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The ultimate guide to business planning (with template)
November 19, 2020 by MindManager Blog
By: Jill Huettich
If you could do something to double the success of your business, would you do it? Of course you would! Happily, that’s not pie-in-the-sky kind of talk either. There is something you can do to increase your likelihood of business success by a whopping 200%. That something is business planning. Time and time again, business planning has been shown to have a huge impact on business growth.
Take, for instance, the results of a survey completed by 2,877 business owners. After analyzing respondents’ answers, the Oregon Department of Economics concluded that business planning correlates with success in multiple areas, including: obtaining a loan, getting investment capital, making a major purchase, recruiting a new team member, thinking more strategically, and growing a company.
Mind you, those results were “regardless of the type of company, the growth stage of the company, and the intent of the business plan.” Clearly, business planning works!
In this guide to business planning, we’ll cover everything you need to know about business plans, their benefits and importance, what does into one, and will provide a template for you to get started. Jump ahead using the links below.
What is business planning?
The importance of business planning, how to write a business plan, sample business plan template.
- Downloadable MindManager template
[Free eBook] How Visualization Builds Better Strategic Plans
Business planning refers to the process of determining a company’s objectives, strategies, and projected actions to reach certain goals within a specific time fame. Typically, business planning focuses on two key areas: making profits and mitigating risks.
When companies engage in business planning, it’s with the objective of creating a business plan. A business plan is a written document that contains: the company’s vision, a description of the company, information about its products and services, marketing research, sales strategies, financial projections, competitor analysis, and financial records.
The purpose of a business plan is to act as a road map of sorts, providing a company with the direction, focus, and clarity it needs to achieve its goals.
Business planning vs. strategic planning
Now that you know what business planning is, you may be wondering if it’s any different from strategic planning, and if so, how? That’s what we’ll go over in this section.
As we mentioned before, business planning provides a detailed overview of a company. Usually, this is undertaken with the goal of building revenue and support for a startup. In other words, a business plan tests the proposition that a “particular undertaking—program, partnership, new venture, growth strategy, or entity as a whole—is economically or operationally viable.”
By contrast, a strategic plan is a high-level document that creates a vision for an established company. From that vision, broadly defined objectives are outlined.
Because strategic plans define companies’ most important objectives, they’re used to align department goals, build consensus among stakeholders, and prioritize company spending.
Another difference between these two types of plans is the length of time they cover. A strategic plan typically looks at a period of 3-5 years, whereas a business plan usually just looks at a year.
Additionally, business plans are primarily written to raise money, so their audience is external. Strategic plans are internal documents, created for people within the company.
The importance of business planning cannot be overstated. In particular, businesses do it for the following reasons :
1. To obtain loans or investments
It would be virtually impossible for a startup to secure capital without a business plan—they’re considered that essential.
That’s because business plans establish the viability of a business, which is something any bank or venture capitalist needs to be convinced of before funding a venture.
2. To prevent mistakes
Unfortunately, most startups don’t even last 5 years. There are a number of different reasons for this, but some of the main ones include: tough competition, low demand for what they’re selling, a poor pricing model, an inadequate team, and an inability to secure that all-important funding we just mentioned.
A good business plan helps companies anticipate these types of problems, so they can prevent them.
3. To examine viability
The idea for a startup is often met with a lot of enthusiasm. That vending machine featuring high-end desserts and pastries? Brilliant!
However, sometimes that enthusiasm needs to be tempered by reality. A business plan offers a great opportunity to do that, because it gets entrepreneurs to think through the answers to questions they may never have even considered, like “Is there a demand in this neighborhood for desserts?” and “How many businesses are already selling desserts in this location?
4. To reduce risk
Flying by the seat of your pants in the business world is not the best idea. A business plan clearly lays out a company’s objectives, as well as the landscape of the market.
As a result, business leaders know which challenges to expect. With that knowledge in hand, they can take proactive steps to mitigate their risks.
5. To accelerate growth
Quite simply, business planning works. In fact, according to one study, companies that plan grow 30% faster than those who don’t. And, interestingly enough, another study found that 71% of fast-growing companies (those defined as having 92% growth in sales from one year to the next) have business plans.
6. To identify problems with cash flow
Business plans contain 3 financial statements: a balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow statement. For startups, these numbers are projected.
When entrepreneurs have these numbers to refer to, they can more easily monitor cash flow, comparing reality to their projections. This gives them the opportunity to quickly deal with cash flow challenges, should any arise.
7. To make decisions
When faced with tough business decisions, it can be difficult to know which path to choose. However, with a business plan in hand, entrepreneurs can make well-thought-out decisions based on the analysis they’ve already performed.
As you can see, there are tons of great reasons to create a business plan, particularly for start-ups and other new businesses. However, even well-established businesses can benefit from a business plan.
Not only does a business plan provide a valuable overview of an entire company, but it’s also an excellent tool for pinpointing potential challenges, so they can be proactively addressed and resolved.
There may be nothing more critical to your company’s success than a business plan. That’s why it’s so important to understand how to write a business plan, and to devote time and effort to creating a solid, well-researched one.
The elements of a business plan are fairly straightforward. While no two business plans are identical, most of them rely on the following structure:
1. Executive summary
Business plans typically run dozens of pages long. While, ideally, you’d like to think that people will read your entire plan, there’s no guarantee of that—which is why the executive summary is the most important part of your business plan.
In the summary, you’ll want to provide readers with a quick synapsis that explains what your company is and why it’ll be successful.
This summary should include your company’s mission statement and a description of the product or service you provide. You’ll also want to briefly touch on the company’s founders, employees, location, and financial growth.
Aim to make your executive summary about 4 pages max , and don’t write it until you’ve completed the rest of your business plan. That’ll make it easier to summarize all the information your plan contains.
2. Company description
This detailed overview of your company includes such things as the problems your business solves, as well as the customers it serves. You should view this section as your opportunity to shine by also explaining your business’ competitive advantages.
3. Market analysis
What’s the outlook of the industry you’re in? Who’s your target market and how do you plan to reach the people in it? These are the types of questions you’ll answer in this section of your business plan.
Additionally, you’ll want to use the Market Analysis section to perform a competitor analysis, identifying who the major players are in your industry, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
By understanding what’s working well for your competitors—and what isn’t—you’ll be better able to determine how you can grab some of their market share.
4. Organization & management
How will your business be structured—as a sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, or LLC? Include that information in this section, as well as an organization chart showing who’s heading up your company. You may also want to include resumes or CVs for key team members here too.
5. Service or product line
This section should explain what you sell, how it helps customers, and what the product lifecycle looks like. This is where you’ll also want to mention any patents or copyrights.
6. Marketing & sales
How do you intend to attract customers? What marketing channels will you use? What’s your strategy for growth? Think carefully about your answers to these questions, because later, you’ll use this information to make your financial projections.
7. Funding request
If one of the objectives of your business plan is to obtain funding, this section should be included in your plan. When you write your funding request, you’ll want to explain what your funding requirements are over the next 5 years and how those funds will be used.
Additionally, this section should specify , “whether you want debt or equity, the terms you’d like applied, and the length of time your request will cover.”
8. Financial projections
Financial projections are a key part of your plan, particularly if you’re seeking funding. In this section, you’ll want to include financial projections for the next five years, as well as explain how you came up with those figures.
Your projections should include cash flow statements, balance sheets, income statements, and capital expenditure budgets. If your business is operational already, you’ll also want to include the past 3-5 years of those same documents.
Think of this section as your final opportunity to convince readers of your business’ success. So, this is where you can include supporting documentation, like product pictures, reference letters, permits, patents, legal documents, contracts, credit histories, etc.
And there you have it! Once you’ve finished the analysis required for each of these elements—and typed your findings into a well-formatted document–your business plan will be complete.
Understanding the business planning cycle
After you’ve completed the business planning process, your work—while not over—gets easier. Your job now is to review the business plan periodically to see how well your company is achieving its objectives.
Did you meet your financial projections? In what areas is your company doing well? How is it falling short? Are there any new opportunities for your organization?
During this period of analysis, you’ll ideally want to set 1-year and 3-year goals , as well as key performance indicators (KPIs). These will help you track on a quarterly, or even monthly, basis how well your company’s meeting its objectives.
Most businesses engage in business planning on an annual or quarterly basis. Truly, it depends on how much time your organization has to devote to the task, as well as the industry you’re in.
For smaller businesses, a good aim is to perform the business planning process once a year. For larger companies—or ones where the market changes frequently—you may want to “plan to plan” every quarter.
Generally speaking, most business plan templates will include the following key elements and information. We’ve provided a downloadable MindManager template below that you can use to create your own business plan.
Section 1: Executive summary
The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan, so you’ll really want to put time and effort into getting it just right.
Make sure to include the following elements :
- Explain the mission of your company – what is the reason for your company?
- Describe your product or service – what types of products and services will you offer customers?
- Introduce the company founders – who are your company’s founders, and what roles will they play within your organization?
- Briefly provide information about your customer base – which customers will your business target, and how will your company serve them?
- Provide an overview of your competitors – explain why your business will succeed by identifying your competitive advantage and describing how you’ll get market share.
- Summarize your financial projections – what financial growth do you expect your company to achieve over the next few years?
- Mention financing requirements – if your business is a start-up seeking financing, briefly mention those financial requirements here.
If you want a good idea of what your completed executive summary should look like, you can check out an example of one here.
Section 2: Company overview
In this section, you’ll want to go into greater detail than you did in the executive summary, explaining which problems your business solves, who its customers are, and what competitive advantages your company has.
Here are the important elements you’ll want to include :
- Provide an overview of your company – what’s its mission, vision, and purpose?
- Give background about the formation of your company – when did your company form?
- Explain who your company’s founders are – what backgrounds do they have that make them uniquely qualified to run your business successfully?
- Provide geographic information – where is your business located and in which markets do you have a presence?
- Describe your company’s competitive advantages – while this was briefly touched upon in the executive summary, you’ll want to provide more information here about why your company will be successful.
Section 3: Market analysis
In this section, you want to prove the viability of your business by providing solid market research about your industry.
To achieve this goal, you’ll want to include the following in this section:
- Identify your target market – who are you trying to sell your products and services to?
- Describe the need for your products or services – why do you anticipate demand for your company’s offerings?
- Give information about the overall market size – how big is the market? How much do you expect your company to sell? Are there any demographic or geographic factors that might impact your sales projections?
- Identify the competition – who are your company’s main competitors? What advantages and disadvantages do they have? What’s their percentage of market share? How much do they sell annually?
- Perform a SWOT analysis – identify your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strengths.
For help writing this section, you may find it useful to look at this marketing analysis example .
For the competitor and SWOT analyses, we recommend an information visualization software, like MindManager. View the SWOT analysis template at the end of this article.
Section 4: Organization & management
In this section, you want to give readers a solid overview of how your company will be structured. To do that, you’ll want to answer the following questions :
- Describe the legal structure of your business – is it a sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, or LLC?
- Identify your management team – name the key roles within your organization, identify who will fulfill them, and explain how those individuals will be compensated. You may want to include an organization chart here too, as well as brief resumes or CVs for key team members.
Section 5: Service or product line
In this portion of the business plan, you’ll want to provide more information about the product or service you provide. So, make sure to include these elements here :
- Describe the product or service you sell – what are you offering and how does it help customers?
- Explain the product lifecycle – how long does it take to bring new products/services to market?
- Provide pricing information – how will you price your products or services? What will your operating costs be?
- Describe how you’ll acquire products – are you the manufacturer? If not, who is? Are you working directly with a manufacturer or are you going through a wholesaler? If product demand suddenly increases, what’s the likelihood you’ll experience supply problems?
Section 6: Sales and marketing strategy
Your customer acquisition strategy is especially important to potential investors, so you’ll definitely want to be thorough here. Plus, later you’ll be using this information to make financial projections, so take your time when writing this part of your plan.
- Describe the customer acquisition process – how will you find and attract customers? For instance, will you use salespeople, call centers, social media ads, etc.?
- Explain any promotional methods you plan on using – will you offer free samples or perform product demonstrations?
- Provide information about the marketing materials you intend to use – like brochures, flyers, trade show booths, etc.
- Estimate your advertising budget – how much will you have to spend to achieve your marketing objectives?
Section 7 – Funding request
This section is only necessary if you’re seeking business funding. If you are, you’ll want to include the following information in your business plan:
- Identify your funding requirements – how much money are you requesting and how will those funds be used?
- Describe the terms you’re seeking – do you want debt or equity? Which terms do you want applied? What length of time does your request cover?
Section 8 – Financial projections
As you might imagine, financial projections are a key part of your plan, especially if you’re seeking funding. So, in this section, you’ll want to make sure you include :
- 5 years of projected cash flow statements, balance sheets, income statements, and capital expenditure budgets – these documents should also explain how you came up with the figures you’re using.
- If your business is already up and running, you’ll also want to include the past 3-5 years of those same documents.
Of course to create these financial projections, you’ll need to have the right software. Two good ones to check out are ProjectionHub and PlanGuru .
These forecasting software packages make it easy to create the kinds of financial statements you’ll want to include in your business plan.
