Business Planning

Airplane Two simple words that leave me quite cold, after all what sane person wants to spend hours forecasting long term drivers, market demand and product segmentation. This week I took the advantage of time out of the office for a few business trips to put down ideas of the new venture on paper. I find a dimly lit cabin the perfect environment to gather thoughts and start to answer some fundamental questions on what form the business will take...what kind of company do I want to run? After staring at the blinking cursor for what seemed like an eternity, well half way across the English Channel to be accurate, I finally started writing the business plan.

There are many decisions to make when you start presenting ideas on paper and it all started a little off key, I have spent years dreaming of 'what if' and 'wouldn't it be great to produce...' I have notebooks upon notebooks of ideas, trains of thoughts heading to many different destinations, now is the time to condense the ideas into a decisive plan, a business that responds to creativity, environmental respect and the desire to produce something exceptional.

It is clear that help is required to get these thoughts into a logical and coherent plan, after all if I am seeking an investment, a backer will need some fundamental questions answered. I flicked through a variety of business planning and self help titles in the airport bookshop and decided on one of the Financial Times Essential Guides - Writing a business plan by Vaughan Evans (ISBN: 978-0-273-75798-6) - This title seemed the most practical and straight forward, it is written by someone who has created and reviewed many plans and know what a 'backer' is looking for. Although I am yet to decide on the kind of investment the business will need Vaughan's book offers the most flexibility in presenting a plan targeted to a debt and equity. I am fortunate to have many years in a commercial environment under my belt and feel comfortable with the vocabulary of finance, the book is logical and allows you to build the plan through each chapter, it starts by asking fundamental questions at the core of the business.

So there I sat, nearing the end of my short flight with a busy day ahead and yet a separate exciting journey had begun, I had taken those stuffed notebooks and started to define something new. Someone had once told me that new ideas are precious and need to be nurtured, treat them like a newborn and protect them. Weird as this sounds I feel a certain parental protection to my plan, it is newly formed after years of conception and quite precious.

Over the course of this journey I intend to share with you ideas of this new business, however now is not the time. I will share a few questions which I started to answer this week, perhaps you are thinking of starting something new and wondering how to get those  scribbles into a structure.

1. Market Demand: What is driving demand for the buyers of a product such as yours?

2. Competition: Is industry competition between you and fellow suppliers of your product intense? Why are you unique?

I have completed the first section of the plan where I define the business and define some initial short-term goals, it feels great to have started but like all long journeys I have many miles ahead, I need to accept misdirection, wrong turns and fatigue...but boy am I up for it.