Business Planning Online Tutorials
by Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
- Created: December 30, 2011, 2:32 pm
- Updated: April 30, 2012, 6:59 pm
I’ve done a series of business planning tutorials that are available as online video tutorials on business planning here on a different part of this community.sba.gov site. The goal is to help real people with real business planning. That’s not just for the relatively few who have to submit a business plan to a bank or investor. That’s for everybody who wants to manage better, optimize, and steer a business. Real planning is a process, not just a document. Here is a list of the 13 videos in the series. If you’re interested, you could watch them in order, or pick and choose according to the topics. The list has only eight items because two of them include three individual videos.
- Introduction and orientation (2:12)
- Planning is modular (1:26) Think of the plan as a collection of connected blocks. Start anywhere. Get going.
- Form follows function (4:45) How big, what format, what's included, what platform ... it all depends on the specific business use of this plan. Most of them stay loosely connected on a network. Only a minority need to be edited, polished, and printed onto paper.
- Planning is management (1:20) Planning should become management and better business, long-term progress towards goals, prioritizing, and focus. It’s up to you to make your planning work. It’s not really about the plan, per se; it’s about the discipline to use the plan to run the business.
- Planning your strategy (8:04) Strategy is the heart of the plan, which is also the heart of the business. It is made up of a group of three core concepts that can’t be separated: market, identity, and focus. Don’t pull them apart. It’s the interrelationship between them that drives your business.
- Business plan flesh and bones (10:25) I like to think of defining flesh and bones as setting the steps. You have a strategy and the heart of your business settled, but you want to set it down into concrete steps you can follow and track.
- Sales forecast (3 videos, 4:51, 3:10, and 9:27) Your sales forecast is the backbone of your business plan. People measure a business and its growth by sales, and your sales forecast sets the standard for expenses, profits, and growth. The sales forecast is almost always going to be the first set of numbers you’ll track for plan vs. actual use. This is what you’ll do even if you calculate no other numbers.
- Dress and grow your plan (12:15) As your company grows, your planning grows. If you add people to your team, then you want to bring them into the process and make sure you’re on the same page. You bring in skills. The business gets more complex as it grows. Cash flow gets more sophisticated. You start to manage the money and administration differently.
- The formal business plan document (3 videos, 5:39, 8:48, 2:26) You don’t necessarily need to have a traditional, formal business plan. Until you really need to show a plan to some outsider who needs, wants, or expects the full formal plan, you can just use your plan-as-you-go plan to reap the benefits and avoid the hassle of the document. However, there are business reasons that force you to produce the traditional plan document. We call these business plan events. The more common business plan events are related to seeking loans or investments. Ironically, the bank loan manager, angel investor, or venture capitalist may not read your plan, but most of them want to know you have one, which means they want it to appear in their inbox or on their desk.
I hope you find these tutorials useful.
About the Author
Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 44 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including The Plan As You Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press, 2008.
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