Whether it is travel, study, cooking or any other activity involving a process, planning is usually the first step. The same holds true for business. Business plans are probably more important than the business itself. For example, the plan for a house is more important than the house itself, though it is the house that people remember and not the plan. But the house wouldn't stand without the plan, would it?.
For any organization, various functional plans-marketing, financial, human resources, production-have to be laid down, even though all the functional plans serve different purposes and all theses plans provide guidance and structure to the successful running of the business.
So it is crucial that every time you mention financials in your business plan, to really give them the correct context. When I have worked with clients in developing business plans, there has been a budget or amount set aside for example to be spent on marketing, which has been decided a bit arbitrarily. I mean with no real research, no understanding of what that amount needs to be spent on, and what that budget will truly achieve.
I teach that you should seek to learn from competitors; obviously never copy another business's idea or what they are doing, but you can absolutely learn from their mistakes or see what they are doing and discover ways to improve it. All of that analysis belongs in your business plan: make sure you have your competitors under the microscope and make sure that is a solid chunk of your plan. That is some of the best research and information you will gather about what will make your business successful in future.
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