profit.
What is Financial Plan ?
In the world of start-ups, the importance of perfect business planning is beyond explanation. Plan length of business is different for different businesses. As mentioned no two businesses have the same sort of plans but they all have the same elements from which financial planning can be considered as a vital key in the making of a business plan.
A financial plan is a document containing the current money situation and long term goals of an individual as well as the strategies for achieving the goals. A financial plan can be done independently or with the help of a specialist who is a certified financial planner where he will have a deep evaluation of the person’s current financial state and ,future goals and expectations.
It gives you a clear picture of current finances and how it can be utilised to achieve your goals. This is also a process which will reduce the amount of stress about money and help you to set a long term goal. It is very important as it shows how to make use of your assets in an orderly manner.
The main purpose of financial planning is that it helps you to make strong business decisions about what are the resources that the company requires and what are the strategies that the company needs to be successful. It helps to obtain necessary financing, thus helping it grow.
Financial Planning can be explained with six steps:-
1. Setting up of Financial Goals:-
The secret of a successful business is setting up proper financial goals.
2. Track your Money:-
Since the financial plan is a guide for good business flow, having an accurate idea about your savings or pay-downs is helpful to develop medium and long term plans.
3. Emergency expenses:-
Collecting cash for emergency expenses is the bedrock of the financial plan.
4. Investing your savings:-
Investing isn’t always meant for the rich alone. Building credit is another way to shock proof of your budget.
5. Have a check of high-interest debt:-
Sometimes it happens that the interest rates most of the time, we end up repaying 2 or 3 times what we have actually borrowed. Paying down the ‘toxic’ high-interest debt like title loans,rent-to-own payment, credit card balances etc. are the crucial steps in any financial plan.
6. Setting up of a moat:-
It is essential to build a moat to protect you and your family from financial setbacks. Financial moats can be improved by:-
- Retirement accounts should be increased
- Padding your emergency fund until you earn a constant profit.
- By using insurance so that a sudden illness or accident can alter you thus, ensuring financial stability.
Financial planning is at the heart of all successful business ventures. As mentioned earlier, it consists of details of statement and financial projections, forming the overall core of your business plan. Financial planning is supposed to be completed within a year and revised monthly for better results. In addition to impressing your investors that you are serious and knowledgeable with the business the financial planning allows them to evaluate :
•The short and long term prospects
• Profit potential
•Your company’s weakness as well as strengths
•Opportunities and challenges
•What type of financing can make your business successful
For a strong financial plan, there should be careful calculations and reliable numbers. If you are starting a new business then your financial plan should consist of:-
• Start-up costs
•Cash flow projection
•Projected Balance sheet
•Balance and income statement (if it isn’t a new business)
If you are about to start a business, first you are supposed to determine start-up costs. They are the first time expenditures that you have to spend before opening your business. It includes all costs such as furniture, supplies, equipment, renovations, license permits and incorporation fees; if necessary.
Cash flow projections
All the business activities, large or small depends on cash. Cash flow projections show the expected amount of money that you can earn in a business along with what will be spent on expenses It is the cash that you expect from sales.
Projection of cash flow projections
The first is to calculate how much revenue you expect to generate from the sales every month. For that:
- consider the best and worst.
- reach to the clients who can repay loan on a regular-schedule basis
- set a credit policy .
- which bills should be delayed and what to be paid. The projections must be completed on an ongoing basis.
It shows your actual business expenses and revenues, the difference between the net profit over some time it sometimes often referred to as profit and loss statement or an operating statement.
From a regular check-in, the projected income statement (at least every three months) can help you identify an emerging problem in your business.
It is a snapshot record which contains all the details of what your business assets (owns) are or on as well as its liabilities (owes). Assets can be money, property, vehicle, inventory etc. The projected balance sheet is what predicts the net worth of your business over a specific period in future. It should be from at least one year to three years into the future
It is a useful tool which calculates at what point your company will be able to make a profit . This is where the total costs equal total revenues. It is based on three factors:- Selling price, fixed cost and variable cost.
Methods Of Financing for Businesses
After you have completed financial statement, projections and calculations, you will have a clear idea on how to finance your business.
The two main financings are:-
- Equity Financing
The financing in which you and your partner put the money or raise from the investor’s for the business.
Equity financing is not a debt or loan, but the investors just share the profits or losses.
2. Debt Financing
With your equity capital, you are now in a position to approach lenders for a business loan. It is the money you borrow for business. Unlike equity financing, it should be repaid with interest over a specific period. The lenders won’t be getting the profit however, they must be repaid-with interest no matter whether the business is in profit or loss. The potential lenders include banks, credit unions , private investors, trust companies etc.
In the end, financial planning is a crucial step in mapping out a company’s financial future. In that sense, it is financial planning which gives clarity to your business plan and thus to one’s life!
