End of financial year can be a time of reflection for business operators on whether their ventures succeeded or failed, or just failed to thrive.

Australian Workplace Strategies Managing Director Jim Parke says a good business plan can help a business draw on the strengths of its people and plan to succeed.

“Success in business is not just a roll of the dice, instead business professionals must plan for success so their businesses can thrive and grow,” Mr Parke says.

“One in eight businesses shut their doors last financial year, so it is vital firms respond to the current economic climate by planning ahead and rightfully planning to succeed.”

Australian Securities and Investments Commission data reveals one in eight businesses shut up shop last financial year, with 86.9 per cent of those being small businesses with less than 20 workers.

Only one in five businesses had a business plan during the period, according to the HLB Mann Judd SME Research Report 2017/18, even though 98 per cent had ideas on how to achieve growth

Business plans are vital planning tools organisations can prepare with the help of skilled professionals, such as the advisors at Australian Workplace Strategies, so companies can respond to market opportunities and leverage the strength of their people to succeed.

The advisors at Australian Workplace Strategies believe an organisation which understands its strengths and weaknesses and sees its opportunities and threats is one that can improve its likelihood of success — especially if it adopts smart workplace strategies for managing a key asset, its human capital.

Mr Parke says it is prudent to seek specialist advice from knowledgeable professionals to ensure a business could plan for success in the current environment.

“Wise business operators will conduct a strategic analysis of its people, the business and its external environment so they can determine how to respond to opportunities while countering any risks,” Mr Parke says.

“Professional advisors can help a business draw on the strengths of its workforce and manage the risks associated with running a business so its staff can set a deliberate course for success.”

What is a business plan?

Boutique advisory firm Australian Workplace Strategies says business plans can be simple or complex but have one thing in common — strategies for how to get the most out of your people.

“Teams are at the heart of a business and any organisation that understands and builds on its individual strengths and can thrive while also working on its weaknesses,” Mr Parke says.

“A business plan might set goals for drawing on key workers’ abilities or aim to build employee skill sets or knowledge with worker training, professional development or enhancement programs.”

A simple business plan could include a profile of the company’s team and set a vision for what it would look like going into the future.

The simple plan might include a run down the company’s value proposition, an explanation of the problem it helps solve, an outline of the firm’s target market and competition, its sales and marketing strategies and its budget and sales strategies to execute its strategies.

The plan could also outline milestones or key performance indicators, profile the business team and people’s various roles, and outline the current funding base supporting the organisation.

A professional advisor helping you draw up a plan will ask questions to assess your organisation’s needs and canvas future options about how the businesses can approach things going forward.

“You can help ensure your business is headed in the right direction by putting together a business plan with the help of a professional advisor,” Mr Parke notes.

Complex business plans might be suited to bigger companies and be structured differently, especially if they’re being written with critical audiences in mind like financiers or potential buyers.

A complex plan might include: an executive summary, a company overview, a profile of what problems an organisation’s products or services solve, a market analysis that profiles its target market and a SWOT analysis of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The document may then outline risks and the company’s risk management approach, set a plan for marketing and sales, outline milestones and document how progress will be reported. It could then profile the team and assign various responsibilities, set sales forecasts and document budgets, all while showing how financial and human capital will be used to set up and maintain an operation.

Whether complex or simple, a business plan can help a business plan to succeed.

“Help your company and your people succeed,” Mr Parke says. “Plan for success.”