Section 9 – Appendix
This is your last chance to convince readers your business will be a success. So, if you have additional information to give your business plan more weight, you’ll want to incorporate it here. Consider including the following in this section:
- Product pictures
- Reference letters
- Legal documents
- Credit histories
And that’s it! After you’ve completed these sections, just assemble them into a single document, format everything neatly, add a table of contents, and your business plan will be complete.
Afterwards, you can use it to obtain loans, determine viability, reduce risk, assess cash flow problems, make decisions, and accelerate business growth—making it well-worth the time and effort it takes to write your plan.
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- What is strategic planning? 5 steps and ...
What is strategic planning? 5 steps and processes
A strategic plan helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. It includes your company’s vision and mission statements, goals, and the actions you’ll take to achieve those goals. In this article we describe how a strategic plan compares to other project and business tools, plus four steps to create a successful strategic plan for your company.
Strategic planning is when business leaders map out their vision for the organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. Strategic plans inform your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals. So if you work for a small company or startup, you could likely benefit from creating a strategic plan. When you have a clear sense of where your organization is going, you’re able to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact.
The strategic planning process doesn’t just help you identify where you need to go—during the process, you’ll also create a document you can share with employees and stakeholders so they stay informed. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to get started developing a strategic plan.
What is a strategic plan?
A strategic plan is a tool to define your organization’s goals and what actions you will take to achieve them. Typically, a strategic plan will include your company’s vision and mission statements, your long-term goals (as well as short-term, yearly objectives), and an action plan of the steps you’re going to take to move in the right direction.
Your strategic plan document should include:
Your company’s mission statement
Your company’s goals
A plan of action to achieve those goals
Your approach to achieving your goals
The tactics you’ll use to meet your goals
An effective strategic plan can give your organization clarity and focus. This level of clarity isn’t always a given—according to our research, only 16% of knowledge workers say their company is effective at setting and communicating company goals. By investing time into strategy formulation, you can build out a three- to five-year vision for the future of your company. This strategy will then inform your yearly and quarterly company goals.
Do I need a strategic plan?
A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics. Here’s how a strategic plan compares to other project management and business tools.
Strategic plan vs. business plan
A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.
You should create a business plan when you’re:
Just starting your business
Significantly restructuring your business
If your business is already established, consider creating a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.
Key takeaway: A business plan works for new businesses or large organizational overhauls. Strategic plans are better for established businesses.
Strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements
Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.
As a result, you should already have your mission and vision statements drafted before you create a strategic plan. Ideally, this is something you created during the business planning phase or shortly after your company started. If you don’t have a mission or vision statement, take some time to create those now. A mission statement states your company’s purpose and it addresses what problem your organization is trying to solve. A vision statement states, in very broad strokes, how you’re going to get there.
A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose
A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose
A strategic plan should include your mission and vision statements, but it should also be more specific than that. Your mission and vision statements could, theoretically, remain the same throughout your company’s entire lifespan. A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction.
For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:
Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.”
Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.”
Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners.
Key takeaway: A strategic plan draws inspiration from your mission and vision statements.
Strategic plan vs. company objectives
Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time.
Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.
Key takeaway: Company objectives are broad, evergreen goals, while a strategic plan is a specific plan of action.
Strategic plan vs. business case
A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business.
You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.
Key takeaway: A business case tackles one initiative or investment, while a strategic plan maps out years of overall growth for your company.
Strategic plan vs. project plan
A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan.
A project plan has seven parts:
Stakeholders and roles
Scope and budget
Milestones and deliverables
Timeline and schedule
Key takeaway: You may build project plans to map out parts of your strategic plan.
When should I create a strategic plan?
You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed. That being said, if your organization moves quickly, consider creating one every two to three years instead. Small businesses may need to create strategic plans more often, as their needs change.
Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets.
What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?
The strategic planning process should be run by a small team of key stakeholders who will be in charge of building your strategic plan.
Your group of strategic planners, sometimes called the management committee, should be a small team of five to 10 key stakeholders and decision-makers for the company. They won’t be the only people involved—but they will be the people driving the work.
Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the strategic planning process.
Step 1: Determine where you are
Before you can get started with strategy development and define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders—like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:
Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future
Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services
Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether in the product, business practices, or company culture
A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process).
To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:
What does your organization currently do well?
What separates you from your competitors?
What are your most valuable internal resources?
What tangible assets do you have?
What is your biggest strength?
What does your organization do poorly?
What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?
What do your competitors do better than you?
What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?
What processes or products need improvement?
What opportunities does your organization have?
How can you leverage your unique company strengths?
Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?
How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?
Is there an emerging need for your product or service?
What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?
Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?
Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?
Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company?
Step 2: Identify your goals and objectives
This is where the magic happens. To develop your strategy, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your original business documents—these are your final destination.
To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” This can help you figure out exactly which path you need to take.
During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents to ensure your strategic plan is moving your company in the right direction like:
Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose
Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision
Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company
Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market
Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years
Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in
Step 3: Develop your plan
Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Your plan will take your position and strategy into account to define your organization-wide plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your strategic plan should be created as the quarters and years go on.
As you build your strategic plan, you should define:
Your company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.
Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals .
Related key results and KPIs for that first year. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable.
Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.
A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.
Step 4: Execute your plan
After all that buildup, it’s time to put your plan into action. New strategy execution involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success.
Map your processes with key performance indicators, which will gauge the success of your plan. KPIs will establish which parts of your plan you want achieved in what time frame.
A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch:
Align tasks with job descriptions to make sure people are equipped to get their jobs done
Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process
Fully commit to your plan
Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed
At this point, you should have created and implemented your new strategic framework. The final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.
Share your strategic plan —this isn’t a document to hide away. Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to it so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and your overall strategic plan. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management tool .
Update your plan regularly (quarterly and annually). Make sure you’re using your strategic plan to inform your shorter-term goals. Your strategic plan also isn’t set in stone. You’ll likely need to update the plan if your company decides to change directions or make new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan to ensure you’re building your organization in the best direction possible for the next few years.
Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever—even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.
The benefits of strategic planning
Strategic planning can help with goal-setting by allowing you to explain how your company will move towards your mission and vision statements in the next three to five years. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).
When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:
Align everyone around a shared purpose
Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go
Define long-term goals, and then set shorter-term goals to support them
Assess your current situation and any opportunities—or threats
Help your business be more durable because you’re thinking long-term
Increase motivation and engagement
Sticking to the strategic plan
To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done.
With clear priorities, team members can focus on the initiatives that are making the biggest impact for the company—and they’ll likely be more engaged while doing so.
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The Business Planning Process: 6 Steps To Creating a New Plan
In this article, we will define and explain the basic business planning process to help your business move in the right direction.
What is Business Planning?
Business planning is the process whereby an organization’s leaders figure out the best roadmap for growth and document their plan for success.
The business planning process includes diagnosing the company’s internal strengths and weaknesses, improving its efficiency, working out how it will compete against rival firms in the future, and setting milestones for progress so they can be measured.
Writing a new business plan involves a detailed process with a number of stages, some of which can overlap. Whether you are writing your plan from scratch, from a simple business plan template , or working with an experienced business plan consultant or writer, business planning for startups, small businesses, and existing companies is the same.
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The Better Business Planning Process
The business plan process includes 6 steps as follows:
- Do Your Research
- Calculate Your Financial Forecast
- Draft Your Plan
- Revise & Proofread
- Nail the Business Plan Presentation
We’ve provided more detail for each of these key steps below.
1. Do Your Research
Conduct detailed research into the industry, target market, existing customer base, competitors, and costs of the business begins the process. You may ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your business goals?
- What is the current state of your business?
- What are the current industry trends?
- What is your competition doing?
There are a variety of resources needed, ranging from databases and articles to direct interviews with other entrepreneurs, potential customers, or industry experts. The information gathered during this process should be documented and organized carefully, including the source as there is a need to cite sources within your business plan.
You may also want to complete a SWOT Analysis for your own business to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and potential risks as this will help you develop your strategies to highlight your competitive advantage.
Now, you will use the research to determine the best strategy for your business. You may choose to develop new strategies or refine existing strategies that have demonstrated success in the industry. Pulling the best practices of the industry provides a foundation, but then you should expand on the different activities that focus on your competitive advantage.
This step of the planning process may include formulating a vision for the company’s future, which can be done by conducting intensive customer interviews and understanding their motivations for purchasing goods and services of interest. Dig deeper into decisions on an appropriate marketing plan, operational processes to execute your plan, and human resources required for the first five years of the company’s life.
3. Calculate Your Financial Forecast
All of the activities you choose for your strategy come at some cost and, hopefully, lead to some revenues. Sketch out the financial situation by looking at whether you can expect revenues to cover all costs and leave room for profit in the long run.
Begin to insert your financial assumptions and startup costs into a financial model which can produce a first-year cash flow statement for you, giving you the best sense of the cash you will need on hand to fund your early operations.
A full set of financial statements provides the details about the company’s operations and performance, including its expenses and profits by accounting period (quarterly or year-to-date). Financial statements also provide a snapshot of the company’s current financial position, including its assets and liabilities.
This is one of the most valued aspects of any business plan as it provides a straightforward summary of what a company does with its money, or how it grows from initial investment to become profitable.
4. Draft Your Plan
With financials more or less settled and a strategy decided, it is time to draft through the narrative of each component of your business plan . With the background work you have completed, the drafting itself should be a relatively painless process.
If you have trouble writing convincing prose, this is a time to seek the help of an experienced business plan writer who can put together the plan from this point.
5. Revise & Proofread
Revisit the entire plan to look for any ideas or wording that may be confusing, redundant, or irrelevant to the points you are making within the plan. You may want to work with other management team members in your business who are familiar with the company’s operations or marketing plan in order to fine-tune the plan.
Finally, proofread thoroughly for spelling, grammar, and formatting, enlisting the help of others to act as additional sets of eyes. You may begin to experience burnout from working on the plan for so long and have a need to set it aside for a bit to look at it again with fresh eyes.
6. Nail the Business Plan Presentation
The presentation of the business plan should succinctly highlight the key points outlined above and include additional material that would be helpful to potential investors such as financial information, resumes of key employees, or samples of marketing materials. It can also be beneficial to provide a report on past sales or financial performance and what the business has done to bring it back into positive territory.
Business Planning Process Conclusion
Every entrepreneur dreams of the day their business becomes wildly successful.
But what does that really mean? How do you know whether your idea is worth pursuing?
And how do you stay motivated when things are not going as planned? The answers to these questions can be found in a business plan, a written document that provides an outline and resources needed to achieve success. This document helps entrepreneurs make better decisions and avoid common pitfalls along the way.
Business plans are dynamic documents that can be revised and presented to different audiences throughout the course of a company’s life. For example, a business may have one plan for its initial investment proposal, another which focuses more on milestones and objectives for the first several years in existence, and yet one more which is used specifically when raising funds.
Business plans are a critical first step for any company looking to attract investors or receive grant money, as they allow a new organization to better convey its potential and business goals to those able to provide financial resources.
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From competitive analysis to financial projections, business plans give your new business a roadmap for success. Download one of our free business plan templates and take your company to the next level.
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What is a business plan?
A business plan is a document that helps small business owners determine the viability of their business idea. Combining market research and financial analysis, a professional business plan helps startup CEOs and potential investors determine if the company can compete in the target market.
Typically, a good business plan consists of the following:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Mission statement
- Product and services
- Marketing plan
- Operations plan
- Management organization
- Financial plan
- Conclusion & appendix
Every section involved in a business plan is designed to help startup businesses reach their target market.
A business plan asks founders and entrepreneurs to detail their business strategy in a step-by-step process that makes sense from an operational perspective. This is essential if a startup is seeking a business loan or an investment from a venture capital firm.
However, even small businesses that are already economically viable can benefit from creating a business plan, since it encourages business owners and their management teams to examine their business model and reevaluate the best ways to reach their target customers.
Should I use a business plan template?
Yes. If you’ve never written one, a business plan can be challenging to write.
Creating a successful plan that you can use to grow your small business can require weeks of market analysis and financial preparation. You may spend time using Microsoft Excel or Powerpoint in order to create documentation which better supports our operational decisions.
However, almost every professional business plan is structured in the same way and most ask for the same information. Because of this, using a business plan template is advisable to save time, money, and effort.
Business plan templates for free
Rather than spending time trying to figure out how to write a business plan , use a free template as a guide to completion.
Business plan templates from PandaDoc can help you reach an effective go-to-market strategy even faster by asking you to provide all the relevant information you need when creating an effective business plan.
Grab a free template to get started!
Frequently asked questions
How many pages should my business plan be.
This depends on the kind of business plan you need to write and how you intend to use the plan that you create.
For example, a plan for a small business seeking potential investors or a business loan will need to provide income statements, cash flow statements, and a balance sheet (usually for a three-year or five-year forecast period).
These financial statements can be omitted if a small business owner isn’t seeking funding and is instead planning to use their business plan as a guiding document for themselves and their management team members.
Some business plans may only run a few pages. Fully-developed business plans can be as long as 50 pages. Much of this depends on the type of business, the operational strategy, and the level of detail that goes into developing the business plan.
Who needs a business plan?
Every business should have a business plan. This is an essential guidance document for any founder or CEO.
