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A 5 yr business plan in 2 days for £2900 - useful?

Would a detailed 5 year business plan created in a two day workshop be useful for your customers?

I am just wondering if Accountancy firms (if they don't do their own) would be interested in offering a comprehensive 5 year marketing plan to their customers that don't have a written plan - format: one day workshop week one, one day workshop week two with likeminded businesses (great for idea swapping)  = comprehensive 30+ page report with access to it online on an ongoing basis to tweek on a live month by month basis. Benefits = greater growth, less change of failing, cashflow management... Support/advise also available to stay 'on plan' month by month. Does this sound of interest? I am just doing some research on this.

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30th Apr 2019 10:12

No.
Can't say what will happen in 5 months let alone 5 years.

Complete waste of time.

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to memyself-eye
30th Apr 2019 10:23

Thanks. Wouldn't a plan mitigate risk and ensure more success or growth?

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to memyself-eye
30th Apr 2019 10:30

Thanks for the comment. Don't you think robust businesses have goals of say 10% growth per annum (keeping things simple) and therefore need a plan to achieve those targets. Every business I have worked in does.

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to Simon Davis
12th Jun 2019 14:13

Thread closed. As a reminder, our community rules state: "Any Answers and comments must not include self-promotional content."

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30th Apr 2019 10:18

No.

Detailed 5 year business plans tend to be prepared for banks and others who also don't understand business.

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to Wanderer
30th Apr 2019 10:27

Thanks for your comment. Agreed, this would be by people who understand business and have a track record of helping businesses succeed

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By Mr_awol
to Simon Davis
02nd May 2019 14:00

Simon Davis wrote:

Thanks for your comment. Agreed, this would be by people who understand business and have a track record of helping businesses succeed

I'm not sure if this a is pointed retort, or if Wanderer's post has genuinely gone over your head.

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By Mr_awol
30th Apr 2019 10:19

I'd be more interested in dipping my balls in petrol and swinging them inches over a lit candle.

My clients would probably be even less interested than that.

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30th Apr 2019 10:22

5-year plans are for big businesses that need to plan that far ahead because rapid change is impossible.

Very few businesses at practice level will have any interest in planning that far ahead. Even less will be willing to stump up £2,900 for it.

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to stepurhan
30th Apr 2019 10:34

Thanks for the comment. Business planning is about making a business successful (even smaller ones, say turning over £200K+) and if you had an exit plan - say in 5 years time - wouldn't this be ideal in working the plan back from 5 year to now and roadmapping the whole thing and working towards the end result?

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to Simon Davis
30th Apr 2019 14:02

Businesses manage to be successful without 5 year plans. There is a difference between having a plan that extends far into the future and not planning at all.

If a client is planning to exit the business, then a plan covering that period is probably worthwhile. That's a specific situation though. You are talking about this as something to roll out across the board.

Do you know what the tax law will be in 5 years time? How do you suggest businesses operating within the EU plan for the next 5 years? What about those faced with the changed approach to IR35 coming next year?

As I said, 5 year plans are for businesses that are too big to adapt quickly to changes. By contrast, one of my clients was able to change their asset acquisition plans almost immediately when the AIA went up. Would a 5 year plan not serve as a brake to such actions, since the whole plan would have to be revised.

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By Slim
30th Apr 2019 10:34

It wouldnt work with my small clients, they seem to know what they want and its all in the head of the business owner who knows the industry. Also, that is a lot of cash for most small businesses.

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30th Apr 2019 10:40

I think it will be difficult to generate a lot of enthusiasm.

Micro businesses tend not to plan that way, unless they are embarking on a material change in their trade or substantial growth.

The large businesses, for whom it is 'essential', will already have an established process in place which might be difficult to dislodge.

Your best bet might be the inbetweenies who are see the value and are not big enough to have in-house expertise to carry it out.

Don't be too put off by the comments. I've met a lot of accountants who don't understand business.

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30th Apr 2019 10:38

As I was once told by a senior chap when I was training,

"any business plan longer than one side of A4 is prepared by people who don't understand business planning"

I tend to agree.

