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5 Steps to Writing Your Annual Business Plan – Quickly and Easily

Many recruiters don’t bother writing a business plan. They either think it’s too hard, or believe it’s not necessary unless you’re trying to secure funding. That’s a shame because writing a business plan need not be difficult or time-consuming. And whether you’re a recruiter, manager or recruitment business owner, planning has a tremendously positive impact on your performance and profits.

If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing that you’ve decided to write a business plan but are not sure exactly what to write or even where to start. In this article, I’m going to give you a step-by-step process to follow which makes writing your business plan a snap.

Step One is to consider the purpose and intended audience of your business plan. Who are you writing for? Why are you writing a business plan? What do you want your plan to achieve?

Step Two is to decide on the format of your business plan. For recruitment consultants and solo recruiters, a 2-3 page Word document is sufficient. For department managers or recruitment company directors, you might choose to create your business plan in presentation software such as PowerPoint or Keynote so you can easily communicate your plan with others.

Step Three is to brainstorm an outline by listing the main topics your plan will cover. For this stage I like to create a “mindmap” (spider diagram) using flipchart paper and pens. Alternatively you could use mindmapping software such as Mindjet MindManager or iMindMap. There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page, so don’t worry about it being perfect. The goal at this stage is just to get all your ideas down on paper in whatever order they occur to you.You can edit the topic list later, and put it into the proper sequence. Give yourself a time limit, and if in doubt don’t deliberate – just write it down.

Here are some sample headings for a desk-level business plan:

  • Financial Objectives
  • Strategic Objectives
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Market Sector(s)
  • Value Proposition / Differentiators
  • Key Accounts (and Expected Value)
  • Sales Plan – Activity Targets and Ratios
  • Marketing Tactics
  • Marketing Calendar
  • Critical Success Factors (80/20 Rule)
  • Minimum Acceptable Levels

If you’re a manager,you will also want to include:

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Sales Forecast (broken down by team and/or individual)
  • Projected Headcount (by month for next 12 months)

Finally if you’re the owner/director, the financials are critically important.Your finance manager or accountant can help you with this part:

  • Profit & Loss Forecast
  • Cash Flow Forecast
  • Balance Sheet

Step Four is to move the sections (or slides) around until you have them in a logical order. Group similar items together and decide which ones are the main headings and which are the subheads. You might find that some topics you wrote down are pretty similar, so delete the duplicates.

Step Five is to fill in the details underneath each heading. This is not a school project, so complete sentences are not required. Just write in bullet point format. And remember you can complete the sections in any order – that’s the beauty of a mindmap.And there you have it – you’re done!

Hopefully this article has demystified the business planning process for you, and inspired you to get started. Business planning doesn’t have to be painful – it can even be fun! Your first action item is to schedule time in your calendar to work on your business plan. Why not seize the day and do it right now!

Top Tip: If you’re better at talking than writing, then play to your strengths. Ask a colleague to interview you, using the business plan outline headings as questions. Record the conversation, and have it transcribed. Voilà! Instant business plan. If your business plan is for an external audience (e.g. lenders, investors), you could even hire a freelance editor on elance to polish the transcription into an extremely impressive business plan.

Mark Whitby
 

Mark Whitby is one of the world's leading coaches for the recruitment industry. Since 2001, he has trained over 10,000 recruiters in 34 countries. Mark has helped recruiters to double or triple their billings and owners to increase their team's sales by 67% in 90 days.

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