Good business plans help a company determine the viability of its place in the market and can help the business develop better strategies for differentiating itself from its competitors.
Business planning also forces business owners to evaluate their marketing strategy, the cost of customer acquisition and retention, and how they plan to grow their business over time.
What is the best business plan template?
Business plans come in all shapes and sizes. The best business plan template for your business is one that you understand and that matches the size and legal structure of your operation.
If you’re a sole proprietor, a business plan template designed for a big corporation probably doesn’t make sense. However, a business plan that helps you build an effective roadmap to grow your business while protecting your intellectual property is a good starting point.
PandaDoc offers specialized business plan templates for common industries along with tips to help you get started with business planning.
Should I hire someone to write my business plan for me?
No. You’ll find freelance writers and business strategy companies out there who are happy to write your business plan for a fee. These resources can guide you through the process, but you should write (or be heavily involved in) the creation of your business plan.
The reason for this is simple: You know the most about your business, and your business needs you to succeed.
A writer can work with you to make your business plan sound better to investors, and a consultant can help you fill in knowledge gaps — like how to conduct a SWOT analysis — and point out weaknesses in your plan. But, at the end of the day, you need to use the business plan to pitch investors and run your business.
Those ideas and guiding principles aren’t something you can outsource.
Should I use business planning software?
Software isn’t required when creating an effective business plan. Most business planning software is designed to help you navigate the outlining and writing process more effectively.
You don’t need software to write a professional business plan, but a solid template can help you get started. Download a free template from PandaDoc today and take your business to the next level.
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Blog Human Resources
How to Create a Process Improvement Plan [20+ Templates Included]
By Jennifer Gaskin , Nov 15, 2021
The goal of any business is to market their products as efficiently as possible to maximize profit. But often, the processes and procedures involved in producing those goods and services aren’t as efficient as they could be. That’s why having a solid process improvement plan in place can ensure your procedures and processes are smooth and effective.
Many aspects of process improvement can benefit from visual communication tools like infographics, presentations, mind maps and more. Venngage for Learning and Development teams makes it easy to create your own visual assets to help implement and manage your process improvement plans.
Click to jump ahead:
What is an example of process improvement, what is a process improvement plan, what are the benefits of establishing a process improvement plan, what are the most common types of process improvement plans, how do you create a process improvement plan, process improvement plan examples, process improvement plan faq.
As the name suggests, process improvement refers to the task of identifying, analyzing and improving existing business processes that are often outdated or no longer efficient enough.
While the term is most often used in a business context, it can refer to any decision or actions that aim to improve a process, be it as simple as finding a shorter route on your drive to work or as complex as improving the whole customer service process of a corporation.
Back to its business context, process improvement could target wasteful spending, poor office design, IT system downtime, employee disengagement and many other issues that can doom an organization.
Process improvement can’t be effective without proper process documentation policies in place. If you haven’t documented your company’s processes yet, we can help with that. Check out these process documentation templates to get you started.
A process improvement plan is a document that identifies the steps necessary to enhance the efficiency of processes and procedures in your company. Helpful process improvement plans should be general enough that they could apply to many functions in your business.
A general process improvement plan could look like this:
- Define : Identify the specific jobs, tasks or processes are being targeted by the plan.
- Analyze : Break the process or task into steps and identify weak points in the process and the reasons for these inefficiencies.
- Redesign : Change the steps in the process to eliminate the weak points.
- Implement : Put the new process into place.
- Monitor : Establish a timeline for conducting this analysis again to determine if the new process is more efficient or needs additional tweaks.
In fact, there’s more than one type of process improvement plan, which we’ll explore more in detail . In addition to the example above, a process improvement plan can also consist of 6 steps:
Or 4 steps, like this one which is developed using the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model:
These steps are, of course, quite simplified, and some process improvement plans will require months or years of changes to procedures, hiring practices, training, systems, software and more.
For example, a process improvement plan for a company lacking a specific skill set in its employees can mean hiring new staff and training the existing one. In cases like this, other tools like individual development plans can be useful.
This individual development plan designed for healthcare workers is a good example of how process improvement plans can branch off into other areas.
And once the new process is in place, it’s important to communicate it to the team effectively. That could be through a process infographic , timeline , mind map or other types of visual communication .
Customize this project communication plan to help streamline communication channels between teams working on the same project:
Another example of a process improvement plan, this nursing care plan is used in a healthcare setting only. It could be used to illustrate a new plan aimed at addressing gaps in communication and patient care. But you can use the process suggested in this plan and apply it to any industry.
This creative design process infographic would be an ideal way to share with a creative team a proposed new method of taking clients through the design process. Consider color-coding new or revised steps if creating a piece like this to share a revised company process.
Customize this action plan mind map once you’ve settled on a new process so that team members see steps involved in their tasks but also keep the main objectives in mind.
Return to Table of Contents
There are many benefits of diving into a process improvement plan in your organization, and the most obvious and important is to improve your company’s overall efficiency. Doing so can make the business more profitable in the long run. But that’s not where the benefits end.
The biggest benefits of a process improvement plan include:
- Employee satisfaction : More productive workers make a company more money over time, but they also gain a sense of accomplishment and self-improvement.
- Customer satisfaction : Many process improvement plans target tasks that are customer- or client-facing, and making sure your customers are satisfied is crucial for any organization.
- Agility : The business landscape is constantly changing, so putting a process improvement strategy into place will equip your organization to handle future disruption.
- Safety : Efficient processes are helpful to reducing workplace accidents and repetitive stress injuries, and examining the physical activities employees are doing as part of their jobs can help make them safer overall.
- Modernization : Organizations that resist technology are likely not long for the world, and process improvement plans are ideal for adapting new technologies to your company’s workflows.
- Innovation : In any company, there are things you do because that’s the way you’ve always done them. But breaking those processes down to see how they function is one of the best ways to spark a new idea and create innovation in your organization.
There are several popular methods of process improvement that you may consider integrating into your process improvement plans. Some of these methods are used in the largest companies in the world.
A quality control method developed by a Motorola engineer, Six Sigma has become a global phenomenon, and Six Sigma certification is highly sought-after in many industries. Six Sigma outlines five steps for improving existing business practices, abbreviated to DMAIC:
Here’s how a process improvement plan should be when using the Six Sigma method:
Lean & Lean Six Sigma
Lean traditionally is used by manufacturing companies, but the principles are useful across all industries, and as its name suggests, Lean process improvement plans focus on reducing waste. In particular, Lean aims to eliminate any activities that do not add value to the end user of the good or service. The steps are:
- Identify value
- Map value stream
- Create flow
- Establish pull
- Seek perfection
Lean Six Sigma is the hybrid of the two methods, helping organizations improve processes through DMAIC while also eliminating waste.
Total quality management (TQM)
Total quality management (TQM) had its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s before the advent of Lean and Six Sigma, but its main objectives are still valid today. TQM process development plans focus primarily on quality control, ensuring that the company’s output is of the highest possible quality and determining ways to make output even better.
TQM doesn’t have steps as most other process improvement methods do. Rather, it focuses on principles that should guide an organization with a TQM mindset:
- Total employee involvement
- Full team integration
- Strategic and systemic
- Data-driven decisions
- Constant communication
Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a continuous change management cycle that was first established by engineer and management consultant W. Edwards Deming in the 1950s. Back then it was called a Deming Wheel , which was later modified by Japanese engineers to arrive at its current definition.
The steps involved in PDCA are obvious:
Change isn’t easy, and it can be a challenge for companies to figure out what they’re doing wrong and how to fix it. But that’s why establishing a process improvement plan framework can help you make fact-based decisions about how to improve your organization.
Following the steps we outlined earlier, let’s explore a hypothetical process improvement plan for a doctor’s office that constantly gets complaints from patients about how many forms they have to fill out.
- Define : How many nurses, technicians, physicians, receptionists and other employees give patients forms to fill out?
- Analyze : Write down the steps involved in giving forms to patients; do this for each individual whose job involves giving patients forms. List out the name of each form and determine if any are duplicates, could be condensed or could be given to patients at a different time.
- Redesign : Craft a new plan for having patients fill out the forms in question that ensures the medical practice has the information it needs and follows all required compliance and privacy measures. Outcomes could include requiring patients to fill the forms out before they arrive for their appointment, building an app that patients can use to manage their records electronically, providing any forms at either the beginning or end of their visit and giving them a private, comfortable area to fill them out.
- Implement : Notify patients of the new process and ensure employees are trained on it.
- Monitor : Establish a timeframe for seeking input from patients on how smooth the check-in process is, and identify any gaps or logjams that remain.
Customize this process improvement plan template to reflect the example above:
Process improvement plans are useful for organizations of all types, and their output can include simple verbal instructions. But most companies benefit from creating charts, presentations and infographics to communicate a variety of aspects surrounding the plan.
Check out these process improvement plan templates that may help your organization.
Process improvement plan development examples
Developing a process improvement plan is complicated, but visual tools like infographics can make it easier for your team to grasp the steps involved.
Help your management team and employees understand the steps involved in the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle with this infographic. Customize it for your needs by outlining specific actions they need to take in the bottom section.
This PDCA cycle infographic is ideal for companies that are implementing improvement plans across their organization.
Revised process examples
Once you’ve settled on a new way of doing things, explaining the new process clearly to employees (and sometimes customers) is critical. Process and timeline infographics are helpful, as they allow people to visualize the new steps.
Here’s an example of a process improvement plan to revise customer support process, built based on the PDCA concept:
Customize this project management process infographic for the new process you and your teammates are creating. Quickly change out icons for ones that apply to your business, and use My Brand Kit to ensure the design aligns with your corporate identity.
Use this colorful process infographic for a new process that has several steps. Lengthen or shorten as needed to cover all the steps in your revised process. Or use a template like this to create a process improvement action plan as you begin your work.
Revised policy examples
Process development plans can easily spill over into a variety of business areas, and it’s often necessary to craft new policies and procedures on the way to your new process. Infographics and other tools can help you spread the word and document these new policies.
If your new process will require added documentation that needs to be signed by an employee or their supervisor, customize this procedure infographic that explores how to submit expense claims. Change the title, content and illustrations for your needs.
Perhaps your process improvement plan revealed that nobody in your organization is prepared for a disaster or emergency. The output of your process improvement team could be a business continuity plan like this one.
Employee development examples
The success of your new process will depend entirely on your team’s ability to execute it, and many organizations find that a major reason why their current processes aren’t working is that team members lack certain skills. So, employee development is often involved in executing a revised plan.
Help team members visualize the skills they need to develop by working with them to create a mind map like this one.
Customize this career planning infographic for team members as you work with them to help them build the necessary skills. While this example is about career planning in general, it’s easy to customize with specifics for your employees.
Change management examples
Humans by nature are resistant to change, and your organization may find it challenging to implement a new process. These change management plans may help you communicate and motivate your team.
Follow the steps in this change management process infographic to break through your team’s stubborn adherence to old, inefficient processes.
Update this planning process infographic to help get your team on the side of change. Employees who feel they are involved in steering the company in the right direction will feel a strong sense of ownership in the entire process improvement operation.
Do you have more questions about creating a process improvement plan for your organization? We’ve got answers.
How do you propose a process improvement plan?
Communication is a critical part of process improvement. If people don’t know or understand why change is needed, it’s unlikely they’ll embrace any new processes. Proposing a process improvement plan requires an individual or small group who will own the plan’s development from start to finish and can be evangelists for the plan across the organization.
What are the contents of a process improvement plan?
In general, process improvement plans must include a definition of the process, an explanation of its steps, an identification of the ways in which it falls short, a proposed new process and a mechanism for monitoring the revised steps.
How do you find areas of process improvement?
If you knew exactly why your organization wasn’t as successful, you’d fix it right away. But finding areas of process improvement means keeping your ear to the ground and observing the organization in an objective way. Common areas of process improvement include authority overlap, constantly missed deadlines, poor quality control, physical safety issues, fixing errors rather than preventing them, employee and customer dissatisfaction and excess spending.
In summary: Process improvement plans can help your company be more productive and eliminate organizational frustration
Identifying where your company is failing in the processes used across the organization is not an easy task, as it requires dispassionate examination of how you may be falling short. But visual communication tools like infographics, mind maps and process illustrations can help communicate issues to your team and get everyone moving in the right direction.
Interested in visualizing your process improvement plans and gaining buy-in from stakeholders? Start by registering for a FREE Venngage account and choose a suitable process improvement plan to customize. Our templates are professional-looking, fully customizable and really easy to edit, even if you don’t have design experience.
What is the Business Planning Cycle
Planning is the most influential part of a business. Every business organization must plan their activities on a long term or short-term basis for the proper development of their organization. Lack of planning may create some loss in financial, mechanical, or in human resources management divisions. A developed company has a wing that deals with this type of planning process and holds highly qualified and skilled workers appointed for this process.
What is business planning
A good business plan is to consider as the base of every business. Proper business planning reflects the company’s overview, and it attracts investors from different sectors. In modern times we get assistance from many online applications for planning for a startup company. Business planning should be easy to understand and have to be done in a systematic order. A graphical representation is the best way to represent planning. A good business plan should include an executive summary, marketing policies, and analysis of budget and financial planning. The business planning cycle is a diagrammatic representation of business planning, which includes eight main steps.
