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How to harness business opportunities with a killer business plan

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Many people have great business ideas, but few see those ideas through to reality; and even fewer manage to make the reality successful. Why? While there are many external factors at play when it comes to starting a business, the foundation that your business is built upon is the most important. And it all starts with the right plan.

Here, we chat with two entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses because they created a roadmap for themselves and their team including a vision, mission and goals – and they continually refine it to adapt and grow their operations. They discuss their methods, their roadblocks and reveal all the elements and tactics you need to create a sound business plan and set yourself up for success.

A business plan leads to premier results

Katerina Grant is the Director and founder at Kat & Co, an award-winning creative events and production agency. Grant is an events industry expert, having worked in the space for 15 years in Australia and overseas on high profile projects such as the revival of the infamous Cointreau Ball with Dita Von Teese, the International Olympic Committee’s VIP ‘Olympic Club’ at the Torino Olympics and the NBC Upfront Parties at the Rockefeller Centre.

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Her clients include luxury fashion houses, multinational high street retailers, media outlets, airlines, tech companies, fine liquors and hoteliers such as Hermes, Marie Claire, Google, Tiffany & Co, Emirates, H&M, Van Cleef and Arpels, Westfield, Magic Millions and the Nine Network.

Grant began her own business in 2012 and created her first plan by asking herself very direct questions about the type of company she wanted to create.

“It was a given that I loved producing events that set the benchmark in creativity, ideation and innovation,” she says.

“Some of the questions included; Why do I love what I do? What is unique about that? What does it mean to be the best at that? What kind of impact do I want to make through the work we produce? The rest followed on organically – from building a team, to building a portfolio of clients and work, processes etc. and we continue to do so.”

Grant’s plan includes two tiers. The first includes Kat & Co’s vision, mission, position and values, while the second tier outlines objectives, strategies and action plans – both continual and immediate.

Grant says her business plan is constantly evolving and she re-evaluates it once a month.

“Our work relies on innovation and ideation and for me that needs to be supported by a business plan that is dynamic, bold and brave,” she says.

“I continually refer to it to measure our progress and help us maintain our focus. At the same time I am aware that the business plan needs to be constantly evolving in order for us to remain relevant and competitive.”

Grant says this process has allowed Kat & Co to flourish and achieve numerous awards and recognition, including being named Australian Event Company of the Year in 2015 and winning the Australian Event Awards best in design accolade for their Prix de Marie Claire fashion and beauty awards.

Grant’s top three tips for business planning

  1. Purpose and conviction is important to a great plan, but so is transformation and flexibility. Evolve and adapt to the dynamic environment around you.
  2. Review your plan every month.
  3. Don’t limit your vision, be brave and lead with ideas not with practicalities. It will inspire greater purpose and realise greater success.

Building a healthy business

Carrie Griffin worked in finance for 10 years and was a stay-at-home-mum with three kids when she started health service, Mandurah Body Mechanics in WA. She became interested in studying Emmett Technique, a light-touch body therapy, while recovering from a netball injury and has grown from a one-woman practitioner renting a room in a gym to having her own studio which rents rooms to a chiropractor, kinesiologist and remedial massage therapist as well as a full-time administration manager.

Griffin did a course with business coach Belle Lockerby to get the basics of running her own show, and created a plan at the very beginning. Initially it was quite simple but now includes a vision, SWOT analysis, mission statement and annual goals. Within a year, she has been able to achieve at least half her ‘big’ goals.

“One of my goals was to work enough so my husband could be a stay-at-home dad,” she tells SmartCompany.

“And just over a year from when I started, my husband is at home with our three kids so that is really cool. I think if you don’t have a plan, then it is just a dream.”

Having a finance background was a big advantage, particularly when she invested all their savings into the new premises.

“Because I come from a finance background we did our business planning in the first couple of weeks, and I am always referring back and making sure I check my figures. The finance part was easy – it’s other things like the marketing that I struggle with,” she says.

She got advice from her coach but also other women in business on areas she wasn’t certain about – marketing being her main concern.

Griffin worked backwards with her business plan; she worked out how much she needed to earn to have her husband at home, cover her costs and make a living, then figured out how many treatments she needed to do in order to make it happen.

“We need 40 treatments a week to survive and 50 to thrive so we always book 50 a week,” she says. “We are always fully booked so we are very lucky.”

Griffin also sets weekly goals to keep herself on target. These include booking in those 50 clients, sticking to the agreed marketing plan and posting five times a week on Facebook, requesting customer reviews, chasing up gyms for referrals and having weekly team meetings.

Griffin’s top four tips for business planning:

  1. Set weekly goals as a short-term measure of success.
  2. Review your plan annually or when you want to make big changes.
  3. Listen to others more experienced than you and follow their advice to make your plan work for you.

Don’t stress about the aspects of your business you aren’t comfortable with – outsource.

Getting started

Business Propel enables businesses to take action on their business planning; putting both Griffin’s and Grant’s top tips into practice.

Charisse Gray, Managing Editor & Senior Business Writer, Business Propel, says “our business plan builder is one of our most popular features as it allows you to not only set short term goals and measure their success, but provides flexibility for making the changes required in a dynamic, rapidly evolving business environment.”

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Business Propel is a smart online business tool that helps you to achieve business goals and plan for the future. Develop a plan to start or improve your business and watch your business grow year-on-year.