Sunday 12 June 2011

A Template For Success?

The index used for Inflation calculations is based upon a basket of purchases that most households are likely to buy. Not only is that a nonsense for an individual household but the shopping list alters as life evolves. The different requirements of families at each stage alter and hopefully their circumstances improve as they rise in their chosen occupation. Fashions change and technology develops. It is only a few years since people had routine access to a computer or even found the need to do so. Likewise they saw no particular urgency for a mobile phone.
As a benchmark for prices it is flawed but you have to start somewhere and every so often the basket of products changes to reflect the current society requirements.
So a template for a shopping list is not a particularly useful idea for an individual. Each shopper has different pressures, arrangements, and preferences.
This thinking hasn’t made it to the world of a small business. The business plan is downloaded, purchased as a sort of form or questionnaire, to be filled in as best as seems right and very likely stuck in the drawer and forgotten.  
The point seems to be that every business needs a business plan and many small business owners and starters don’t really know why. Sometimes it is done to appease the requirements of the Bank. Sitting on the other side of the desk in a former life my heart used to drop when seeming intelligent customer presented me with a business plan that was a badly drawn up or even a badly photocopied template on some occasions. The questions had peremptory answers in a misunderstanding of the point. ‘What are your Marketing aims?’ Answer – ‘To get more customers’. I could go on. You could almost hear the young people’s impatient catchphrase ‘duh!’ implying stupidity of a rare order.
The point here is that you cannot really have a template for a business plan any more than you can have a standard shopping list for anyone. That means a business plan (the clue is in the title, Duh!) has to be made for each business idea and development . What a disservice you do to you and your business if you present anything else to the bank for consideration!
The other get out is that the business is small enough or simple enough for you to run it on natural cunning. Not very impressive either is it? If it is ever going to grow and develop on a sound base then some thought needs to go in there on a continual basis.
The business plans I do with clients (not ‘for clients’ please note) bring them through a process of preparation and thought that ends up as a written document but has its main value in the process. There are many examples of this even to the point where it has been proved on paper that the business idea cannot proceed successfully. How much better to find that out with a good business plan before investing much time and effort? 
Bob Shepherd Associates gives every client an individual business plan - it is normally done with the client rather than for the client and it stays on the desk as a working document afterwards.  

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