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U.S. braces for costly government shutdown
Federal workers and military service members won’t be paid, while federal programs — from some food safety inspections to child-care funds — will come to an abrupt halt.
Millions of federal employees and active military service members will stop receiving paychecks — but many will be forced to report to work anyway.
Some national parks may close, museums could shutter and airports nationwide might see new disruptions and delays.
And the most pivotal federal aid programs — including those assisting the victims of the deadly wildfires in Maui — might not be able to provide urgently needed support.
On Oct. 1, the U.S. government is set to shut down , unleashing real and wide-ranging financial hardship on American families, workers and businesses. The lapse in funding would mark a fundamental breakdown in an ever-divided, intransigent Washington, where Republicans’ demands this year have prevented Congress — time and again — from easily fulfilling its most basic fiscal responsibilities.
In an ominous sign, the Biden administration on Friday took the first steps to prepare government agencies for a potential stoppage, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget told federal leaders to update their intricate blueprints for how they would operate if funds run dry, while it readied a draft communication that they could use to notify employees about the situation.
How a government shutdown could affect you
At the heart of the stalemate are renewed Republican calls for deep federal spending cuts, more than three months after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finalized a deal with President Biden that was supposed to prevent this very brinkmanship. Far-right lawmakers have blocked the House in recent days from adopting a short-term measure that would sustain federal spending at its existing levels and buy more time for the two parties to work out a longer-term arrangement.
If Congress does not resolve the impasse before midnight on Friday, federal appropriations will expire, bringing many agencies to a halt and forcing the sprawling U.S. government to operate as a mere shell of itself.
As usual, mail deliveries would continue and seniors would still receive their Social Security checks, because they are not funded through annual appropriations. But older Americans might not be able to obtain new Medicare cards or address some other issues with their benefits until federal funding resumes.
Some federal inspections that ensure food safety and prevent the release of hazardous chemicals in drinking water would be halted, the Biden administration has warned. Federal research toward cancer cures and other innovative therapies would cease. Some passport offices would close if they are located in affected government buildings, potentially snarling some Americans’ plans for international travel.
And with each passing day, Washington would further deplete federal safety-net programs that carry over their unused money from past years. Eventually, the government might not be able to provide some poor families with child care, nutrition assistance, housing vouchers or college financial aid. The longer a shutdown persists, the greater the blow it could ultimately deliver to an economy that has teetered for more than a year on the precipice of recession.
“The solution is very, very simple. Extreme House Republicans need to stop playing political games with people’s lives,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday. “There’s so much at stake here.”
Poor families could see cuts to food aid as Congress battles over budget
For the moment, Congress continues to barrel toward another fiscal crisis , in a year that has already seen the U.S. government almost default on its debt. Far-right Republicans have made clear that they are willing to use pivotal deadlines — and the threat of economic catastrophe — to extract policy concessions from Biden and, at times, pressure leaders of their own party. McCarthy has largely acquiesced to their demands, even directing committees this month to open an impeachment inquiry into Biden to appease restive conservatives.
Last week, House lawmakers departed the Capitol with seemingly no resolution in sight, raising the odds that the country is now less than a week away from what would be the 21st shutdown since 1977 , when the United States shifted the start of its fiscal year to Oct. 1. The heaviest initial blow would fall on about 2.2 million federal employees who would not receive pay for as long as appropriations lapse, said Jacqueline Simon, the policy director of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal workers.
“Most Americans cannot go without a paycheck on payday,” she said. “The vast majority of our members cannot go even one pay period, let alone two, three, four pay periods, without a paycheck.”
The immediate loss of income would arrive as prices remain elevated from high inflation over the past year, and just before the U.S. government is about to resume requiring borrowers to repay their student loans. Many federal workers would not have to report to their jobs, but the government is likely to deem hundreds of thousands of its employees as “excepted” from the shutdown because they deal with national security or public safety.
Even in a shutdown, the nation’s approximately 1.3 million active-duty troops would also helm their stations without pay. Once federal funding resumes, though, the government is required by law to repay federal employees and military personnel. Federal contractors, however, would not be compensated for missed time.
While the Pentagon retains broad latitude to continue programs in the name of national security, top defense officials in recent days have signaled that a shutdown next month could prove unusually disruptive — even inhibiting their ability to provide some foreign military aid. That includes the supply of select materiel to Ukraine as it continues to fend off Russia, which some House Republicans oppose.
Appearing on Sept. 19 on Capitol Hill, Mira Resnick, the deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security, stressed that previous shutdowns have left her agency “unable to process new foreign military sales for any partner,” except in emergencies, before imploring lawmakers: “This is something we would like to avoid.”
Biden seeks $16 billion in disaster aid as Idalia, wildfires deplete federal funds
The lapse in funding could prove just as debilitating for Americans outside of government, especially those who are still recovering from recent wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The primary federal fund for disaster recovery has fallen to about $2.4 billion, a level that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has described as unsustainable amid hurricane season. FEMA spent more than that — about $2.6 billion — just in the first 30 days after Hurricane Ian struck Florida last year.
