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When business planning is right for you

Thinking about where your business is going and how you’ll get there is always helpful. But doing that before important stages is essential for success and can help you better understand how those stages affect your business.

It can be tempting to act on impulse. But acting impulsively in business can be as risky as going on a hike without a map or a compass.

Common planning mistakes include:

  • failing to plan ahead of a big decision or milestone
  • deciding first, then planning, instead of planning first, then using your plan to guide your decision
  • reacting to things instead of anticipating what can happen and planning ahead.

How to write a business plan

Important times to plan

Make sure you plan the times below. Timing will make a big difference.

Starting out

Plan before you start a business. Starting a business takes resources, and planning will help you understand important things like:

  • What exactly is my product or service?
  • What will it cost to make it?
  • Who’s going to buy it?
  • What will they pay for it?
  • How much income will I have?

Planning will help you set realistic goals and milestones.

Asking for funding or investment

Plan to understand how much money you need, and to share your business dream with investors better.

Potential investors and banks will want to see how your business is performing and understand your plans for growth. They need to be convinced you can repay their money, or that their investment will make a return.

Not meeting your current plan

Monitor your business plan regularly to see if you’re meeting your goals. If you’re not, you may need to change your plan, to identify how to improve where to put your resources.

Coming across unforeseen trends, events or circumstances

When the unexpected happens, plan what to do. Think about how to make the most of the new opportunities, and about what changes you’ll need to make to your product or service.

New trends may affect your business. For example, what does it mean for your coffee shop if everyone stops drinking coffee and starts drinking tea? What does it mean if people work from home?

Looking to expand your business

Plan before you take your business in a new direction or into a new phase, and before you take up new business opportunities. Think about how the changes fit with your current business plan. How will they affect your existing business? What will they cost and how will you make them happen? You may need to adjust your plan before you launch a new product or open a new branch.

Thinking about exporting

Plan before you export to improve your chances of success. Exporting is like starting a new business. You’ll need to consider the feasibility of your new market and understand things like:

  • how you can make money
  • what exporting will cost
  • what compliance issues you’ll face
  • how you’ll enter the new market.

Create a good export plan

Useful tools for exporters(external link) — myNZTE



Case study

Case study

Fast moving food

After spending 17 hours making dumplings, Vicky Ha of House of Dumplings loaded up her cargo bike and drove to her first market… and sold out within two hours.

"Priority number one is making sure someone wants your product. Is your food that amazing or that special? And don't ask your family."

Since launching in 2012, House of Dumplings has grown from its small-scale beginnings. “Today we’ve got our market stall, our restaurant, we’re in supermarkets and do catering and cooking classes,” says Ha.

With a focus on growing sustainably, Vicky knows where she wants to take her business and makes sure there’s customer demand before increasing supply. This allows her to grow without borrowing money.

“I don’t think a business plan should be three pages of words. It should be about your goals. I want to go nationwide and I want to go out of New Zealand. I want to have those markets conquered and I’ve got that plan, but it’s more of an Excel doc than a Word one."

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