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
30th Apr 2019 10:50

If you have a large company, lots of people, lots of departments, how do you make a business plan one page long relevant to each of them as they go about their daily work?

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to andy.partridge
30th Apr 2019 12:29

For large business as someone has pointed out that would be covered through their standard processes and I can't imagine any large business would not have a 5 year business plan already - this is more for SME's or Start-ups I would say with an owner and or small board/management team 10-50 employees and £200k-£5m revenue I would suggest - happy to be challenged on that

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to Simon Davis
30th Apr 2019 13:22

Simon Davis wrote:

For large business as someone has pointed out that would be covered through their standard processes and I can't imagine any large business would not have a 5 year business plan already -

I know. That was actually me. Please keep up.

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to andy.partridge
30th Apr 2019 13:31

Apologies Andy - I will try to!

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to andy.partridge
30th Apr 2019 13:32

@Andy first post, I don't think it matters how big the company is. A 5 year plan would only be a vague idea of the direction of travel of the business. Ie strategic.

Under that strategic plan, there may be implementation plans running to 100's of page. Eg the 5 year plan for a business might be as simple as "close factory A, relocate to B" might be all it says. The plan to actually close the factory (ie specific event) might run to hundreds of details documents. But that is a "doing" plan, and that itself will be broken out being the overall strategy "close by X" and the "how we get there"

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
30th Apr 2019 18:08

That's not what you said in your earlier post, though, is it?

What was it you said about 'any' business plan that ran to more than 1 page?

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30th Apr 2019 10:51

I'm not comfortable in selling anything to my clients outside of my area of expertise and, short of a brief dabble with some pig entrails at university, I'm not experienced in fortune telling.

I'll stick to selling my services, and ancillary services I know from personal experience to be worthwhile, like accountancy software. Everyone else can do their own selling and I'll be advising firmly against the use of prognosticators.

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30th Apr 2019 10:54

5 year plan is way to far out to plan and not needed for anything other than high level figures

I work on a 90 day which is pretty much to the penny and a 12 month plan

Anything else is not really needed as you would just have to constantly amend, correct and flex them to deal with changes that occur

For 12 months is enough to plan

In a 30 page plan or whatever you are offering only the first few pages are actually read the test is just flannel to justify the cost

Business owners want a single page with everything they want on it

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to Glennzy
30th Apr 2019 11:18

I agree with most of what you say, Glenn, but consider actual and/or potential investors in a larger concern who want to be persuaded that they will see an adequate return over a 3 to 5 year period.

There will be some accountants who poo-poo the idea because it is not in their skillset to supply it.

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to andy.partridge
30th Apr 2019 12:19

Andy totally agree the plan needs to fit the purpose.

for the scenario you mention i get the need for 3 to 5 years projections. If i was doing them years 4 and 5 would be just projected totals not the detail of the first few years.

Most business I deal with now would manage with a rolling 12 month plan though.

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to Glennzy
30th Apr 2019 12:38

Glennzy wrote:

If i was doing them years 4 and 5 would be just projected totals not the detail of the first few years.

Fair point when there are no ctitical interventions to routine trading. But consider, "Year 4 we will be looking to exploit the USA market, year 5 we will consequently need to acquire new production facilities." Important to an investor looking to plan to inject more funds or looking to exit.

If specific action is expected that changes the shape of the business, the outcome needs to be in the plan. If the plan is simply to run as we are and a expect a bit of organic growth, the plan is easier to prepare, but possibly of less value, even worthless.

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By DJKL
30th Apr 2019 11:02

Unclear if the offering is merely a marketing plan or is actually a business plan?

