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Posted on November 30, 2021 @ 06:31:00 AM by Paul Meagher
It is common these days for governments and other organizations to pick a month and promote some cause for that month. If I were going to promote some cause for December it would be to suggest to entrepreneurs that December be viewed as "Business Planning Month".
Selecting December as "Business Planning Month" is not an arbitrary choice for some businesses. If you are operating a market gardening venture that involves growing annual plants, you would be looking to have most of your seeds ordered before the end of December to help ensure you get what you want. That requires planning what types of veggies you will plant, how many and where. In the context of market gardening, using December to do planning is common practice. Even planning for a personal garden is often done in December. Richard Perkins has documented an interesting lego-based approach to planning and managing the garden beds for a market gardening venture.
Another reason why December may not be an arbitrary month to dedicate to planning is because for many businesses the end of 2021 is the end of a fiscal year. It is the last month in the final quarter of the year and you can start to get a sense of what your final numbers will be for
2021 and can use these numbers as a basis to do some planning for next year.
In the remainder of this blog, I want to discuss the types of activities you might engage in as part of the business planning process. Creating a business plan for 2022 "takes time" because it is not just one type of activity but the culmination of many activities taking place at the same time.
In my opinion, the central element of business planning is decision making. The goals you setout to achieve in your business plan for 2022 are bets based on the best information you have available. Selecting those goals involves decision making with a betting aspect. For example, in my first winery application that I hope to submit in 2022 I need to decide whether I want to create just a retail store for our farm winery venture, or if I want to offer a hospitality area as well. Offering hospitality where the customer can sit down and consume glasses of wine involves complying with additional regulations, restrictions, renovation costs, and insurance costs. I am leaning towards only offering a retail store for the business in 2022 with the hospitality aspect a goal for 2023. This decision has a big impact upon what I will try to accomplish in 2022 and sets the tone for the much of the business plan.
There is quite a bit of research that goes into good planning. It is useful to research what the competition is doing, to read about industry trends, and what the best in class are doing. In my case, I need to dedicate a significant amount of time to researching the regulatory requirements that discuss what other government departments (environment dept, fire marshal dept, municipal approvals, etc..) and private companies (commercial insurance) you need to interact with before you can even submit a winery permit application. You then need to research the requirements of these government departments and private companies. Researching regulatory requirements in particular is important because it can deliver information required to make good decisions about goals to pursue given where you are at.
Oftentimes planning and learning are going on at the same time. You may need to learn new ideas, new facts, and new skills in order assess the viability of proceeding in a certain direction. Expect to do a lot of learning as part of the planning process and December can be a good month to learn ideas, facts and skills.
Multi-year plans involve achieving certain milestones each year. By the end of the year you can assess the degree to which you achieved your milestones and what you learned in trying to achieve the milestone. Perhaps you learned that it was more difficult than you thought and/or that perhaps the reward doesn't justify the cost of trying to achieve it. Perhaps a pivot is in order? If you are a driven, focused and perhaps lucky entrepreneur then there is a good chance that you will achieve some of the goals you set out and you are on track with your multi-year plan. December could be the time of year that you allocate to assessing multi-year plans and deciding to adjust the plan to reflect what you have learned and addressing new opportunities. Sometimes you don't need to do anything new that might distract you from the main plan and the most important thing is to stay the course with focus and discipline.
Ultimately planning is about documenting what you are deciding and learning into a formal document that can be shown to business partners who might want to become involved in your business. There are alot of templates you can follow that will guide you on how to structure a business plan. Pick one and go with it or just start working on all the sections that you think are important and need to be in your business document (e.g, executive summary, business structure, implementation plan, costs, marketing plan, financial projections) .
There are alot of different types of activities involved in successful business planning. We have discussed 5 types of activities commonly involved in business planning: decision making, research, learning, replanning, and documenting. All of these activities take time and we might ask whether business planning should be done as needed or when you have some spare time, or perhaps whether it is worth recognizing a certain month of the year, perhaps December, as the time you will dedicate specifically to making business plans and improving your business planning expertise.
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