A business plan forms the core of a business. An entrepreneur targets an interesting opportunity and then thinks, studies and strategizes about how to turn it into a lucrative business enterprise. Professional business plan writers assist the entrepreneur with due diligence and research about the prospects, challenges, limitations and so on. It is then that the ideas, facts, assumptions, strategies, projections, strengths and weaknesses are assimilated into a comprehensive business plan.
For an existing business, the business plan experiences a subtle shift – the focus is on mapping out the growth and success in the future. Or it could be about capitalizing on an emerging opportunity or adapting to a changing scenario. However, the method, the means and the format remain mostly the same. After all, the target is still either to lure investors and raise funds or provide direction to the business.
However, entrepreneurs often mistake this kind of business plan with business planning. They do not realize that the functionality of the business plan is limited to planning resources, managing responsibilities and establishing metrics for tracking the results of the business.
In other words, a business plan may be crucial to launching a new business or even for steering an existing business in a new direction. But at the end of the day, the business plan is essentially static in nature. It is something that the entrepreneurs and managers review on a monthly, or more commonly, annual basis to track the actual performance against the established benchmarks to stay on the right course.
However, business planning is more flexible and dynamic in nature. This is what sets the business plan into motion and moves it to a more variable plane. The plan is juxtaposed with the changing elements, like customer expectations, competitor performance, regulatory requirements and economic changes to name a few. Grappling with these shifting dynamics is what is called business planning!
Therefore, continuous business planning is what will confer the business with the momentum to combat changes as and when they occur. This gives the management invaluable lead time to hit the ground running even in the face of strong or unexpected external forces.
It follows that the business plan is a blueprint that forms the foundation of the business. It is done once or a few times at best by professional business plan writers. On the other hand, business planning is more continuous in nature. It takes off from the business plan and breathes life into this otherwise stagnant document. It enables the business to stay updated even while measuring the progress against the assumptions and projections of the business plan.
At times, business planning can also turn the business plan more active in the form of adjustments and revisions so that the business keeps rolling with the punches. Success is bound to follow!