Roy Shelton, the managing Partner of DropJaw Ventures Group CEO has been involved in multiple businesses throughout his career and has also invested in lots of businesses such as Doncaster-based tech firm Connectus Group, bushcraft and survival training firm Spartan Survival, Ed-tech firm Gluu and Digital Transformation agency The Urban Tech Group.

Roy shares his advice on preparing the very best business plan.

Roy Shelton

The golden rule
Preparing a business plan which is realistic and believable is vital for any business. Start by remembering one golden rule: running a business is running a business and you have to quickly figure out why you run the business you do, rather than take a paid employee role. Any plan you make should also take into account that running a business is unlikely to be for the faint-hearted. Strap yourself in for months (if not years) of personal and social sacrifice and missing out on family and other social gatherings due to the long days, sleepless nights, and demanding staff and customers. Get it right and the rewards are massive.

Create a clear vision
A clear vision, direction, and ability to pivot are needed to achieve these rewards – as is a detailed plan. ‘Top-down, bottom-up’ planning is the key. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to input into a business plan while locking in checks and balances on what is realistic and viable. Always ensure stakeholders have had an opportunity to offer their input in the plan as they will then be more likely to embrace and contribute to the plan moving forwards.

The key questions
A plan should aim to break key questions such as: What do you want the business to be? What do you aspire towards? How do you want to be perceived by the marketplace? What problem are you fixing? And what value do you create for your clients? Once you’ve answered these then ask: How are you going to create this value in an efficient and repeatable manner? How will you measure success? And how will you pivot if you need to?

Who owns what?
Having clear ownership of agreed actions, timescales to deliver, roles and responsibilities is vital too. These need to be made clear across all the strategic operating areas of the business including sales, marketing, admin, finance, customer delivery, IT, and HR. Getting this right brings clarity of purpose. Once aligned you are more likely to have a team contributing and delivering on the agreed vision which will help drive the desired performance, culture, and outcomes.

How will you measure success?
Build-in mechanisms to your plan to measure, measure and then measure again. Look at all outputs each month. Ask whether the incremental planned improvements have been delivered. If not, why not? If these improvements have successfully been implemented and if so was the forecast outcome achieved? If so, how can you do more? If not, why not? Build-in double control loops so if you have to pivot the tasks or the measurement, then your plan is dynamic enough to allow that to happen. Business plans are not tablets of stone and should allow for the company to retain the ability to adapt.

Being focused does not mean you cannot remain dynamic
Covid-19 was a substantial moment and when lockdown happened a huge market opened up for a company called Gluu, a leading Edtech company that I invested in two years ago. Gluu is 100% focused on improving the learning, mental health, and wellbeing of students and teachers. EdTech expenditure is set to nearly double in the period 2020-2025 with the digital share increasing to 5.2%. Only 3.6% of the nearly $6 trillion education market is digital spend, suggesting there is a market ripe for disruption. Here is a great example of a tech company pivoting into online learning and tutoring due to lockdowns which will now continue in that space.

Get your priorities right
Another key point to remember in any plan is prioritisation. Logical and sequential thinking is crucial to the success of any company. If you don’t market yourself in the right way, then you don’t get leads and capture customers. If you don’t have the back-end functions and operations, then you cannot deliver the project and support the customer. If you don’t deliver the project and support the customer, then you don’t collect the cash. Appreciate and understand the complexity of your value chain, and aim to understand who does what and when. Prioritise your efforts on fixing issues before they occur and make things more efficient by thinking through the logical and sequential process of enquiry to cash with the least resistance.

Take time to reflect
Finally, you can’t underestimate taking time out to reflect. When you have a limited amount of physical or fiscal resources within your business – revert to the basics. Planning and resourcing should be at the heart of everything you do, regardless if it is resource and capacity planning in operations, cash flow management, sales, or a PR marketing strategy.

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