If a marketing plans I see little point re what we do (property investment/letting commercial property in the tertiary market.) Established delivery mechanisms re advertising availability are pretty obvious via web/agents/even old fashioned boards, and I have little issue with occupancy (currently 100% let)

Now I have written a fair few business plans for banks etc over the years, in fact following the financial crash and our need to manage a significant property disposal programme ,to appease their wrath, I was writing them, amending them, monitoring actual to them for a pretty solid three year period, the completed copies by themselves now occupy two deed storage boxes within our filing room; I probably did little else in that period

In my opinion and experience they are worse than useless if not bespoke, which means a form filling software portal where out pops the finished item is a waste of time.

Accordingly, the question is, is your offering a feed in data at the back out pops a report at the front beast or have you somehow managed to teach people to write well in a mere two days as they proceed to write articulate and well structured free form reports?

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to DJKL
30th Apr 2019 11:23

Thanks for the detailed reply, appreciated. It is a compete financial based business plan I am discussing - yes software based and is very detailed and very bespoke. The workshop would involve the business owners coming up with the figures and inputting (in association with their accountant if need be) and work on these for two days (second day would be a week later to allow for thought and accuracy) to get the report so it would be very comprehensive, bespoke and useful. Its not just a report and thats it as you would adjust as you go along month by month and the results would subsequently change to provide a live view of progress and that would enable a full understanding of how the plan is v reality and thus working to 'stay on plan' fairly straight forward. Surely any business that wants to grow and be successful would invest in such an offering - clearly it would also be very useful for a start-up to create such a business plan to support financing and investment

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30th Apr 2019 11:07

Sign me up for 5, should see me through to retirement!

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to MissAccounting
30th Apr 2019 11:14

I'm planning to win the big one on the premium bonds tomorrow - as I'm 65 already I can retire the day after.

Mind you I said that 1,3 AND 5 years ago!

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to memyself-eye
30th Apr 2019 11:26

Good luck with that!

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to memyself-eye
30th Apr 2019 13:26

memyself-eye wrote:

I'm planning to win the big one on the premium bonds tomorrow - as I'm 65 already I can retire the day after.

Mind you I said that 1,3 AND 5 years ago!

Was it in your 5 year plan? If not you are up the creek without a paddle!

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to MissAccounting
30th Apr 2019 17:48

Ahh...my five year plan 20 years ago was to win big then. I only had £2k on the premium bonds, so that didn't work out too well.
Had to start this 'bean counting' lark instead.
Now have £40k invested - bound to win........soon.

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to MissAccounting
30th Apr 2019 13:02

There would of course be commission for accountants who's customers sign up - see it as adding value to what you offer plus with a robust business plan they are more likely to 1) stay in business which would benefit you 2) grow - increasing their need for accountancy support and more revenue for you. Win win!

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to Simon Davis
01st May 2019 10:07

Whose.

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30th Apr 2019 11:25

I think it was Alexei Sayle who once said "Anyone who uses the word 'workshop', who is not directly involved in light engineering, is a complete [email protected]".

Have you any evidence that 2 days of your time is worth £2,900? If so, could you give some examples?

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to Accountant A
30th Apr 2019 11:34

Ah good question! It's not my time, it is the system (tried and tested over 10 years), output and ongoing value that should be the measurement. I am under the impression accountants would charge £5-15k for this sort of detailed plan and take two weeks plus to deliver (time for me to be shot down in flames?), which would also be based an accountants understanding of the business and not the business owner who would clearly have a better (I would hope) picture of what he or she sees how the business would develop. You wouldn't take a holiday without planning it, surely a robust and detailed plan would be an investment worth making for any business owner at this level?

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By DJKL
to Simon Davis
30th Apr 2019 12:29

So questions-

1. Is it integrated?

- I would want a fully integrated model with input fields that created a profit and loss, balance sheet and cashflow. The output I am really interested in is the cashflow but I need the profit and loss to calculate tax that will impact the cashflow in the future and the balance sheet is a useful check that at least the debits and credits are robust;"it balances"

Forecast Tax calcs within the model need to say be capable of dealing with chargeable gains, indexation up to 31.12.17, etc, and this is the point, excel lets me write all of this, integrated with the projections, I really doubt an off the shelf solution could auto calculate future taxes if much more complex than add back depreciation deduct CAs/AIA etc. Comments?

