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When business planning is right for you

You should always be thinking about where your business is going and how you’re going to get there – but there are key milestones when business planning is essential. Business planning before these important milestones can help you understand the impact these changes will have on your business.

Starting out

Starting a business takes resources. Before you start you need to understand the business you’re getting into – what product or service you’re going to sell, who is going to buy it, how much it’s going to cost and what your income will be.

Planning before you get into business will help you answer these questions and set goals and milestones for the future.

Looking for funding or investment

Potential investors and banks will want to see how your business is performing and understand your plans for growth. They’ll need to be convinced you’re going to be able to pay the money back, or that they’ll get a return on their investment.

Business planning will help you share your story with investors and understand how much money you need to reach your future plans.

Not meeting your current plan

By regularly monitoring your business plan you’ll be able to see if you’re meeting your goals. If you’re not, you may need to reassess your business plan.

Business planning will help you identify opportunities for you to improve your business and where you should be putting your resources to meet your goals.

Unforeseen trends, events or circumstances

New trends that affect your industry may have an impact on your business, eg if everyone stops drinking coffee and starts drinking tea, what does this mean for your coffee shop?

Business planning will help you think about ways you can make the most of these new opportunities and any changes you’ll need to make to your product or service.

Looking to expand your business

You’ll need to plan before entering a new phase or taking up new business opportunities, eg introducing a new product to your range or opening a new branch.

Business planning will help you understand how the new direction works with your current business plan, the impact it will have on your business, the costs and how you’re going to go about it.

Considering exporting

Exporting is like starting a new business. You’ll need to consider the feasibility of your new market.

Business planning will help you understand how you can make money, how much it will cost, your compliance issues and how you’re going to enter the new market.

Think about exporting (external link) — New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Accordian House of Dumplings 03

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."

Common mistakes
  • Not doing business planning ahead of a big decision or milestone.
  • Making a decision then doing a plan, as opposed to making decisions that are in the business plan.
  • Reacting to things that come up instead of planning.

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