A note business is a mix of operations, finance and marketing and it is important to consider that a successful and profitable note business does not happen by accident! There are a few adages commonly quoted, but the two most recognizable are:
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”; and
“It is as important to ‘Work on the Business’ as to ‘Work in the Business”
There are two equally important components to setting up and operating a sound and resilient note business, outside of ensuring there is sufficient working capital for efficient and unimpeded marketing and operations. These are the strategic plan and the business plan. The strategic Plan is the “Where Do I Want to Go?” and the Business Plan is “How Do I Get There?”
The Strategic Plan – The strategic plan is a high level holistic view of your note business. It can be likened to a structured “wish list”. Development of a “statement of purpose” provides a short and concise view of your note business and aids in development of the strategic plan. It also serves as a benchmark/gauge for any strategic business decisions.
To aid in development of the statement of purpose and development of the strategic plan for the note business, there are several fundamental questions which need to be asked, as the answers to these will affect your thinking and the ultimate strategic strings developed within your plan, which in turn affects the content and implementation of the strategy itself. To get you started on what those questions might be just Google “SWOT analysis questions” and that will give you a good idea of the questions you need to be asking.
While some of the questions you find will be common questions, there may be others more relevant to your note business and situation. Once the questions have been asked, and answered, you are now ready to begin the process of developing the statement of purpose and strategic plan. Begin with a “brain storming session” to determine the reason for your note business to in existence, and to establish the values which are important to your note business and will help you arrive at the statement of purpose.
The complexity of your strategic plan is very dependent on the size of your company. The strategic plan is usually developed as a rolling three-year plan. It is important that a timeframe and person responsible for implementing the strategy is assigned (most of the time it is you). It is not possible to implement all parts of all strategic strings during any one year. The strategies should be prioritized, and the top three to five strategies identified for implementation during the year.
The strategic plan is a “living and breathing” document. It is not set in stone. It is your tool to give you your vision, and as a consequence needs to be review a minimum of twice annually.
The Business Plan – A business plan is a detailed, costed and resourced plan, where the execution and implication of the strategic strategies are expanded for operational purposes. It defines exactly how your note business is to be conducted, what resources are required to develop, sustain and grow your note business and includes financial budget and forecasting for your note business.
The business plan should address business profile, marketing, operations and finance. It should provide a snapshot of your note business, so that anyone that needs to view it will have enough information on your company from one document. Within the operations section the plan needs to describe the service being offered, what equipment is required to provide this, where the operation is located, the skills required, the processes systems and controls required. For a new note business this needs to include detailed analysis of systems required for initial and ongoing operations. The operational strategies from the strategic plan need to be addressed and expanded on within this section.
The marketing section needs to contain market analysis and business analysis, which includes the Performance Indicators and Ratios which are used to determine the effectiveness of the marketing methods. For a new note business this needs to be a very detailed market analysis. The marketing methods from the strategic plan need to be addressed and expanded on within this section.
The financial section, like those above, requires a lot of thought in addition to the mechanics of business operation. It combines elements from the two sections above, and puts a value and/or cost on these. This is where current and projected revenues and expenses all meet. This is where the income and expenditure forecast is developed, the cash flow planning is derived, and the balance sheet formed.
There is a lot of work in this section, but it is very important to make this as accurate as possible based on historical data and data derived for the new business projected to come in. These projections need to encompass the strategic strategies out for three years in line with the strategic plan. For a new note business, the need to include detailed financial business modeling and forecasting for three years is more difficult, as the entire forecast is based on conjecture, albeit educated.
A business plan needs to incorporate well considered risk analysis and profiling as well. Changes in any one or more of a number of parameters within a note business can adversely affect the operation and viability of the business in a very short time. It is important these risks are identified in the business plan, along with the remedial actions required to mitigate or reduce the impact of these events.
I am a firm believer every note business needs business advice – a sounding board. This can be in the form of a personal business advisor/mentor/coach or note business advisor. This article is just a brief overview on planning your note business. It is not as daunting as many think, but it is a very useful process to work through. It allows you to understand your note business and take control of it from the beginning. Remember, success demands action! Keep on marketing, it’s going to work! TWITA! (That’s What I’m Talking About!) ☺