Business Planning Cycle
The planning cycle is a systematic process that includes eight steps. We use this planning cycle to plan any small-to-large-sized projects in action. This cycle helps you to identify your mistakes and teaches you some lessons from your previous error, and these lessons are helpful for feature planning. Project or business planning steps are
- Analyze Your Situation : You must have proper data that helps you to analyze the present situation of your organization. You must start thinking about the current situation and deciding how you can improve it. For better analyzing, you must gather as much data as possible regarding the company. We can follow some methods to analyze data in your company like:
- SWOT Analysis : SWOT ( Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis is a technique for evaluating the four main aspects of the business.
- Risk Analysis : By using this method, you can detect potential traps and defects in your organization that may affect your plan. You can identify the external risk by using this method and can neutralize or mitigate those risks.
- Simplexity Thinking : It is a powerful tool that helps to encourage creativity and helps to solve complicated problems in the organization.
- To fix a Mission or Vision statement to your plan: After analyzing the current situation of the organization, the next step is to determine an aim for our plans. First, you must fix your Vision and Mission of our organization. The vision statement of an organization means the privilege that an organization will provide to its customers, and the mission statement will explain how we can achieve the vision of your organization.
- Examine your Results or options from previous steps: After completing the first two steps, we get several options to establish our planning. We must go through every record one by one and prepare data regarding the economic and social feasibility of the plan. In this step, you can sort the available data and identify the best plans that suit your organization and help in its development.
- Identify the best plan: After examining the previous results and options, you need to find the best plan. To find out the best possible outcome, you need to calculate the cost and risk assessment work for each plan. They can use different methods like Decision Matrix Analysis and Decision Trees for the selection process. After selecting the best one, you can move to the next phase of the cycle.
- Detailed planning: You need to identify the most efficient and suitable way to execute our plans. For proper planning, you need to answer many WH questions like who, where, why, what, and when. The detailed planning helps you to identify cost controls and quality assurance of the business are in place. If some deviations occur from the actual plan, you can quickly point out those deviations in the early stage and can solve those issues. If you are working out with priorities and deadlines, the techniques like Critical Path Analysis and Gantt Charts helps to make your work easier.
- Impact of the plan: The next step is to review the impact of the plan and need to decide whether you should execute it. If it shows some negative results at this stage, you can drop this plan and continue with others before investing your funds and valuable time in it. There are different methods to calculate the impact of the plan in different circumstances.
- Quantitative Pros and Cons: By using this method, you can list the pros and cons of your plan in two different columns and allocate positive and negative points for each data accordingly. Then identify the difference between the positive and negative points to find the impact of your plan.
- Cost/Benefit Analysis: In a financial sense, you can compare all expenditures for executing this plan with the expected benefits.
- Force Field Analysis: This will give you a detailed report about the factors for and against your plan on a large platform.
- Cash Flow Forecast: The cash flow forecast deals with the cash inflow and outflow for an organization. By evaluating this cash flow statement, we can analyze the impact of our plan.
- Execute your plan: Once you complete all these steps and finalize your decision, then it’s time to execute the plan. Then you can monitor the real-time performance of the plan.
- Stop executing the Plan and Review: After completing the current cycle, you must stop running your plan. Create a review of the execution of your plan and can refer to this data for future planning.
Every organization has its own goals or targets that they should achieve shortly. To attain this goal, they need to plan their daily activities accordingly. The Business Planning Cycle helps them to implement plans in a systematic way to achieve their goal. It helps to identify the threats in the early stages of planning and allow you to modify your plans accordingly for better results. Proper Business Planning Cycle will reduce the risk in investments and attract more people to start their own business.
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Home PowerPoint Templates Cycle Diagram Templates for PowerPoint & Presentations
Cycle Diagram Templates for PowerPoint & Presentations
Download editable cycle diagram templates for PowerPoint presentations, including circular diagram slide designs and process cycle diagram templates.
These highly customizable diagram templates have been designed to create PowerPoint diagrams depicting business cycles, production processes and other types of cycle diagrams related to diverse topics ranging from environmental models to educational content.
These cycle diagram templates serve as a good resource for making PowerPoint presentations, official diagrams and printable designs, using templates related to business specific topics, as well as generic layouts that you can mould to suit your requirements.
6-Step Cycle Diagram PowerPoint Template with Arrows
5 Step Cycle Process Diagram PowerPoint Template
Cycle Diagram with Joined Parts for PowerPoint
4 Step 2 Level Cycle Diagram with Core for PowerPoint
Real Estate Cycle Diagram Template for PowerPoint
Cycling PowerPoint Template
PDSA Diagram PowerPoint Template
Convection Diagram PowerPoint Template
Moon Phases PowerPoint Template
Problem Solving PPDAC Diagram PowerPoint Template
Habits Diagram PowerPoint Template
The Habit Loop Diagram for PowerPoint
Weisbord Six Box Model PowerPoint Template
Cycle Time PowerPoint Template
8-Item Flywheel Diagram Template for PowerPoint
Hero’s Journey Editable Diagram for PowerPoint
Our 100% cycle diagram templates come in different shapes and flavors. You can download cycle diagrams with a circular format or other cycle diagram designs including slices, swirl effects, or unique cycle diagram ideas.
What is the cycle diagram?
Just as the name denotes, it is used to portray the repeated interaction between a series of events in a circular manner.
It is a perfect pattern for presenting topics like money flow in an economy, carbon cycle, water cycle, etc.
How can Cycle Diagrams be used in Presentations?
There are multiple ways to use Cycle diagrams in presentations. A cycle diagram can be used when the presenter needs to describe a process that does not have a start or end. Depending on the process or the concept to be told, a cycle diagram can have a different number of steps or components.
How do you make a cycle diagram in PowerPoint?
Select shapes in the Illustrations group on the Insert tab. Choose the hollow circle shape on the shapes list in the block arrows group. Paste the hollow circle on your slide, inflect it by using the yellow point, and then attach an arrow or isosceles triangle to indicate direction. This arrow or triangle can be copied and pasted three times and then rotated to the position you want.
Finally, fragment by choosing the merge shapes dropdown list in the insert shapes group on the Format tab under the drawing tools. Select parts you need for the first arrow and select union from where you selected fragment.
Repeat the last two steps for the other three arrows; remove the central part, which should be fragmented, and you will see the result that you want.
How do you insert a cycle diagram?
Click shapes on the insert tab, under the basic shapes, and then select oval.
Click on the point you want the oval to begin and drag to draw your shape. You can draw a circle by pressing Shift while you drag.
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Module 3: Planning and Mission
The planning cycle, learning outcomes.
- Explain the stages of the planning cycle.
- Explain why the planning cycle is an essential part of running a business.
Organizations have goals they want to achieve, so they must consider the best way of reaching their goals and must decide the specific steps to be taken. However, this is not a linear, step-by-step process. It is an iterative process with each step reconsidered as more information is gathered. As organizations go through the planning, they may realize that a different approach is better and go back to start again.
Remember that planning is only one of the management functions and that the functions themselves are part of a cycle. Planning, and in fact all of the management functions, is a cycle within a cycle. For most organizations, new goals are continually being made or existing goals get changed, so planning never ends. It is a continuing, iterative process.
In the following discussion, we will look at the steps in the planning cycle as a linear process. But keep in mind that at any point in the process, the planner may go back to an earlier step and start again.
Stages in the Planning Cycle
The stages in the planning cycle
The first, and most crucial, step in the planning process is to determine what is to be accomplished during the planning period. The vision and mission statements provide long-term, broad guidance on where the organization is going and how it will get there. The planning process should define specific goals and show how the goals support the vision and mission. Goals should be stated in measurable terms where possible. For example, a goal should be “to increase sales by 15 percent in the next quarter” not “increase sales as much as possible.”
Planning requires making some assumptions about the future. We know that conditions will change as plans are implemented and managers need to make forecasts about what the changes will be. These include changes in external conditions (laws and regulations, competitors’ actions, new technology being available) and internal conditions (what the budget will be, the outcome of employee training, a new building being completed). These assumptions are called the plan premises. It is important that these premises be clearly stated at the start of the planning process. Managers need to monitor conditions as the plan is implemented. If the premises are not proven accurate, the plan will likely have to be changed.
There may be more than one way to achieve a goal. For example, to increase sales by 12 percent, a company could hire more salespeople, lower prices, create a new marketing plan, expand into a new area, or take over a competitor. Managers need to identify possible alternatives and evaluate how difficult it would be to implement each one and how likely each one would lead to success. It is valuable for managers to seek input from different sources when identifying alternatives. Different perspectives can provide different solutions.
Next, managers must determine the resources needed to implement the plan. They must examine the resources the organization currently has, what new resources will be needed, when the resources will be needed, and where they will come from. The resources could include people with particular skills and experience, equipment and machinery, technology, or money. This step needs to be done in conjunction with the previous one, because each alternative requires different resources. Part of the evaluation process is determining the cost and availability of resources.
Plan and implement tasks
Management will next create a road map that takes the organization from where it is to its goal. It will define tasks at different levels in the organizations, the sequence for completing the tasks, and the interdependence of the tasks identified. Techniques such as Gantt charts and critical path planning are often used to help establish and track schedules and priorities.
Determine tracking and evaluation methods
It is very important that managers can track the progress of the plan. The plan should determine which tasks are most critical, which tasks are most likely to encounter problems, and which could cause bottlenecks that could delay the overall plan. Managers can then determine performance and schedule milestones to track progress. Regular monitoring and adjustment as the plan is implemented should be built into the process to assure things stay on track.
The planning cycle: essential part of running a business.
Following the planning cycle process assures the essential aspects of running a business are completed. In addition, the planning process itself can have benefits for the organization. The essential activities include the following:
- Maintaining organizational focus: Defining specific goals requires managers to consider the vision, mission, and values of the organization and how these will be operationalized. The methods and selected goals can demonstrate that the vision, mission, and values statements are working documents that are not just for show but prescribe activities.
- Encouraging diverse participation: Planning activities provide an opportunity for input from different functions, departments, and people. Some organizations establish planning committees that intentionally include people from diverse backgrounds to bring new perspectives into the planning process.
- Empowering and motivating employees: When people are involved in developing plans they will be more committed to the plans. Allowing diverse input into the planning cycle empowers people to contribute and motivates them to support the outcomes.
There are several stages, or steps, in the planning process. It is not unusual to have to repeat steps as conditions change. This process is essential to a business to maintain focus, gather diverse opinions, and empower and motivate employees.
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- The Planning Cycle. Authored by : John/Lynn Bruton and Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
- Image: Stages in the Planning Cycle. Authored by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
A strong annual plan builds on the company’s broader strategic vision and core values while still providing specific goals, metrics, and budgets to guide managers and employees. If it’s doing its job, the annual business plan is also flexible enough to adapt to an unpredictable and often volatile market.
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What is annual planning?
An annual business plan is a road map for a company and its employees. It contains milestones that carry the plan forward through a series of smaller goals that lead to a broader vision of where the business aims to be by the end of the year.
When a new year arrives, many people make plans and resolutions for the coming 12 months. They look back at the previous year and consider what worked for them and what they want to improve. Then they plan what goals they want to achieve, from getting out of debt to losing weight to learning a new language. Similarly, a company or organization will use an annual business plan to tighten its belt, improve performance, and reach specific goals over the coming year.
Whether using an annual business plan template or working from scratch, a company will review the expectations and results from the previous year in order to create an annual plan that gives everyone in the organization a sense of where they’re headed and how they will get there.
Why annual planning is important.
An annual business plan empowers workers to set specific business goals based on the company’s overarching strategy, and it also holds teams accountable for achieving stated goals.
The annual plan connects directly to where a company wants to be in 3 to 5 years and defines what’s critical to achieve over the next year to progress toward longer-term targets.
A well-formulated annual plan also keeps the workforce united and focused, energizing them to be more productive.
Additional benefits of an annual business plan include:
- Providing a stronger connection to the strategic plan
- Putting the mission of the organization into daily practice
- Providing workers with a clear sense of direction in their departments or roles
What’s the difference between an annual plan and a strategic plan?
In the strategic planning process , an organization describes or affirms its mission, deciding what it wants to achieve over the next few years (vision) and setting strategic priorities to help make that vision a reality.
The strategic plan works hand in hand with the annual business plan. The former provides an overarching vision of what the company wants to achieve, and the annual plan provides the nuts and bolts of the necessary work to be done over the coming year.
So, the annual business plan depends on the strategy for its priorities, and the strategy depends on the annual plan to execute its ideas about the organization’s vision, mission, purpose, and goals. Logistics, projects, allocation of resources, and timing are covered in the annual plan.
Preparing to create an annual plan.
Before you can look ahead, you need to first look back, take what you’ve learned, and recommit yourself to your company’s values and priorities. Thus, reviewing your old plan and assessing its results against expectations is an important first step.
You should also review your company’s:
- Mission statement: This is a guiding declaration that describes what your company does and differentiates you from your competition.
- Vision statement : This is an aspirational statement about what your company wants to become—an important factor in setting the annual plan’s priorities.
