BUSINESS PLANNING – Where Growth Begins
Regardless of where a business is in its lifecycle stage there are significant benefits to a professional analysis of its market, product/service offering, operating economics and competitive environment. A CBV engagement represents a small investment compared the potential savings in money and time as well as reduced risk.
- A plan wherein business objectives have been validated by the realities of the marketplace is the single most important tool to unify an organization and communicate effectively.
- Bankers, investors or potential buyers require essential information about the business, its competitive environment, performance and financial prospects in a comprehensive and well-organized package.
- The most efficient method to uncover new business opportunities; enabling quick and fact-based decision making and the means to execute.
- The planning process itself challenges CEOs to think differently about their business and re-calibrate their vision, strategy or objectives.
The type of business plan depends on the business stage and circumstances:
Core Elements of The Business Plan:
- Strategic Vision – A concise statement of the opportunities the business is working within and an unfiltered assessment of the macro-market realities it faces.
- Market Fundamentals – Clear articulation of the need for the company’s solution, size of the market and whether that market is growing.
- The Solution – Presentation of how the product/service addresses the market need and how it’s different than what’s being offered today.
- Management – The experience and accomplishments of the management team and how the organization is positioned to deliver on its stated business milestones.
- Competitive Analysis – Identify competition and substitutes, why the company’s product/service is better and the sustainability of any competitive advantages.
- Pathway to Sales – Clear messaging of how sales will be generated including customer acquisition, pricing, distribution and potential for scale. By linking sales projections with market realities the CEO/Founder will have reliable guidance to measure progress and communicate a meaningful growth story.
- Budget & Financial Projections – Starting with what has been accomplished to date the numbers need to frame budget allocations, cash burn and a clear link between operating metrics and financial results. Financial Statements are usually only included with mid-stage funding projects.
- Amount of Funding: What is the “Ask” and how will funds be allocated to successfully accomplish the business objectives and be sufficient to sustain operations. This section may also include the first discussion of business valuation.
Strategic Planning is a Different Animal
The Strategic Plan connects the business plan with a macro view of the market’s environment and trends that will drive the financial potential of the enterprise. In short strategic planning means dispassionately identifying the elements that contribute to the performance of the enterprise. A strategic planning exercise should generate more questions than answers within an organization. This requires a mindset of curiosity because the process should help question everyone’s unquestioned assumptions. These questions set the stage for thoughtful debate and ensure that management does not waste time and energy on less important topics. Discovery is often indirect and unexpected rather than head-on and predictable with decisions as the ultimate output. CBV role is to lead productive in-house debates that extract market and industry insights, not preparing documents or analyses. If the subjects discussed are not about competitors, risks, markets, customers or new growth then they are the wrong discussions. Revenue and sales volume targets come later.
The answers to the right questions form the foundation of the company’s strategic decisions.
- How does the business create value for its customers? Where does this occur?
- Where and how can the business generate higher revenues?
- Where are the market trends? What were they? How have things changed?
- What risks does the business face today or in the near future?