Related […] Read more What is strategic communications? It means infusing communications efforts with an agenda and a master plan. Typically, that master plan involves promoting the brand of an organization, urging people to do specific actions, or advocating particular legislation. It can refer to both a process, and to a specific job title.
Sometimes people use the term business plan when they are referring to a project. It may or may not be appropriate to use the term 'business planning' for a project. Some projects are very substantial and equate to an autonomous independent business activity, in which case a business plan is entirely appropriate.
Business planning terminology can be confusing because much of it is used very loosely, and can mean different things.
Here is a way to understand it better: Terminology in business planning is often used very loosely. When people talk and write about business planning different terms may mean the same thing, and a single term can mean different things.
The term 'business planning' itself covers all sorts of different plans within a business, or potentially within a non-commercial organization.
The words 'strategy' and 'strategic' arise often in the subject of buisness planning, although there is no actual difference between a 'business plan' and a 'strategic business plan'. Every business plan is arguably 'strategic'. Everyone involved in planning arguably adopts a 'strategic' approach.
This increasingly applies to many non-commercial activities government services, education, health, charities, etcwhose planning processes may also be described as 'business planning', even though such organizations may not be businesses in the way we normally imagine. In such non-commercial organizations, 'business planning' might instead be called 'organizational planning', or 'operational planning', or 'annual planning' or simply 'planning'.
Essentially all these terms mean the same, and increasingly the tendency is for 'business planning' to become a generic general term to refer to them. Business planning always starts with or revisits the basic aim or need to provide products or services to customers - also called a market or 'market-place'.
Consequently business plans tend first to look outwards, at a market, before they look inwards, at finance and production, etc.
This means that most business plan communication strategy images plans are driven by marketing, since marketing is the function which addresses market opportunity and need, and how to fulfil it.
Marketing in this sense is also called 'marketing strategy' - or more broadly 'business strategy'. Many people use the words 'sales' or 'selling' and 'marketing' to mean the same thing - basically selling products or services to customers, in the broadest sense. In fact, marketing refers to much wider issues than sales and selling.
Marketing involves the strategic planning of a business or other organizational provider through to every aspect of customer engagement, including market reserach, product development, branding, advertising and promotion, methods of selling, customer service, and extending to the acquisition or development of new businesses.
Sales or selling is an activity within marketing, referring to the methods and processes of communicating and agreeing and completing the transaction sale with the customer. Given all this, it is hopefully easier to understand why, depending on a person's role or standpoint or the department in which they work, 'business planning' may be referrred to in many and various ways, for example as 'sales planning', 'marketing planning', 'strategic planning', etc.
If there is a technically correct definition of 'business planning', then perhaps we can best say that 'business planning' refers to the plan of the overall organization, or to a unit or division within an organization with responsibility for a trade or profit. A business plan technically contains and reflects the individual plans for the different functions within the whole operation, each of which may have its own detailed 'business plans', which might be called business plans, or more correctly departmental or functional plans according to their purpose, such as a marketing plan, sales plan, production plan, financial plan, etc.
Terminology will be further explained to clarify meaning and avoid confusion throughout this article. Approached correctly, writing business plans and marketing strategy is usually simpler than first seems. Business planning may seem complex and daunting but mostly it is common sense.
Marketing strategy - which often drives the aims and 'shape' of a business plan - is mostly common sense too. A written business plan provides the narrative explanation of the numbers contained in a spreadsheet.
When we see lots of numbers in a computer spreadsheet we can forget this, but the numbers are merely a reflection of scale and detail, and of computerised calculations and modelling, etc. In fact often when we are confronted with a complex planning spreadsheet containing thousands of numbers, what we are actually being offered is a ready-made planning tool.
In many cases, where business planning is a continuation of an ongoing situation, the most frightening spreadsheets can provide a very easy template for future plans, especially with a little help from a colleague in the acciounts department who understands how it all works.
Ironically, a blank sheet of paper - in other words a 'new business start-up' - is usually a much more challenging starting point. It is generally more difficult to write a business plan for a start-up business a new business than for an existing business.
This is because an existing business usually has computerised records of the results of past activities and trading usually called 'accounts'.
Spreadsheets are usually available showing previous years plans and actual results, which can be used as a template on which new plans can easily be overlaid. Writing a new business plan for the continuation or development of such an existing situation obviously enables much of the planning to be based on existing figures, ratios, statistics, etc.
New business start-up situations by their nature tend to have no previous results, so we often refer to this sort of planning as 'starting with a blank sheet of paper'.
New business start-ups - especially if you are the owner or entrepreneur - present bigger planning challenges in some respects because we have no previous records to act as a guide, but in other respects they offer wonderful opportunities to create genuinely innovative and exciting founding principles - your own new business philosophy - on which your plans can be built and developed.
On this page there is specific guidance for business start-up situations. Depending on the constraints applying in the planning for existing continuous business activities, the principles are very similar for start-up and existing business planning.
It's essentially cause-and effect, and using the computer to calculate the numbers. Adapt it to suit your purposes.
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