If you ask a group of company owners, what a business plan is you are going to get many different answers. What they say depends on the type of firm they run, what stage they are at in their business development, what their aims are, and, to some extent, what sector they work in.
Oddly, many of those diverse answers would be right. That is because there are actually many kinds of business plans.
To help you to understand some of the main ones we are going to look at a well-established firm that has reached the stage where they are ready to expand fast. The firm is called alldayPA and the plans they have produced.
This UK based firm provides a round the clock call answering and back office service to any firm or organisation that needs them. Its founder and CEO is Reuben Singh. He has taken the firm from a small concern to one that handles hundreds of thousands of calls for thousands of clients every year.
Over the years, he and his team has put together a range of business plans including the following types:
A business purpose plan
This is a headline plan that is designed to clearly identify the market that the business is there to serve. It ensures that a company takes a focused approach to marketing. Usually it includes details of the firm’s ethos and way of working, and its headline goals or mission statement.
A business purpose plan is mainly for internal consumption. This plan evolves as the business develops, but the core principles essentially stay the same.
From the start, the aim of alldayPA has been to free up time for their clients by taking responsibility for their calls, and answering them in a professional way. They started doing that in 1999, and the firm is still doing this successfully today, but they now offer other back office services as well.
A standard business plan
A standard business plan is the most flexible and useful of all of the different types of plan. It is a multipurpose plan that can be used when looking for finance, new partners or introducing a new employee to the business. In its simplest form, the plan describes the company and the services that it provides as well as what the firm’s target market is.
Adapting the plan to raise funds
When the plan is used to attract investors, a section on turnover, cash flow information and profit and loss details are included. Most firms include the firm’s short term and long-term business goals.
If it is being used as part of a loan application additional financial details may need to be included. Most financial institutions want details of the project the funds are due to be used for. AlldayPA recently completed a move to new premises in Salford. The move is a key component of the firm’s expansion plans that are costing £7m, so they used business plans to secure finance for the various projects.
A detailed business plan
This standard plan can be built upon and used internally. A detailed plan includes details of the firms marketing campaigns, training and development process and much more. This detailed reference document keeps everyone on track and provides an overview of where the business is going and how they are going to get there.
Successful firms like alldayPA include all of their staff when formulating this plan. For example, AlldayPA recently changed the way they work.
By consulting with their staff they have come up with a new pay structure that includes quality driven bonuses and flexible working. Involving staff in the formulation of the detailed business plan fosters ownership and, therefore, increases the chances of success.