By Guy Rigby, Head of Entrepreneurs at Smith & Williamson

There’s nothing quite like a plan, and every business has one. Whether it’s in the mind of the entrepreneur, a hastily written to-do list or a more traditional document, it’s the plan that dictates what happens in a business everyday.

For a start-up entrepreneur, with no need for funding, one might be tempted to think that writing a formal plan is a waste of time, an unwelcome diversion of energy that could better be directed at, well, just doing it! You might be right. In certain cases, the idea is so crystal clear, the business model so simple, the demand so high, the profits so huge, that ‘just doing it’ may be the order of the day.

Indeed, some entrepreneurs dismiss the need for a formal business plan, with some outstanding business leaders allegedly shunning them entirely.

“I spent many years at Virgin,” says Bill Morrow, founder of Angels Den, “and there’s no way that [Sir] Richard would write a plan. He couldn’t have sat still; he just wanted to get on with it.”

In Sir Richard’s case, it is perhaps not beyond the realm of possibility that others helped him develop the more detailed plans around his insightful entrepreneurial vision. In his book Screw It, Let’s Do It, he talks about always carrying a notepad to write down his thoughts and new ideas, using mentors and coaches to help him with his work, and surrounding himself with good people. His passion, he says, is for leading teams and sharing the rewards. It sounds like a great combination.

So, why bother with a formal business plan?

A good internal business plan will help you tick all of these boxes by enabling you to:

- benchmark your performance by comparing actual results against those set out in the plan

- improve your performance through analysis and assessment of resources, processes, operations and competencies

- set targets and KPIs and assess how you will resource, measure and achieve them

- estimate the time and money you’ll need to reach your objectives and how best to invest your capital

- define and understand the opportunities, risks and rewards and how you will leverage these to maximise your opportunities

- have confidence in your management and decision-making processes.

For help with business planning call Guy Rigby on 020 7131 8213, or email guy.rigby@smith.williamson.co.uk.

By necessity this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Article correct at time of writing.

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