This week I have read through two business plans. No, that is a lie. I tried to read through two but I only finished reading one.

The first one was about 50 pages long and was full of repetitive ideas mingled with a large dollop of hope. It felt unenthusiastic, a bit confused and slightly desperate, and so too did I.

The second one was about six pages long, it had a lovely tone to the writing and was full of interesting facts and ideas. I sensed that the business had a great personality, pride in what had already been achieved and was optimistic about the future.

I have thought about these experiences and I wondered why we often think that because something is long winded and tries to follow a prescribed format of, (big breath), analysing the market, reviewing the past in a structured manner, looking at consumer trends and weighing up the pros and cons of repositioning the business into this niche or that, that it will automatically be a success.

Ultimately a business plan is attempting to communicate to the reader why a particular business path wants to be taken. One of the best reasons why we should do anything is because we shall enjoy it, and other people will enjoy it also. The more people who will enjoy the product/service the greater its chances of success.

Maybe I am fortunate in not having to deal with business ideas that are overly worthy. Very few of us have dealings with businesses that are trying to eradicate killer diseases or resolve international tensions. Most businesses are about bringing a bit more pleasure into our lives. Whether that is through the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the TV’s we watch or even the manner in which our building society treats us. What we want in our daily experiences is for our lives to be fun, rewarding and without hassle.

So when I read a business plan I want to feel inspired, energised, confident and happy. And here is my simple approach so that can happen.

  1. Write in simple everyday language
  2. Generate a narrative which shows why the plan chosen is the obvious next step
  3. Don’t get distracted by irrelevances
  4. Be brief but thorough

There is nothing magical about a business plan. It is perhaps the culmination of many months of ponderings and discussions. The reader does not need to experience the entire decision process, just tell them what you are going to do and why that is going to make us all a little happier.

Image: Lloyd Chapman

Simon Bruce

Author Simon Bruce

Simon qualified as a Chartered accountant with BDO London in 1982 and then began a career taking in banking, manufacturing and international trading working in UK, Europe and Australia. He has worked with publicly quoted companies, family companies and start-ups.

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