The Operational Plan – Keeping the Balance!

As a new small business owner, you need to carefully consider how your business will operate on a day to day basis.  When writing your business plan it is essential that you include an operational plan.  This is one of the most overlooked parts of a business plan.  Why is it so important?  The operational plan will help to keep your business and you balanced as you start and grow your business. 

As a business consultant I find it amazing how many people forget to include or even consider an operational plan.  It may be that they think that the operation of the business can be handled by just showing up every day and going through the day to day motions of running the business.  True, daily operations are important but a new business should never underestimate the power of an operational plan.  It breaks it all down and shows your control over the business and keeps everything running smoothly and on schedule.  To sum it up – it keeps you sane.

Whether you are starting a service, retail, wholesale, manufacturing, or an import/export business, you need to write an operational plan.

It should include:

  • your hours of operation
  • the seasonality of your business
  • details of your credit terms with suppliers
  • information about your customers. (Perhaps a data base could be used for your client information… but that is for another blog!)
  • information about your employee requirements and who is doing what.  What are their responsibilities and qualifications?  You need to know what your employees are doing to get the product to where it needs to be or provide amazing service to the customer.

If you are going to be manufacturing a product, the operational plan should describe in detail the whole manufacturing process and this includes the very first stage of development right through to the distribution of the product in the market place.  This not only will help you track your product or inventory but it lets you calculate when to reorder and ship more product.  There is no use in having a product if you do not have a plan of how to take it from the development stage to the market place.

You may also want to include technology and its uses in your business.  What equipment do you need to carry out your day to day needs?  Include a regular maintenance plan.

The plan needs to talk about your location.  It is very important to cover requirements such as parking and accessibility.  You need to ask yourself – Does this location have easy walk-in access?

The plan should include the actual activity involved and not just the concept.  When you first put it on paper it allows you to test it out and make adjustments so that you are working and producing effectively and meeting the needs of your customers.

Operations do not handle themselves.   The success of the business depends on a well thought-out operational plan.
Check out our online Resources for Starting a New Business. For more information about any of Halton’s Small Business Centre resources and services, contact us at 1-866-4HALTON (42-5866), www.halton.ca/business, busdev@halton.ca or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville.

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