- Core values: These are the principles, beliefs, and philosophies that shape your company’s culture and support your vision for the future.
- Financial information, including budgeting: This is important because annual planning is connected to the budgetary approval process for the next fiscal year, including anticipated revenue, expenses, and growth predictions.
- Key problems and issues: By understanding what went wrong the previous year and the issues it faced, a company can offer remedies in its annual plan to improve future outcomes.
What is included in an annual plan?
There are many annual business plan templates you can use to make your plan. Generally, they contain these elements:
Stated goals (SMART)
Your yearly plan should include both SMART and stretch goals.
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals are an enduring staple of the business world, helping to clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, ensure your time and resources are used productively, and increase your chances of success. Stretch goals, as the name suggests, require above-and-beyond effort and innovation to pull off, with the promise of a greater payoff. Include a mixture of both in your annual plan.
Budget and financials
An annual plan also includes projections for the coming 12 months, forecasting income and outlays. Your projections will help you plan for cash flow dips, pinpoint financing needs, and decide the best timing for projects.
Part of this involves developing monthly financial projections by recording expected income based on sales forecasts and anticipated expenses for labor, supplies, overhead, and so on. It’s wise to prepare a projected income (profit and loss) statement and a balance sheet projection.
You can also use the projections to determine financing needs, if any. Well-prepared projections will make it easier to qualify for a loan.
Timelines and checkpoints
To reach where you want your business to be in a year, take your larger goals and split them up into smaller goals set on specific timelines. As you set your deadlines, include metrics that will indicate how successful you’ve been in achieving your goals.
Clearly outlined expectations and responsibilities
An annual business plan works best if it’s aspirational but achievable, with practical goals that are spelled out in clear language, indicating which individuals, teams, or departments are responsible for which parts of the plan. Given that almost 50% of employees in the United States don’t know what is expected of them at work, a little bit of clarity can go a long way.
Vision for what the business looks like at the end of the year
As much as annual business plans are about the practical implementation of a company’s strategy, it’s also important to keep the organization’s aspirational future vision in mind. Having a clear vision of what successful completion of your annual planning goals looks like increases your chances of success.
What happens if your company’s cash flow gets into trouble? It’s a good idea to set up emergency financial reservoirs before they’re necessary. Maintaining a cash reserve or keeping room in a line of credit are both good contingency measures. Remember to compare your actual financial results to your projections throughout the year, so you can spot financial problems before they spiral out of control.
Creating an annual plan is easier when you use the right tools. These can include an annual business plan template that organizes planning efforts and a wide variety of software solutions for writing business and strategy plans.
As you execute your annual plan, it’s also a good idea to rely on a work management platform with strategic planning tools that allow you to collaborate productively, create content, and manage complex processes. Using features like Workfront's Scenario Planner , you can simplify the annual planning process, adapt to market shifts with continuous planning, compare scenarios for risk and effectiveness, and stay ahead of the competition.
Armed with the right tools, plans, and processes, you can create a well-conceived and executed annual business plan that ensures the year ahead lives up to your expectations.
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The 15 most popular strategic planning templates on our site, don’t waste time putting together your own strategic planning template. adopt one of these and make it your own..
The basis of strategic planning is simple: Your organization is at point A. You need to get to point B in three to five years. What are you going to do to make that happen?
Creating this vision is straightforward (and usually pretty fun). But actually managing the strategic plan that executes this vision isn’t always simple...or fun. In fact, looking at your strategic plan on a regular basis throughout the year and actually taking the steps to achieve the plan described above is something that tangles up many organizations. I’ve been in this business over 20 years and one of my first tips would be to start with a solid strategic plan template instead of trying to start from scratch.
What is a strategic plan template?
It’s a premade tool you can use to flesh out the various elements of your strategy—a technique that allows you to follow the example of others, without having to recreate each component from scratch.
One important thing to remember: Using templates doesn’t mean using someone else’s strategy. Rather, it means building your own strategic plan using the template as a jumping-off point.
But trust us—trying to put together a strategic plan, strategy map, or Balanced Scorecard sans template is a whole lot harder. Why do that when you can leverage other people’s experience, and then focus on making a strategy of your own?
Below are our 15 most popular strategic plan templates. And by popular, we mean these resources have been downloaded a total of 350,000 times. Each was created with a different audience in mind, so take a look at the descriptions below to determine which ones are best for your organization.
The 15 Most-Used Strategic Plan Templates On Our Site
1. strategy execution toolkit.
Downloaded 67,800 times.
Does the following sound like your situation?
Your strategic planning process could be described as anything from a bit of a circus to an absolute nightmare. Your purpose statement is outdated, your goals are disjointed, and your leadership team is in different stages of frustration or dismay. You’re ready for change but aren’t exactly sure how to get started.
If you can relate to that scenario, then this strategic plan template is about to become your best friend. It’s a detailed, 41-page process manual that guides you through the steps of pulling together your Balanced Scorecard. In the end, you’ll have a filled-out strategy map template and see a light at the end of the strategic planning tunnel.
2. Balanced Scorecard Template [Excel]
Downloaded 48,300 times.
If you’re familiar with the ClearPoint blog, you’ve no doubt read about using Excel for reporting or as a Balanced Scorecard template. While it’s essentially free, simple enough to use, and familiar to most people, there are challenges involved ranging from data entry errors to collaboration difficulties if you choose Excel for your reporting.
That said, if you’re just getting started with the Balanced Scorecard, compiling your data in Excel may be a logical first step before migrating to more robust scorecarding software. Sound like your situation? Sweet. Then this no-nonsense, single-page Excel scorecard will be right up your alley.
It allows you to visualize how your measures and objectives are connected (and how/if they’re in line with your strategy), and track your KPI targets to make sure you’ll meet your goals.
3. Financial KPI Library Downloaded 40,500 times.
We’ll give you one guess as to which type of metrics are the most commonly used. If you said “financial,” you’d be right.
As the old saying goes, numbers never lie and this couldn’t be more true than with financial KPIs. These indicators are important for every type of organization because they reveal clear, indisputable truths about progress. You can see if you’re reaching or missing your goals, and why. Plus, you have the means to compare your success to competitors and determine if you’re above or below the bar that’s been set for your industry.
Which specific financial KPIs should you monitor? Well, that can be tricky and it really depends on the goals and priorities of your organization. To give you somewhere to start, we gathered a huge list of financial indicators you can choose from—all of them will help you operate more strategically instead of relying on guesstimates.
This KPI library includes 68 important financial KPIs and descriptions of each, which you can download in a user-friendly Excel format.
4. HR KPI Library
Downloaded 37,800 times.
HR metrics provide a different perspective on your performance than financial metrics, but they’re just as useful: HR metrics help organizations make the important people-related decisions—around hiring, turnover, culture, employee performance, etc.—that have a direct effect on organizational performance. Having the ability to hire and retain the right talent is often regarded as one of the greatest predictors of organizational success. Additionally, HR metrics are useful for keeping staff focused on activities that support the department’s—and the company’s—overall goals.
The HR metrics you choose should be tied to your business goals, so you won’t want to use anywhere near the 48 HR KPIs in this resource! Determine the critical few KPIs that are in line with your strategy—perhaps one for every major HR goal and people management issue or opportunity—so you can focus on following through.
5. Customer KPI Library
Downloaded 25,800 times.
It won’t surprise you that another KPI library is our fifth most popular strategic plan template. These KPI lists are go-to resources when you need straightforward, specific advice you can implement immediately.
The Customer KPI Library is no different. Virtually all organizations have customers, clients, citizens, or consumers they need to keep happy, which requires understanding their needs and behaviors. Monitoring and measuring the right indicators will help you dial in to shifting customer demands, so you can exceed expectations and address any negative perceptions before they snowball.
This resource includes 53 valuable customer KPIs, with definitions, in an accessible Excel format.
6. Strategic Planning Templates
There’s no single right way to chart a path to achieving your goals; in fact, there are plenty! All strategic planning models are designed for the same purpose, they just have different ways of getting you there. In this download, we compiled templates for eight of the most popular strategic planning frameworks into one Excel document. You don't need to (and shouldn't) use all of them, but check them out and choose the template that works best for your organization.
- Balanced Scorecard
- Strategy Map
- SWOT Analysis
- PEST Analysis
- Gap Planning
- Blue Ocean Analysis
- VRIO Analysis
- Porter’s Five Forces
7. 5 For-Profit Strategy Maps
Downloaded 23,900 times.
Jeopardy! juggernaut Ken Jennings once said, “Even before you understand them, your brain is drawn to maps.” He’s right—we are drawn to them (nearly 24,000 times, in this case!). Whether they’re depicting elevations and landscapes or goals and strategies, maps are intriguing and memorable because they convey a lot of information with simple graphics.
For companies, maps are incredibly valuable tools to organize, explain, and communicate strategies. A Balanced Scorecard is one of the most common formats for strategy maps and an effective way to stay focused on your goals. Sometimes seeing is believing, so we pulled together five examples of strategy maps from real-life, for-profit companies in four different industries. Check them out to get ideas for your own organization.
8. Healthcare KPI Library
Downloaded 20,900 times.
Not many businesses can say that the quality of their products or services could literally mean the difference between life and death, but for healthcare organizations, it’s the truth. On top of that, change is a constant in healthcare—there’s always a new regulation just around the corner. For both these reasons, performance monitoring is a must.
A healthcare KPI helps you understand how your organization is performing across a multitude of areas, from patient care and operations to finances and community relations. A good KPI should be well defined, quantifiable, and crucial to achieving your strategic goals. This resource includes more than 100 sample healthcare metrics as examples—choose the ones that are relevant to your organization’s needs, or use them as inspiration for measuring progress toward your own unique objectives.
9. Healthcare Strategy Maps
Downloaded 11,900 times.
For-profits aren’t the only ones that benefit from using strategy maps—medical and healthcare organizations can, too. The trick is to create a map that isn’t overly complicated, yet still manages to clearly convey the key “landmarks” that will define your future success.
It can be hard to know what that looks like in practice, so we gathered a few Balanced Scorecard strategy map examples from the healthcare field and included them in this download. The information presented in this offering pertains specifically to the various types of healthcare systems and institutions.
10. Measure & Goal Evaluation Toolkit
Downloaded 15,400 times.
Next question: Are you able to objectively evaluate your measures and goals?
In other words, can you keep emotion out of your evaluations? Do you know if you’re really executing well on your strategy from the data you’re gathering?
If you’re even a bit hesitant on this, try this toolkit . You’ll learn about establishing RAG statuses, automating the evaluation process, and helping leadership make better choices. (Note that having goals and measures is a prerequisite for this toolkit to be helpful.)
11. The All-Inclusive Strategy Reporting Guide
Downloaded 11,300 times.
Creating a solid internal reporting process is no easy task. But it’s also incredibly important to outline how reporting should be done in your organization, ranging from scorecard management to meeting preparation. Without proper reporting, you won’t be able to track progress, pinpoint problems, or achieve goals.
Not sure how to tackle this big job? Check out this all-inclusive guide, which includes best practices on strategic reporting and policy. It explains the strategic planning process and gives tips on how to create a successful reporting guide. You’ll have all the information you need to create a reporting process that works.
12. Nonprofit Strategy Maps
Downloaded 9,900 times.
To advance their mission, nonprofits and charitable organizations should also engage in strategic planning. Like for-profit companies, strategy maps for nonprofits serve as a communication tool that engages internal teams and even community members, helping to rally everyone behind the shared mission. This download includes a few strategy map best practices, as well as a number of useful examples for social and public-sector organizations.
13. Project Management Field Guide
Downloaded 7,400 times.
Most of the work being done at organizations today is project-based, which is why the demand for project managers has risen rapidly in recent years. (It’s also the reason why good project management matters.) But before you worry about things like budgets and timelines, it’s crucial to take a step back and make sure you’re managing the right projects—the ones that align with your strategy and will actually help you achieve your organization’s goals.
If your organization is trying to learn more about strategic project management, use this download as your “getting started” guide. It will help you think through your approach to projects, including how to define and prioritize them, and make sure they link back to your strategy. This ebook is chock full of pro tips and helpful examples that will take your project management skills to the next level.
14. Gantt Chart Template [Excel]
Downloaded 5,900 times.
Gantt charts help you visually lay out the length and progress of a particular project all in one place. They’re very helpful in project management—and this Excel template makes it a cinch to create one!
This template is a great way to get your team on the same page for what is on track and off track, and it will help you facilitate a discussion about what to do for next steps. You’ll get some instructions and directions for the template, details on initiatives and supporting milestones, and a graph that auto-populates to show progress toward your goals.
15. How To Lead Effective Strategy Review Meetings
Downloaded 7,200 times.
Too many meetings are all talk and no action. A lot of great ideas may be floated around, but they just disappear when everyone leaves the room. Strategy review meetings are notorious for this “disappearing act” because many of the topics are high-level and visionary, which can be challenging to break down into specific execution steps.
The ability to make strategy review meetings useful is a skill—a skill you can easily learn if you think your reviews are going off the rails too often. There are several key elements to focus on and they are all included in this 40-page book, aptly titled “How To Lead Effective Strategy Review Meetings.” You’ll read about the best structure for strategy meetings, tips for creating action items, and pitfalls to avoid.
