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I was at the excellent Venturefest event in Oxford last week and saw an interesting presentation about what sets apart the average business from those that enjoy hyper growth.
Interestingly, according to the research presented, hardly anyone cited finance, or lack of it, as a core issue. Two-thirds of them suggested that the lack of a clear strategic plan and the management to implement it were far greater barriers.
So I thought it might be interesting - response rates to this will bear out whether I was right - to find out how many of you, my regular (or maybe just occasional) readers, have a clear, concise business plan (WRITTEN DOWN, otherwise it's not real) to cover the next 1 - 3 years, say.
I know how many people receive this, and what the opening rates are, so I'll be able to gauge whether response rates constitute a quorum that would justify publishing the data. I'll send a digest of the responses received to anyone who participates. If you can't be bothered or have better things to do, I'll fully understand.
So, do you have a written business plan, even if it's just a couple of pages (I'm a great fan of brevity myself), including some financial objectives and the clear means of achieving them?  YES/NO
A Yes or No in the subject matter to a reply to this will suffice, though as always, I'd be happy to receive more fulsome comments.


In case this has prompted you finally to stop procrastinating and actually do one, you might find it interesting to hear what the leaders of hyper growth companies ascribe to their success, other than just having the right idea/product/service in the right place at the right time. The list is extensive, and clearly not everyone subscribes to everything on it, but still …

1. Vision
If you don't know where you're trying to get, how can your staff, customers or advisers help you get there?
2. Planning
It's all very well having a clear idea of what you want to achieve, but how are you actually going to achieve it?
3. People
Without the right team in place, fully trained and motivated, you have little chance of success.
4. Positive culture
As part of the above, encouraging creativity, team building, continuous professional development and recognition of individual and group contributions to the business's successes are all important ingredients.
5. Collaboration
You can't always do it all on your own. Many businesses benefit from partnering arrangements with other organisations that can add value to their offering (and vice versa).
6. Risk taking
No one is advocating betting the house on a long-shot, but calculated risk taking is essential to high growth.
7. Learn from mistakes
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, providing you take positive action as a result of any reverses (which virtually every business will have).
8.Clarity of purpose
This brings us back full circle to where we began. Why exactly are you in business (and why should anyone care)? List a maximum of three key priorities for you and your business.

I know: all this rolls off the tongue awfully easily, and I know from experience that it always looks a lot simpler when you look back on it, once you've made it happen, but by learning what works for others, you have a better chance of planning your own success - however you perceive that to look.

So, business plan on paper? Yes or No?

And as a subsidiary question, if you feel up to it, what period of time does the plan cover?

Need help clarifying and articulating your own business plan and strategy? That's exactly where business advisers like me come in. But if you do turn to an objective outsider for help and advice, must make sure they have actually run a business of substance themselves, and have achieved the sort of business objectives in their own lives that you are aiming for.

David Croydon: 01844 238692 or e-mail

For more information, or to arrange a no-strings-attached initial meeting, contact:  

David Croydon

Hilltop Consultancy
Business Advice Oxford, Oxfordshire