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Business Planning

Structured Business Planning for Growth and Survival

Speaking at a recent SME Association function in Adelaide in May, Cashflow Manager Australia’s CEO, Tim Millar, highlighted the need for small business enterprises to undertake structured business planning in order to grow and survive.

In a brief 15-minute session, Tim presented some valuable tips that businesses should follow to ensure they continue to be relevant and competitive.

Check out Tim’s talk below.

Planning for small business success from Cashflow Manager on Vimeo.

What is the process of business planning?

  • Have a look at where you are now
  • Consider where you want to be in the future
  • What are the major things you need to do in order to get there? (Critical success factors)
  • Break them down into short term, medium term and long term objectives
  • Define all the tiny tasks you have to do in the short term, medium term and long term in order to get there

 The first thing you have to do in business planning is a situational analysis. This involves you having to do a SWOT:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

To run a successful business you must look at your strengths and opportunities and apply your strengths to those opportunities that exist in the marketplace.

Critical Success Factors

  • Critical success factors have three main areas:
  • Administration – what must you be good at from an administrative point of view to get to that future goal you are after? Should you be good at marketing? Should you be good at running the numbers? Should you be good at employing people?
  • Service/Product – What must you be good at from a service/product point of view? What characteristics must you either maintain or develop in order to meet the needs of clients?
  • Resources – There are typically three types of resources; time, people and money. Unless you get the balance of time, people and money right, you will never get the rest of this done.

Are you running your business efficiently?

  • There are some questions you should ask to analyse your business:
  • What is our existing client base?
  • What markets do we serve?
  • What is our existing product and service range that we deliver?

This is typically known as your CORE business.

Your core business is what you are known for. It is the thing you are an expert in. You have no business branching out of this area unless the core business is doing really well.


  • What are your competitors doing in the marketplace?
  • Get to know these things about your top three:
  • The people
  • Strengths/Weaknesses
  • How much money they have behind them

Understand your Unique Selling Proposition

  • What are the benefits that the customers want?
  • How can you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
  • What you want to find are all the things that benefit the customer, and you are the only one who can do them.
  • Those things are your sustainable competitive advantage, and should be your marketing message.

The 4 Ps of Marketing

  • Product – What does the customer want from the product/service?
  • Price – you have to get it right. If you don’t get your price right you’ll have lots of sales but will make no profit.
  • Promotion – you have to look at that unique selling proposition and promote it to where your customers are in the marketplace.
  • Place – where do buyers look for your product or service? You have to know where your end user goes.

Human Resources

  • You can have some lovely people in your business that just aren’t skilled and your customers will see that and it will reflect poorly on your business.
  • You can have some really skilled people that bring in the sales, but that no one else in your business can work with. That is the hardest person to let go of, but if you let go of that person the rest of your staff will perform better, they’ll have a better attitude and will respect you more as a leader.
  • Someone who has medium skills but a great attitude can be trained, but training takes time.
  • Someone with great skills but an average attitude must be coached and that takes money.
  • What we need to get good at is skills and values alignment when employing, because you don’t want to employ someone who takes time and money.


  • In business we have fixed costs eg: rent, and variable expenses eg: manufacturing of goods.
  • What you have to think about as a business owner is the sales.
  • You don’t make profit until our sales surpass our fixed and variable overheads.
  • The fastest way of making profit is to reduce as many of your fixed overheads as you can.

90 Day Plan

  • What you have to do
  • Who has to do it
  • By when?
  • What is the outcome?

If you can develop a 90 day plan after going through this sort of general business planning process, you will have a tool that will keep you measurable, accountable and on track with everything you are doing.


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