Before you start filling out your shiny new strategic planning templates, let’s just lay this out flat:
Don’t fill out one of these strategic plan templates, make it your own...and then forget about it.
I know what you’re thinking; you’re not going to fall into that trap.
But even if that’s not your intention, it will take time and considerable effort to keep your new template in use across the organization. One way to ensure it is actually helpful to you (and not just a nice thumbnail on your desktop) is to get buy-in from your senior leadership team. This could take time but once you have an advocate in that group, you’ll help create more buy-in across the organization. In no time you’ll be the hero of strategic planning in your company.
Balanced Scorecard — 8 min read
The Balanced Scorecard: What Is It? (Definition + Examples)
Balanced scorecard — 18 min read.
20 Strategic Planning Models To Consider
Balanced scorecard — 13 min read, how to effectively communicate your strategic plan to employees.
By Andreas Hofmann
Annual Planning Templates: How to Make your 2021 Annual Plan
It’s that time of the year when annual planning returns to the top of your list. And while you already have some great ideas in mind, the hardest part is to document and lay out the whole plan. So today I’ll show you 15 free annual planning templates you can download right away and use in the making of your annual business plan.
What’s an Annual Plan?
Before we start, let’s be clear on what “Annual Plan” means. An annual business plan is a work plan that outlines the goals, resources and operations a company will execute in a 1-year period. It usually includes an annual budget, project deadlines, roles and responsibilities. In other words, the annual plan acts as a roadmap for the organization and aligns internal teams to the yearly business goals.
As you can see, the annual plan sets the direction a company will go for the next 12 months. But, how to do annual planning? It really depends on how big the company is and how detailed you want your work plan to be. In the following section, I’ll cover all the essentials you need to make a strong annual plan.
How to Create a Successful Annual Plan? (+ Free Planning PowerPoint Templates)
Most people know that annual planning involves assessing past results, setting realistic goals and defining how to achieve them. But it doesn’t end there! A crucial part of the annual business plan is the implementation and for this you need to effectively communicate the new strategies. To make all this happen, the 24Slides designers have created a selection of amazing PowerPoint templates to help you in the process of making and sharing your annual plan. Let’s see each step in more detail below:
Step #1: Assess Your Current Situation
Planning is all about reading a situation and making informed choices. So step #1 in your annual planning process is to review last year . It’s important to determine what worked and what didn’t work for the business. To do this you can gather data from past reports or talk to managers from each area. You can also interview key roles like customer service reps to know what clients liked or disliked from your products. All the activities in this stage should help you identify what went well and what could be improved next year.
To maximize your productivity, use a planning tool like the December calendar template . It will help you manage your time and keep things running smoothly from the beginning. In this template, you’ll find horizontal and vertical December calendars you can pick from to visualize your monthly activities. And if you prefer to see each event in detail, opt for this corporate agenda template .
Once you have all the information you need, it’s time to put together your findings and conclusions. For this, the Business Review template is a great platform to showcase the analysis you’ve done so far. It features charts, diagrams, and timelines to review key areas such as finances, marketing, operations, sales, and others. Plus, having your initial ideas in a structured report will make your annual planning easier as you can come back to these points at any time in the process.
The most important advice I can give you for this step is to be honest with yourself. Remember that you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so being objective while assessing your current situation is crucial.
Step #2: Set Goals and Priorities
Now that you know where you stand, it’s time to look ahead. Where do you want the company to be next year? This is where you think about all the possibilities and pick the ones that can work within the situation of the business (that’s why the first step was so important!). I’m sure there are a million things you’d like your team to accomplish, but you need to be realistic with your annual goals.
A good practice to start goal-setting with the right foot is to identify the business priorities . And for this, Pyramid diagrams are perfect to order topics in a hierarchical way. With these triangle shapes, you’ll be able to rank “problems to solve” according to its relevance, available resources, or impact on the business. This approach allows you to set criteria for every topic you want to work on and see what you should address first in your annual plan.
With all this in place, you already have a clear sense of where the company is going and now you’re ready to use one of the most powerful tools for annual planning: the OKR framework template
Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a goal-setting system that makes you focus on your annual goals and how to make them happen. First, you set your Objectives, which should answer: What do you want to achieve next year? And then your Key Results or the measurable ways you can prove you’re achieving the objectives. Here’s a simple OKR example :
- Objective: Improve your brand presence online
- Key Result 1: Hit 200,000 visits to your website every month
- Key Result 2: Collaborate with 5 micro-influencers in a product release campaign
Check out this article to learn more about how to set your OKR goals !
Step #3: Define Your Strategies and Actions
Next on your list is the HOW of your plan . Note that in the OKR framework, your Key Results work as strategies for reaching your objectives. This means you can go straight to defining your actions. However, if you’re still new to OKRs, use this visual method:
Circle mind maps are simple yet powerful tools to come up with new ideas. Just place your goals at the center and use the branches for the actions your company should take. This is a great way to focus on what you want to accomplish while mapping out your business strategies . Here are some examples: Improving your customer service, targeting a particular niche, or increasing your company’s sustainability. Remember that they should be aligned to your goals and broad enough to break them into actions.
Following, you can use Gantt charts to plan out the actions involved in each strategy. These corporate Gantt charts are perfect to distribute your team activities throughout the year and set monthly or quarterly deadlines. You can also color-code events according to their status. As you can see, Gantt charts are an easy way to organize strategies and actions for the annual business plan.
And here’s an extra annual planning template! If you want to group your objectives, strategies, and actions in a single place, check out the 30 60 90 business plan template . It has creative timelines, a table chart, milestone slides, and more to showcase everything you’ve worked on so far. The great thing about a 30-60-90 plan is that it allows you to implement quickly and test your plan in the first 3 months. This way you can see if you’re on the right path to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be next year.
Step #4: Share the Action Plan with your Team
One of the top reasons plans fail is because there’s no clear implementation strategy. Thus, it becomes hard – if not impossible- to integrate the annual plan into the day-to-day operations. Luckily, we’ve addressed all this in step #3, but there’s still one thing left: communicate the HOW to your team .
What’s the use of putting together a great annual plan if you can’t execute it, right? That’s why a detailed action plan is key to help your staff understand how their efforts contribute to the company’s success.
And when it comes to sharing a work plan, this template is a must-have in your annual planning toolkit. The Work Plan PowerPoint template will help you showcase the next projects and activities. You can include business goals and key results so everyone knows what the company expects from them. And the best thing is that it’s full of engaging visual elements to hold your team’s attention exactly where you want it to be.
However, this stage is not only about stating what needs to be done, but also who is responsible for each action. To keep a common understanding of who does what in your plan, use the RACI Matrix template . With these charts you’ll be able to distribute tasks evenly and assign key responsibilities according to the RACI criteria: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. As a leader, you know how crucial effective communication is when managing teams, for that reason a RACI Matrix could be a great addition to the delivery of your action plan.
At this point, we’ve covered from activities and resources to deadlines and roles , which leaves your team ready to carry out the annual business plan.
Step #5: Implement and Review
The most common mistake in planning is believing that it ends when everything is up and running. And sure, it’s a huge accomplishment that what you had on paper is being executed in the real world. But don’t let that fool you! Your annual plan has one step more: Review the results.
The purpose of this stage is to evaluate the performance of your plan and determine whether your annual objectives were met. And, although most people do this at the end of the year, a recommended practice is to conduct these reviews every three months . This gives you the opportunity to see what’s working or not early in the year and adjust the direction of your actions on time.
Use the Quarterly Business Review template to compare your current metrics to the objectives you’ve established in step #2 . It has roadmaps and data charts to review your business performance, analyze quarterly projects, and monitor your team’s progress. Plus, with this corporate template, you’ll be ready to present early results to key investors or any other stakeholder interested in how the company is doing.
And there you have it: The 5-step annual planning process! But remember that it works like a cycle. Planning is iterative: you ideate, execute, review, and take what you’ve learned from the experience back to step #1 . This way you’re able to gain insights on what works best and craft stronger annual plans each year.
PRO TIP: How to Really Nail your Annual Planning?
Traditionally, people associate annual plans with large documents. The ones loaded with data and projections about the company. And while it’s important to have your annual plan in a well-organized document; this doesn’t add much to step #4: Sharing the action plan with your team .
Think about it: On top of their day-to-day tasks, will your team be able to read a text-heavy document from cover to cover? Of course not! And a huge part of your annual plan success involves getting everyone on board and excited about the upcoming projects. So, how about making your annual plan a presentation instead?
With an annual plan presentation, you’ll have control over how the company vision is delivered than through a Word document. This is also a great opportunity to motivate your team over what’s to come and resolve any question they might have. And what’s even more important: By the end of the day, you’ll make sure everyone is on the same page about the company’s direction for the upcoming year. It’s a win-win!
You can start building your presentation right now with the annual planning templates you’ve seen above. They’re all from Templates by 24Slides , our platform of free PowerPoint resources . Here you can download thousands of corporate PowerPoint templates and even opt for templates according to the industry you work in! Look at these examples:
Digital Marketing Agency PowerPoint Presentation
Digital marketing agencies move in a fast-evolving sector and it’s important that they refresh their strategies and services every now and then. With this dark-themed template agencies can showcase all they envision for the future and share the guidelines to make it happen. There are elegant visual elements like diagrams and lists to help deliver a solid business plan presentation.
Mobile Banking PowerPoint Presentation
This eye-catching template is for companies in the banking industry! If a mobile app is in the works, this creative template is ideal to share the plan with your team. It comes with amazing roadmaps, circle diagrams, and data-driven charts to display every detail of your annual plan. It even features mobile phone and tablet mockups! In short, the most complete presentation template you’ll find on mobile banking services.
Remote Onboarding PowerPoint Presentation
With the increase of remote work, it’s not difficult to guess that onboarding processes will need some adapting too. If your company plans for next year include the transition to remote onboarding, this template is for you. You’ll be able to show project goals, the open positions for each area, the steps to establish a new employee onboarding program, and more.
E-commerce Icon Set for Presentations
But presentation templates are not the only thing you can find on our Templates by 24Slides platform. There are also vector icons for your slides. Like the ones on top! E-commerce and online businesses can now use PowerPoint icons to enhance their annual plan presentation. They work wonders for showing processes, new site features or to easily explain something that otherwise would involve large chunks of text. Use them wisely!
Professional PowerPoint Design for your 2021 Annual Plan
Annual planning templates are definitely a great idea, but what happens when fiddling with PowerPoint the entire weekend is not your thing? Well, there’s an option for that too: Get your own custom annual plan presentation! Here at 24Slides , our PowerPoint designers can create a fully customized presentation for you. This means that instead of showing your strategies in old-fashioned bullet points, you’ll get to deliver your annual plan through a delightful visual experience for everyone. Including fussy managers and investors!
You send us average PowerPoint slides…
…and we give you extraordinary results – in just 24 hours!
Check out the 24Slides PowerPoint design services and take your annual plan presentation to the next level!
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Business Plan Template for Small Businesses, Startups, and Entrepreneurs
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- Instructions included More than just a template, you’ll learn how to write a winning business plan
- SBA-lender approved format Your plan will be in the format lenders and investors expect
- Fill-in-the-blanks simplicity You don’t need to be an expert, this template makes business planning easy
- 100% free We’re here to help you succeed in business, no strings attached
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Why you need a business plan.
- Develop a strategy for success
- Reduce the risk of starting a business
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- Gives you an investor-ready and SBA-approved business plan format.
- Speeds up the planning process.
- Oh, and it’s 100% free!
What is included in this business plan template?
- Company Purpose
- Problem We Solve
- Our Solution
- Target Customers
- Financial Summary
- Funding Needed
- Intellectual Property/Patents
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- Market Trends
- Industry Analysis
- Key Customers
- Sales Channels
- Marketing Activities
- Pricing Strategy
- SWOT Analysis
- Company Structure
- Management Team
- Projected Profit & Loss
- Projected Balance Sheet
- Projected Cash Flow Statement
- Use of Funds
- Exit Strategy
- Additional Documentation
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Build a Better Strategic Plan for Your Function
Strategic planning maps the initiatives and portfolio of investments required to achieve long-term strategic objectives.
Capture your function’s strategic plan on a single page
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Strategic Planning That Works for Functional Leaders
Implementing strategy often takes too long and costs more than expected. Turn enterprise strategy into functional initiatives with a succinct plan you can easily communicate to stakeholders.
Use this framework to:
- Translate enterprise ambitions into a strategic plan your function can actually use.
- Focus on specific key initiatives and actions for your function.
- Create a simple one-page view that’s both easy to follow and communicate.
4 Critical Things to Know About Strategic Planning
Especially in times of disruption, it’s key to understand what strategic planning is and does, what assumptions you need and how to leverage the value of adaptive strategy and scenario planning.
- What is strat planning?
- Strategic assumptions
- Scenario planning
- Adaptive strategy
Strategy and strategic plans: How they are different and why it matters
Strategy creates a common understanding of what an organization wants to achieve and what it needs to do to meet its goals. Strategic plans bridge the gap from overall direction to specific projects and day-to-day actions that ultimately execute the strategy. Job No. 1 is to know the difference between strategy and strategic plans — and why it matters.
