Your time frame represents how far out into the future you want to plan. you want to grow your business successfully for your years and years, but that does not mean your current business plan goes all the way to forever.
A business plan covers a unique planning period. Some are designed to get a company to a defined sales level, a funding objective, for achievement of some other growth goal.
A good business plan covers a time frame that has a realistic start and finish, with the number of measurable checkpoints in between.
Committing to the schedule
How far out should your planning Horizon go?
Your answer depends on the kind of business you are in and the pace at which your industry is moving.
Some ventures have only six months to prove themselves; at the other end, organisations that have substantial endowments such as non-profits, are in for the long haul with business plans that looked at five or ten year Horizons.
Business planning is an ongoing process. From year to year, and sometimes more often than that - companies review, revise, and even completely overhaul their plans. As you establish your time frame, do not worry about casting it in cement. Instead, think of your schedule as something you committed to follow unless and until circumstances change and you make a conscious decision to revise it!
Setting goals and establishing measurable objectives is a critical part of business planning; but knowing your goals and objectives is not enough. You cannot just say you will get around to achieving them; you need to establish and hold yourself accountable to a schedule that includes specific milestones along the way.
For example- A brief schedule for a retail store could look like:
Month 1: Complete business plan
Month 2: Secure business loans
Month 3: Begin search for retail space
Month 5: Lease and develop retail space; Begin hiring
Month 7: Open shop; Run holiday ads
Month 8: Holiday shopping season begins
Month 12: New store becomes profitable
To establish a time frame for your business plan, look over the 5 major questions and answer the relevant ones to your situation.
Your responses will help you set a time frame that includes your key milestones and takes into account your business trends and cycles and the competitive and financial realities of your business.
5 Important questions that shape your Business Plan Framework
Identify 3 Milestones that represent essential steps you need to take to get your business off the ground or to the next level of achievement, and estimate a time frame for each.
Milestone 1: Secure business loan (3 months)
Milestone 2: Lease and develop retail location (3 months)
Milestone 3: Get the shop up and running (2 months)
Is the success of your business tied to a major business Trend? If so, what is the time frame?
The emerging market for Digital devices - already underway, with new products schedule for release every quarter (5 months)
Is your business seasonal in nature? When do you need to have your product or service available to take advantage of the peak season?
For example: Holiday sales represent 50% of our revenue (8 months)
How soon do you need to make your product or service available to stay ahead of your competition?
For example: consumer electronics are extremely competitive (ASAP)
When do you absolutely need to start making a profit or meet your profit projection?
For example: Moderate financial pressure on the company (within one year)
P.S: This article is a part of the series, for the last one on FAQs on Business Plan, visit our blog page on www.3catalysts.com