Last month, FEMA took the rare step to begin rationing its money, pausing about $1.5 billion in longer-term recovery projects to ensure it has enough cash on hand in the event of a major, deadly crisis, said Deanne Criswell, the agency’s administrator . Asked what might happen if those funds approach zero without new appropriations, Criswell told lawmakers at a hearing last week that the consequences could be dire.
“Given our current state,” she said, the fund balance “would be insufficient to cover all of our ongoing lifesaving operations.”
What to do if a federal government shutdown stops your paycheck
The most recent interruption in federal funding occurred under President Donald Trump , a 34-day lapse in appropriations beginning in the waning hours of 2018 that marked the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Trump held up government funding into January 2019 in an attempt to force Democrats to fund construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Ultimately, Trump did not secure the money as part of a deal to reopen the government in January, at which point the shutdown had already incurred great economic cost. That month, a federal budget watchdog estimated that the political stalemate had delayed about $18 billion in government spending, while reducing gross domestic product by an estimated $8 billion that quarter and interrupting a vast swath of American life.
Nationally, air passengers at the time saw significant delays: Unpaid for a month, some inspectors at the Transportation Security Administration — the federal agents who check bags and protect flights — stopped coming to work “due to the financial toll of the shutdown,” a trio of top airline union groups said then . Four years later, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association renewed its plea for congressional action, warning last week that the last shutdown imperiled “safety activities that proactively reduce risk,” before adding: “We cannot let history repeat itself.”
The exact economic effects of a shutdown may not be immediately evident, because some of the federal officials who produce and release data about inflation and unemployment might stop work as well. But a lapse in funding beyond a few weeks — on top of rising interest rates and other economic turbulence — could result in a “meaningful hit to growth,” predicted Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
“None of this is any good for the economy,” he said.
Two years after lawmakers approved a bipartisan bill to rejuvenate the economy and improve the country’s infrastructure, a failure to fund the government would leave it temporarily unable to approve some projects to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and internet connections.
“It hamstrings federal agencies, and there are a lot of them doing infrastructure work,” said Maria Lehman, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “There’s uncertainty on ongoing projects, [and] new projects can’t get underway.”
The United States would slow down its efforts to inspect workplaces for safety hazards, according to the White House, while the government would not be able to process new applications for loans to cash-starved small businesses. And federal agencies would face escalating challenges in providing critical economic support to Americans under financial duress.
Roughly 10,000 children would lose access to child care starting in October as a result of disruptions to Head Start, a program that provides grants to care organizations, according to the White House, which released its own estimate of shutdown implications Wednesday. Without those grants, some of these child-care centers probably would shutter, leaving parents struggling to balance family and work obligations.
The loss of funding would worsen what is already expected to be a child-care crisis this fall. Even if Congress does fund the government in time, lawmakers are not expected to renew pandemic-era funding that boosted child-care programs. That could result in the closure of 70,000 child-care centers, totaling 1 in 3 nationally, starting next month, experts have said.
Child care is about to get more expensive, as federal funds dry up
At the start of any shutdown, the U.S. government could continue to pay out food stamps and other nutrition aid, provide housing vouchers to low-income families, and process financial aid for the neediest college students. But federal agencies in recent days have signaled that they may have to dial back this support after October if the shutdown spans weeks or longer.
One of the programs — a food-and-vegetable benefit for women, infants and children known as WIC — may only be able to sustain its operations for a few days if federal appropriations lapse, according to the Agriculture Department. That could put roughly 7 million pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5 at risk of benefit cuts that leave them hungry, the agency said Friday.
Some states, which manage WIC benefits, may have leftover funds that allow them to continue providing nutritional support even into a shutdown. But the relief is likely to prove short-lived, since the WIC program already faces a s ignificant budget shortfall, a gap that prompted the Biden administration this month to ask Congress for $1.4 billion in emergency aid.
Sharon Parrott, the president of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, pointed to the uncertainty as she acknowledged that millions of families could be at risk if congressional inaction causes a lengthy government shutdown.
“The longer a shutdown lasts,” she said, “the more problems would emerge.”
What to know about a possible government shutdown
The latest: On Wednesday, the odds of a government shutdown grew as House GOP leaders rejected the Senate’s spending bill, and House Republicans may imperil Ukraine funding . Here’s what to know about a possible government shutdown and see where federal employees live in the U.S.
What’s impacted by a shutdown? The FAA is facing a double government shutdown . Here’s how a shutdown would impact Medicare and Medicaid benefits as well as WIC and SNAP services . Here’s a federal worker’s shutdown survival guide and what to do if the shutdown stops your paycheck .
History of shutdowns: Which president had the most shutdowns? Here’s a look at the shortest and longest government shutdowns in U.S. history.