- Strategy defines the long-term direction of the enterprise. It articulates what the enterprise will do to compete and succeed in its chosen markets or, for the public sector, what the agency will do to achieve its mission.
- Strategic planning defines how the enterprise will realize its strategic ambitions in the midterm. Too often, strategic plans are created and then forgotten until the next planning cycle begins. A well-done strategic plan turns an enterprise strategy into a clear roadmap of initiatives, actions and investments required to execute the strategy and meet business goals.
- Functional strategic plans document the choices and actions needed for the function to move from the current state to the desired end state, and contribute effectively to the enterprise business model and goals.
- Business unit strategic plans define and finalize business unit goals, objectives and initiatives, while cognizant of enterprise priorities and external trends.
- Operational plans deal with the short-term execution of specific projects and changes, as well as any operational tasks not contained in the strategic plan.
If you’re responsible for functional strategy, such as IT , create strategic frameworks focused only on what’s material — critical assumptions, relevant metrics and the key initiatives your function needs to contribute effectively to organizational goals, even as those goals shift.
Look out for key trends and disruptions and test strategic assumptions
It’s critical to scan and respond to trends and disruptions that could impact your strategy and strategic plans — and change your strategic assumptions. Strategic planning cycles should incorporate some mechanism to vet assumptions for relevance (also see “Scenario Planning”).
Ignoring or devaluing trends and disruptions can leave critical gaps in both your strategic assumptions and your strategic planning process, because you may be overlooking both threats and opportunities for your value proposition and competitive positioning.
One Gartner survey found that only 38% of organizations have a formal process for this type of trendspotting. Gartner scopes the seven key areas of disruptive change as a “TPESTRE” of interconnected trend areas (see figure).
Executives across functions and teams can use the TPESTRE construct to identify key trends at any time — from augmented human experience to purpose-driven organizations and digitally enabled sustainability — and analyze their impact. From there, they can build strategic assumptions around the trends as they begin to map what actions might be needed in terms of business models, people/capabilities, IT systems and resources.
After sudden humanitarian or geopolitical disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a framework like TPESTRE can help you identify and monitor a range of risks that may affect your enterprise or function and you may need to include in scenario planning.
Scenario planning as a strategic planning tool for functions
Scenario planning enables executives and their teams to explore and evaluate plausible alternative futures to make strategic plans more robust and resilient. Pandemic-related disruption and volatility showed the importance of leveraging a range of scenarios to reset business strategy and strategic plans.
Commonly used by strategists at the organizational level, scenario planning at the functional level is just as valuable. Many functional leaders have little experience with strategic scenario planning, even though they may regularly work with their CFO to build budget and forecast scenarios. Those who can learn and apply scenario planning in strategic planning can help their organization navigate volatile and dynamic conditions more effectively, especially in areas like supply chain , where disruption remains high.
Exploring scenarios enables you to determine suitable action plans or strategies for different possible futures. It reveals how to react to a specific future and which set of actions would make sense no matter what conditions ultimately unfold.
For leaders of functional teams, developing scenarios and their underlying assumptions is in itself a useful exercise to corroborate or challenge strategies and keep them current.
The objective of scenario planning is to secure the best immediate outcome while preparing suitable alternative action plans, depending on how a situation unfolds. Proactively agreeing on both near-term operational decisions and long-term strategic plans will reduce the time it takes you to respond to emerging risks and opportunities. This can help your function preempt, rather than reactively control for, the negative effects of a major event or disruption.
- Guide to Scenario Planning for Functional Leaders
- Scenario Planning for Supply Chain Leaders
- Scenario Planning Ignition Guide for Marketing
- Strengthen Your R&D Portfolio With Scenario Planning
Use adaptive strategic planning to enable a dynamic response
In an increasingly volatile and uncertain world, strategy can rapidly become out-of-date. To address this challenge, strategic planning must be adaptive. The faster the rate of change in operating conditions and the more disruptions you need to integrate into long-term strategy, the more adaptive your strategy models must be.
An adaptive strategy approach is what ensures your organization can spot new opportunities earlier and respond more quickly than your competitors, making you most likely to succeed in a dynamic digital world.
A truly adaptive strategy approach is consistent with four core practices (see figure) designed to move the enterprise from a rigid, top-down, calendar-based process to a more event-driven strategy approach. Functional strategy can incorporate the same principles. While a truly adaptive approach will be based on all four core practices, functional leaders can initially focus on the practices that address their immediate strategy challenges.
Rather than requiring perfect or complete information to execute, adaptive strategy uses available information to identify immediate actions required for an enterprise or function to be successful. These actions may range from focusing on high-priority areas to making foundational investments or conducting experiments to test ideas. You can use insights from these actions, along with any new information and analysis, to identify your next set of actions.
Adaptive strategy requires you to review strategy whenever new (and relevant) information becomes available, so it’s important to continually scan the business context to identify changes and review — and, where necessary, adjust — strategy in response to changes. (Also see “Strategic Assumptions.”)
Download your function-specific strategic planning template
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What is strategic planning.
Strategic planning is the process through which enterprises, functions and business units identify the roadmap of initiatives and portfolio of investments that will be required in the medium-term to achieve long-term strategic objectives.
What are the four types of strategic planning and the three levels of strategic planning?
Strategic planning starts with setting strategy at the enterprise level, but that strategy must then be turned into action. The three levels of strategic planning typically refer to corporate vs. business unit and functional. The four types of plans are typically strategic, operational, tactical and contingency.
What steps are involved in the strategic planning process?
To build a successful strategic plan with a consistent and sequential process, functional leaders should:
- Ensure consistent usage of terms to minimize confusion in strategic planning and set a baseline for collaboration.
- Build a strong foundation for more detailed planning by setting or pressure-testing mission, vision and goal statements first.
- Streamline stakeholder input by limiting mission, vision and goal setting to senior leadership, and leaving objective, action plan, measure and metric development to managers with execution expertise.
What are the key elements of strategic planning?
The key elements of a successful strategic plan include:
- Mission and vision. The organization’s mission articulates its reasons for being, and the vision lays out where the organization hopes to be. The strategic plan, which links the two, must be adaptive enough to respond if the context changes during execution.
- Strategic assumptions. To build a successful strategic plan, leadership should scope for trends and disruptions, and assess their potential impact on enterprise goals.
- Strategic plan design. A rigorous strategic planning design effectively translates the strategy into plans that can and will be executed. Poor plans lead to poor execution.
What are the key terms in strategic planning?
- Mission: Organization’s purpose
- Vision: Desired future state
- Goal: Aim
- Objective: How to reach goals
- Action plan: What’s needed to achieve objectives
- Measures and metrics: To track progress toward goals
How do we design a strategic planning system?
Strategic planning “systems” refer to the tools used to document strategic plans. Gartner urges organizations not to focus on strategy in terms of the document they’re creating, but instead focus on turning strategy into an easily communicated action plan.
What is a strategic action plan?
The strategic action plan is a formal document that serves as the primary source of information for how objectives will be executed, monitored, controlled and closed. Many organizations also deploy an associated but separate “action plan” for achieving the operating model.
What are strategic measures and metrics?
Measures are observable outcomes that allow organizations to evaluate the efficacy of their action plans. Metrics quantify those observed changes to enable an organization to concretely quantify its progress and stay aligned to its chosen measures.
Drive stronger performance on your mission-critical priorities.
Business Planning Cycle
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Develop your business plan
Last Updated: 5 August 2021
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Why you need a business plan, download a business plan template.
Whether you've just started out or have been running your business for years, business planning can be the key to your success. Having a business plan:
- helps you to prioritise – it gives your business direction, defines your objectives, maps out how you'll achieve your goals and helps you to manage possible bumps in the road
- gives you control over your business – the planning process helps you learn about the different things that could affect your success. If you're already in business, it helps you to step back and look at what's working and what you can improve on
- helps you seek finance – if you're seeking finance for your business, you'll need to show banks and investors why they should invest in your business.
Use our Business plan template for detailed business planning or seeking finance.
Choose the Lean business plan template to quickly focus your business and set some goals for the year ahead.
Business plan template
Lean business plan template
Our templates step you through the process of developing a business plan with links to extra information if you need it.
If you're developing a detailed business plan, you may want to check our tips below before you start.
1. Determine what your plan is for
Does your business plan have more than one purpose? Will you use it internally, or will you share it externally, for example with potential investors or banks?
Deciding what the purpose is, can help you develop your plan for the right audience. If the plan has been developed for third parties, you will need to determine what they’ll be most interested in.
2. Prepare your finances
If you're looking for finance, lenders and investors will want to know if your finances are in order and your business is in a strong financial position. They'll want to know how much money you currently have, how much money you need and how much you expect to make in the near future. While a bit of extra funding will help you ensure you’re covered for unexpected costs, be realistic and avoid asking for more than you need.
If you're starting out and don't have financial information yet, our business plan template provides resources to help you get your finances ready.
3. Write your summary last
Summarise the main points of your business plan using as few words as possible. You want to get to the point but not overlook important facts. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, but don't overdo it. The summary should include details about your business, market, goals and what makes you different from other businesses.
4. Get help
Don't leave your business plan to the last minute. It takes time, research and careful preparation to develop an effective business plan.
I f you aren't confident in completing the plan yourself, consider getting a professional to look over it and provide advice.
There are a number of government services available to help you plan, start or grow your business. These services can provide general advice, workshops, seminars and networking events, and can even match you with a mentor or business coach.
Get expert help from a business adviser in your area.
5. Review your plan regularly
As your business changes, your plan will need to change to ensure your business is still heading in the right direction. Having your plan up-to-date can keep you focused on where you are heading.
It's a good idea to keep a record of each version of your business plan.
6. Protect your plan
Having an understanding with third parties when distributing a plan could be enough protection for some businesses. But if you have innovative business practices, products or services, you may want people to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect your innovations.
It may also be a good idea to include some words in your plan asking the reader not to disclose the details of your plan.
Start writing and developing your marketing strategy.
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Business Cycle Diagram
What do you think of this template.
A business cycle, sometimes called a “trade cycle” or “economic cycle,” refers to a series of stages in the economy as it expands and contracts. Constantly repeating, it is primarily measured by the rise and fall of gross domestic product in a country.
Business cycles are universal to all nations that have capitalistic economies. All such economies will experience these natural periods of growth and declines, though not all at the same time. However, given the increased globalization, business cycles tend to happen at similar times across countries more often than they did before.
Understanding the different phases of a business cycle can help individuals make lifestyle decisions, investors make financial decisions, and governments make appropriate policy decisions.
During an expansion, businesses and companies are steadily growing their production and profits, unemployment remains low, and the stock market is performing well. Consumers are buying and investing, and with this increasing demand for goods and services, prices begin to rise too.
Once these numbers start to increase outside of their traditional bands, though, then the economy is considered to be growing out of control. Companies may be expanding recklessly. Investors are overconfident, buying up assets and significantly increasing their prices, which are not supported by their underlying value. Everything is starting to cost too much.
This business cycle diagram is the best companion for your foolproof strategic planning, effective project summaries and proposal presentations in the corporate meetings. The template of 4 slides remains entirely revisable. So that you can draft it according to your need.
This template will be primarily useful for investment companies when preparing an analysis of business activity in the market. Also, the slides of this template can be used by university teachers and business coaches when preparing their courses on investment and business process management.
Startup executives can use this template in preparation for their investor meeting. Business leaders can use this template when preparing their company development strategy. Economists and financiers can use these slides to prepare an analysis of the business processes that take place in a company.
The first slide consists of a 5-part business cycle in a circular yet tricky manner. With a designated place and specific color for every part, it’s the best fit for the quick representation of a trade cycle. The second slide is more of a business loop. With 5 circles, four forming the concept of the loop and the fifth present in the middle for writing the core idea of the project. It’s more of a deal-breaking template. With a doodle and description box at the left for research and development phases and at the right for binding the contract with your client. The third and fourth slides are a circular business cycle consisting of 5 and 6 distinguishable parts respectively. Best recommended for use in handling and preparing internal tasks of a company, this template enables your customers, employees and even clients to have a better view of your business perspective with individual space for the explanation of every development phase present in the loop.
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How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Development [Free Template]
Updated: August 25, 2021
Published: April 01, 2021
Business development. It’s usually confused with sales , often overlooked, and only sometimes given the strategic focus it deserves. Having a business development strategy, however, is crucial to long-term success and ensuring that everyone in your company is working toward a common goal.
But how do you develop a business development plan? Pull up a chair and stay awhile, I’m diving into that and more below.
Business development is the practice of identifying, attracting, and acquiring new business to further your company’s revenue and growth goals. How you achieve these goals is sometimes referred to as a business development strategy — and it applies to and benefits everyone at your company.
It’s not unusual to mistake business development with sales, but there’s an important distinction between the two. Business development refers to many activities and functions inside and outside the traditional sales team structure. In some companies, business development is part of the larger sales operations team. In others, it’s part of the marketing team or sits on its own team altogether.
Ready to dive in? Here are the key business development strategies you’ll want to implement.
Business Development Strategies
- Understand your competitive landscape.
- Choose effective KPIs.
- Develop long-term customer relationships.
