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To Plan or Not To Plan

9th April 2018

That is, indeed, a good question. In this lean, mean, fast-moving world what’s the point of a business plan? Who was it who said that “no plan survives first contact with the enemy”? And haven’t we all got better things to do? Making stuff, talking to customers; just stopping the wheels falling off can feel like a full-time job.

But successful businesses still write plans, and a recent study reported in Harvard Business Review showed that “entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical non-planning entrepreneurs.”

It’s true that many business start-ups can get going without resorting to writing a plan, but once they start to grow and the decision-making multiplies exponentially, a well-thought-out business plan is exactly what you need to help you allocate precious resource and manage risk. And if you’re asking people to invest in you, a good business plan is almost compulsory.

One business that Levercliff helped recently is Hilltop Honey in Newtown, Wales.

A home-grown success story, beekeeper Scott, 29, started Hilltop Honey in his parents’ kitchen with a £5,000 overdraft from the Natwest Bank in 2011. Six years later, he is supplying Welsh, British and European honey, comb honey and bee pollen to major high street, online and international customers.

Scott’s initial success meant that Hilltop Honey was outgrowing its original 2,500 sq ft home. Scott could see that without room to expand production the company would soon be unable to meet demand.

Working within the Welsh Government’s Food Business Investment Scheme (FBIS) Scott was able to access Levercliff’s support to develop a long-term business plan. Scott’s plan mapped out his sales growth plans and the operational and investment plans to support them.

With his new plan in hand Scott has been able to secure funding for, and complete a move to a new 14,000 sq ft unit in Newtown where the company expects to expand its workforce from 12 to 20 by the end of this year.

The company’s new headquarters was officially opened by Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths. The £750,000 expansion project has been supported by the Welsh Government, Natwest Bank and Finance Wales.

Scott said: “We are thrilled that our contracts with the major supermarkets are growing, but we needed to expand to fulfil our orders and to keep pace with the growth projected in our business plan.”

“Levercliff really helped me formulate and organise my thoughts, and challenged me to justify my plans and forecasts. In writing the business plan I learned a lot about my business and how the commercial and operations sides interact”.

“We are an ambitious company with exciting plans for the next five years and our new premises mean that we can increase production and hire more staff. We are looking to diversify our brand and strengthen our place in the UK honey market, so watch this space!”

To plan, or not to plan?

I think Scott knows the answer.

Will Shaw.

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