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Why is business planning important for small businesses?

Business planning is often one of those things that gets put to the bottom of the ever growing ‘To do’ list. Something that will get done eventually, when ‘I get round to it’. It’s just another of those time-consuming things a busy business owner has to think about.

However, making time to put together a business plan can be a really good move for your business. It can help you stay focussed on where you’re going and keep you on track in more ways than you’d think, especially if you’re a small business owner.

Here are some of the benefits of having a proper business plan in place:

Clarity

A business plan spells out your goals, vision and values. Map out what you want to achieve by when and clearly write down your hopes and aims, so they’re easier to stick to.

Communication

This leads on neatly from clarity. If you’re looking to hire people or find new investors or funding, for example, getting your business message across in the simplest way possible will make it clearer for them to understand exactly what you stand for and how you do things.

Control

Think of your business plan as being like the foundation to whatever you’re building. If you lay the foundations properly, you can control the construction process from start to finish.

Organised

Writing a business plan helps you work out how much time, money and other things, like people, you’ll need, so you can get everything in place in plenty of time.

Prepare

No-one knows what the future holds, so being as prepared as you can helps you deal with whatever surprises come your way. The more prepared you are, the better decisions you’ll make in times of trouble.

Strategy

Who are your competitors? What do you need to do to get ahead of them? Putting your business strategy down on paper helps you get to grips with what it really takes to achieve it.

Strengths

This is where you need to be honest with yourself. What do you – and your business – do best? Knowing this can come in handy when you’re looking for investors or partners in the future, or to differentiate yourself from other similar businesses.

Testing

This is particularly useful if your business is brand-new or in the very early stages. Writing down your business idea comprehensively means you can test it out before investing too much time, effort and money on it.

Weaknesses

Understanding these are just as important as knowing what you’re good at. Again, be truthful. Once you properly realise where your areas of weakness lie, you can start working to improve them.

Once you’ve written your business plan (you’re going to start one now you’ve read this, aren’t you?), it’s important to realise your plan won’t be static. You’ll have to change it as your business evolves. What was appropriate for a start-up might not fit your business a few years later, so be prepared to review your plan periodically.

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