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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Writing a business plan is one thing, using it is another

Employee Benefit Adviser

By Jack Kwicien

November 1, 2008

...This month we want to talk about the potential uses for a written business plan. Clearly it can be used as a roadmap with your own management team to run your business. ... In addition, it can be referenced when important strategic decisions need to be made. New initiatives need to be consistent with your stated goals and business strategies. Or if your firm is going to branch out in a new direction, at least it should be a conscious strategic decision, and it should be evaluated against the back-drop of your existing written plan. And you will want to periodically update the document as your business evolves so that it remains current and reflective of how you are conducting business at a point in time.

... Consideration should be given to sharing it with your trusted advisers, including your attorney, accountant, and tax adviser. Obviously you will want to have any third parties execute a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement ...; however, astute business people will expect that request. It will be helpful to them to better understand your business and its plans for the future. As a result, they will be in a better position to provide you solid counsel, and in all likelihood it will be more cost-effective as well.

In addition, if your firm is seeking financing, ... [your] banker will be most interested to see that you have logically developed your business strategy, goals, and financial projections. ... In fact, in most types of financial transactions it will be required. ... A business plan will be critical to explain to a third party how you currently conduct business and what your vision is for the future. And comparing your plan with theirs will enable you to see where any potential synergies may exist.

... Excerpts from your plan can be shared with your entire staff. ... Most employees work better when they understand where they are going and how they are going to get there. ... [Your] business overview, the markets you serve, the products and services that you offer, will be important information for potential recruits to understand. ... Likewise, excerpts could be provided to carriers and important vendor relationships. That will enable all parties to understand their respective roles in your future success.

... [There] are many uses and audiences for a written business plan:

  • Managing your business;
  • Enabling smart strategic decisions;
  • Informing your important business relationships;
  • Raising capital or pursuing a merger;
  • Contemplating a sale;
  • Motivating your staff;
  • Improving your recruiting.

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Kwicien is a managing partner at Baltimore-based Daymark Advisors, a consulting and advisory firm. He can be reached at jkwicien@daymarkadvisors.com