- Implement customer feedback.
- Keep your website content and user interface fresh.
- Speed up your response time.
- Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.
- Implement a social listening strategy.
- Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.
Free Strategic Planning Template
Fill out this form to get the strategic growth template., 1. understand your competitive landscape..
Before you can develop a strategic plan to drive business growth, you must have a solid understanding of the competitive landscape in your industry. When you know who your ideal customer is and what problem they are looking to solve with your product or service, research who else is providing a viable solution in your industry.
Identify other companies operating in your space. What features do their products have? How competitive is their pricing? Do their systems integrate with other third-party solutions? Get crystal-clear on what the competition is offering so you know how to differentiate your product to your customers.
Featured Resource: 10 Competitive Analysis Templates
Download the Free Templates Now
2. Choose effective KPIs.
How will you know if your business development efforts are successful? Ensure you can measure your goals with relevant, meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the health of your business. The result of these metrics should give you a strong indication of how effective your business development efforts are.
Featured Resource: Sales Metrics Calculator Dashboard
Download the Free Calculator Dashboard Now
3. Develop long-term customer relationships.
Do you engage with your customers even after the deal has been closed? If not, it’s time to develop a plan to keep your buyers engaged. Building long-term relationships with your customers pays off. A grand majority of a company's business comes from repeat customers, and returning customers are cheaper to convert. Indeed, it’s famously known that it costs five times more to convert new customers than it does to sell to returning customers.
Not only are repeat customers easier to sell to, they can also provide valuable feedback and insights to help you improve your business. Additionally, customer testimonials can be used for valuable content that can attract your next buyer.
4. Implement customer feedback.
If and when you have customers who are willing to provide feedback on your sales process and offerings, make sure you hear them out and implement it. Your customers offer a unique, valuable perspective because they chose your product over the competition — their insights can help shape your strategy to keep your business ahead of the curve.
5. Keep your website content and user interface fresh.
When was the last time your company had a website refresh? Can you ensure that all links are working, that your site is easy to navigate, and that it is laid out and intuitive for those who want to buy from you?
Keeping your website up-to-date and easy to use can make or break the sale for customers who know they are ready to buy. Don’t make it too difficult for potential customers to get in touch with you or purchase your product directly (if that suits your business model).
6. Speed up your response time.
How fast your sales team responds to your leads can make or break your ability to close the deal. If you notice your sales process has some lag time that prevents you from responding to prospects as soon as possible, these could be areas to prioritize improvement.
7. Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.
No business development strategy is complete without a sales plan . If you’ve already established a plan, make sure to unify it with your business development efforts. Your plan should outline your target audience, identify potential obstacles, provide a “game plan” for sales reps, outline responsibilities for team members, and define market conditions.
While a sales plan primarily affects your sales team, it can inform the activities of your business development reps. A sales plan can help them understand where the business needs growth — whether it’s in a new vertical, a new audience, or a new need that’s recently come to light in the industry.
Not sure how to create a sales plan? Download the following template to get started.
Featured Resource: Sales Plan Template
Download the Free Template Now
8. Implement a social listening strategy.
While social listening is mainly used in a marketing and customer service context, it’s also an essential practice for business development. There are more than 4 billion social media users worldwide. Naturally, social media is one of the best places to hear directly from consumers and businesses — without needing to reach out to them first.
In business development, you can use social listening to track what the general public is saying about your brand, industry, product offerings, product category, and more. It can help you identify key weaknesses in the industry, making it a prime opportunity to be the first to address those pitfalls.
Use a social listening tool to pick up on trends before they gain traction.
9. Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.
A key facet of business development is reaching potential customers where they are. One of the easiest ways to do that is by sponsoring industry organizations, conferences, and events. This strategy will guarantee that your business development reps get valuable face-to-face time with your business’ target audience. The additional visibility can also help establish your business as a leader in the field.
Now that you understand what business development entails, it's time to create a plan to set your strategy in motion.
How to Develop a Strategic Plan
When we refer to a business development strategic plan, we’re referring to a roadmap that guides the whole company and requires everyone’s assistance to execute successfully and move your customer through the flywheel . With a plan, you’ll close more deals and quantify success.
Let’s go over the steps you should take to create a strategic plan.
1. Download our strategic plan template .
First, download our free growth strategy template to create a rock-solid strategic plan. With this template, you can map a growth plan for increasing sales, revenue, and customer acquisition rates. You can also create action plans for adding new locations, creating new product lines, and expanding into new regions.
Featured Resource: Strategic Plan Template
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2. Craft your elevator pitch.
What is your company’s mission and how do you explain it to potential clients in 30 seconds or less? Keeping your elevator pitch at the forefront of all strategic planning will remind everyone what you’re working toward and why.
Some people believe the best pitch isn’t a pitch at all , but a story. Others have their favorite types of pitches , from a one-word pitch to a Twitter pitch that forces you to boil down your elevator pitch to just 280 characters.
Find the elevator pitch that works best for your reps, company, and offer, and document it in your business development strategy.
3. Include an executive summary.
You’ll share your strategic plan with executives and maybe even board members, so it’s important they have a high-level overview to skim. Pick the most salient points from your strategic plan and list or summarize them here.
You might already have an executive summary for your company if you’ve written a business proposal or value proposition . Use this as a jumping off point but create one that’s unique to your business development goals and priorities.
Once your executives have read your summary, they should have a pretty good idea of your direction for growing the business — without having to read the rest of your strategy.
3. Set SMART goals.
What are your goals for this strategy? If you don’t know, it will be difficult for your company and team to align behind your plan. So, set SMART goals . Remember, SMART stands for:
Featured Resource: SMART Goal Setting Template
If one of your goals is for 5% of monthly revenue to come from upsells or cross-sells, make this goal specific by identifying what types of clients you’ll target.
Identify how you’ll measure success. Is success when reps conduct upsell outreach to 30 clients every month, or is it when they successfully upsell a customer and close the deal? To make your goal attainable, ensure everyone on your team understands who is responsible for this goal: in this case, sales or business development reps.
This goal is relevant because it will help your company grow, and likely contributes to larger company-wide goals. To make it time-based, set a timeline for success and action. In this case, your sales team must achieve that 5% upsell/cross-sell number by the end of the quarter.
4. Conduct SWOT analysis.
SWOT is a strategic planning technique used to identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Before conducting a SWOT, identify what your goal is. For example, “We’d like to use SWOT to learn how best to conduct outreach to prospective buyers.”
Once you’ve identified what you’re working toward, conduct market research by talking with your staff, business partners, and customers.
Next, identify your business’ strengths. Perhaps you have low employee turnover, a central location that makes it easy to visit with prospects in person, or an in-demand feature your competitors haven’t been able to mimic.
Featured Resource: Market Research Kit with SWOT Analysis Template
Download the Templates Now
Your business’ weaknesses are next. Has your product recently glitched? Have you been unable to successfully build out a customer service team that can meet the demands of your customers?
Then, switch to opportunities. For example, have you made a new business partnership that will transition you into a previously untapped market segment?
What are the threats? Is your physical space getting crowded? What about your market space? Is increasing competition an issue?
Use SWOT results to identify a better way forward for your company.
5. Determine how you’ll measure success.
You’ve identified strengths and weaknesses and set SMART goals , but how will you measure it all ? It’s important for your team to know just how they will be measured, goaled, and rewarded. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) for business development include:
- Company growth
- Lead conversion rate
- Leads generated per month
- Client satisfaction
- Pipeline value
6. Set a budget.
What will your budget be for achieving your goals? Review financial documents, historical budgets, and operational estimates to set a budget that’s realistic.
Once you have a “draft” budget, check it against other businesses in your industry and region to make sure you’re not overlooking or misjudging any numbers. Don’t forget to factor in payroll, facilities costs, insurance, and other operational line items that tend to add up.
7. Identify your target customer.
Who will your business development team pursue? Your target market is the group of customers your product/service was built for. For example, if you sell a suite of products for facilities teams at enterprise-level companies, your target market might be facilities or janitorial coordinators at companies with 1000+ employees. To identify your target market:
- Analyze your product or service
- Check out the competition
- Choose criteria to segment by
- Perform research
Your target customer is the person most likely to buy your product. Do your homework and make sure your business development plan addresses the right people. Only then will you be able to grow your business.
8. Choose an outreach strategy.
What tactics will you use to attract new business for your sales team to close? You might focus on a single tactic or a blend of a few. Once you know who your target market is and where they “hang out,” then you can choose an appropriate outreach strategy.
Will your business development plan rely heavily on thought leadership such as speaking at or attending conferences? Will you host a local meetup for others in your industry? Or will your reps network heavily on LinkedIn and social media?
If referrals will be pivotal to your business’ growth, consider at which stage of the buying process your BDRs will ask for referrals. Will you ask for a referral even if a prospect decides they like your product/service but aren’t a good fit? Or will you wait until a customer has been using your solution for a few months? Define these parameters in your strategy.
Upselling and Cross-Selling
Upselling and cross-selling are a cost-effective way of growing your business. But it’s important that this tactic is used with guardrails. Only upsell clients on features that will benefit them as well as your bottom line. Don’t bloat client accounts with features or services they really don’t need — that’s when turnover and churn start to happen.
Sponsorship and Advertising
Will your BDR work with or be on the marketing team to develop paid advertising campaigns? If so, how will your BDRs support these campaigns? And which channels will your strategy include? If you sell a product, you might want to feature heavily on Instagram or Facebook. If you’re selling a SaaS platform, LinkedIn or Twitter might be more appropriate.
What’s your outreach strategy? Will your BDRs be held to a quota to make 25 calls a week and send 15 emails? Will your outreach strategy be inbound , outbound , or a healthy combination of both? Identify the outreach guardrails that best match your company values for doing business.
Strategic Plan Example
Let’s put all of these moving parts in action with a strategic plan example featuring good ol’ Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
Elevator Pitch Example for Strategic Plan
Dunder Mifflin is a local paper company dedicated to providing excellent customer support and the paper your business needs to excel today and grow tomorrow.
Here are some additional resources for inspiration:
- Elevator Pitch Examples to Inspire Your Own
- Components of an Elevator Pitch
Executive Summary Example for Strategic Plan
At Dunder Mifflin, our strengths are our customer service, speed of delivery, and our local appeal. Our weakness is that our sales cycle is too long.
To shorten the sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4, we need to ask for more referrals (which already enjoy a 15% faster sales cycle), sponsor local professional events, and outreach to big box store customers who suffer from poor customer support and are more likely to exit their contract. These tactics should allow us to meet our goal in the agreed-upon timeline.
- How to Write an Incredibly Well-Written Executive Summary [+ Example]
- Executive Summary Template
SMART Goals Example for Strategic Plan
Dunder Mifflin’s goal is to decrease our sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4. We will do this by more proactively scheduling follow-up meetings, sourcing more qualified, ready-to-buy leads, and asking for 25% more referrals (which have a 15% shorter sales cycle already). We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.
- 5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [Examples]
- How to Write a SMART Goal
- SMART Marketing Goals Template
SWOT Analysis Example for Strategic Plan
Strengths: Our strengths are our reputation in the greater Scranton area, our customer service team (led by Kelly Kapoor), and our warehouse team, who ship same day reams to our customers — something the big box stores cannot offer.
Weaknesses: Our greatest weakness is that our sales team has been unable to successfully counter prospects who choose big box stores for their paper supply. This results in a longer than average sales cycle, which costs money and time.
Opportunities: Our greatest business opportunity is to conduct better targeted outreach to prospects who are ready to buy, ask for more referrals from existing customers, and follow-up with closed lost business that’s likely coming up on the end of an annual contract with a big box store.
Threats: Our biggest threat is large box stores offering lower prices to our prospects and customers and a sales cycle that is too long, resulting in low revenue and slow growth.
- How to Conduct Competitive Analysis
- How to Run a SWOT Analysis for Your Business [+ Template]
- SWOT Analysis Template and Market Research Kit
Measurement of Success Example for Strategic Plan
We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.
Budget Example for Strategic Plan
You've laid out the SMART goals and the way you'll measure for success. The budget section's goal is to estimate how much investment it will take to achieve those goals. This will likely end up being a big-picture overview, broken down into a budget by a program or a summary of key investments. Consider laying it out in a table format like so:
- Budgeting Templates
- How to Write an Incredible Startup Marketing Budget
Target Customer Example for Strategic Plan
Our target customer is office managers at small- to medium-sized companies in the greater Scranton, PA area. They are buying paper for the entire office, primarily for use in office printers, custom letterhead, fax machines. They are busy managing the office and value good customer service and a fast solution for their paper needs.
- How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business
- Make My Persona Tool
Outreach Strategy Example for Strategic Plan
Networking, sponsorships, and referrals will be our primary mode of outreach. We will focus on networking at regional paper conferences, HR conferences, and local office manager meetups. We will sponsor local professional events. And we will increase the volume of referrals we request from existing customers.
Create a Strategic Plan for Business Development
Without a strategic plan, you can invest resources, time, and funds into business development initiatives that don’t grow your business. A strategic plan is crucial to align your business development and sales teams and have everyone working toward the greater good of your company.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Plan your business's growth strategy with this free template.
Strategic Plan Process Template
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