2. The above deals with the numbers but not the words, a business plan is far more than mere numerical analysis, how it is written, even choice of words, can tilt how a lender views the proposition- I was lucky that when dealing with irate banks post 2008 I had a very experienced mentor (A CA who has experience sitting at board level with a decent number of larger Scottish companies and had spent his life dealing with irate banks etc) who helped guide a nuanced presentation, crucial as with some lenders one only gets one pop at selling the proposition; accordingly imho time is not crucial re completing the opus it is attention to detail that is crucial and very clear expression within the narrative to sell the proposition.

Having said the above I think tech is overtaking how we deal with lenders, a few years ago I was chatting with a funding intermediary whose business was working on an online platform that was to connect prospective borrowers with numerous subscribed lenders, I suspect that is going to be the future, complete one application in standard form it is distributed to 40-50 lenders all at the same time.

And this is where I think your offering falls down, it is not really set (as far as I am aware) to present information to myriad lenders as they want it presented re fund raising/replacing banks and accounts software (or at least the better software) tends to have scope for actual to budget monitoring inbuilt re in house monitoring of progress against targets-you seem to be heading into a marketplace that is less and less relevant these days and is possibly neither fish nor fowl.

Apologies if I have misunderstood what you are offering, catch is I firmly believe the best projections are very bespoke projections and have been writing my own for a very long time.

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to DJKL
30th Apr 2019 13:04

Hi, I appreciate your time in replying. Yes it is integrated and after the plan is created it will be live (its cloud based) and allow for ongoing inputs, changes and remodelling should that be required. The bottom line of the offer is to provide a powerful plan that a business can implement to make growth achievable and sustainable. Benefits being: helping owners improve and grow their business, help sell their business, perhaps franchise their business, raise finance, attract investors, secure grants, succession planning, etc.

As for the taxes without a crystal ball that would be based on known fact and would be adjusted as and when known changes are ahead.

It is both the numbers and the words - so yes it should satisfy the your points in 2.

An interesting point is if you search for 'Business Plans' on Google say v 'Business Consulting' there are by far more searches on the former which I think says something.

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By DJKL
to Simon Davis
30th Apr 2019 13:30

The catch is the taxes feed from the projections, you need to consider that if say forecast sales increase and you tweak to reflect that then the tax payable say 9 months and a day post that particular year end will change (if say a company); you cannot be manually recalculating the figure every time the projections get changed/tweaked, you need to accomodate taxes into the forecasting so that sales increase, GP% improves, costs driven down, more tax payable pops out without manual input, even if only rough calcs.

The fact is that it is actually large lumpy tax payments that are more likely to unsettle business cashflows and so including them is crucial.

The position might get even more complex with sole traders/LLPs/ partnerships with payments to account etc, and this is why bespoke modelling is useful, you set the sheets up to extract the forecast profit from the P & L sheets, adjust it for tax disallowances/reliefs, auto allocate to say partners, allow their PAs, calculate tax and class IV and feed these sums back into the cashflows re the required drawings.

Otherwise what you will have is a forecast of profits before tax and the cashflows over five years, especially with growing profits (which is the point), will over time significantly diverge in reality from the forecasts meaning the cashflows actually were misleading you earlier re available resources.

Tax, like any other expenses, is a cost, a variable cost, and software for forecasting needs to consider this to be of any value re managing cash.

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to DJKL
30th Apr 2019 13:35

All very valid and sensible comments - thank you once again

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30th Apr 2019 13:49

How can you bother to think about 5 year plans when we currently have Brexit hard & soft/No deal/Remain/ Norway deal/Canada deal/Mass immolation etc

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to bernard michael
30th Apr 2019 14:22

I feel that way about all the things I am reluctant to do. My lawn is knee high. Bloody Brexit.

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By DJKL
to andy.partridge
30th Apr 2019 14:35

A bit of grazing livestock like a goat is the way to go, deals with the grass and if food supply issues kill the livestock and eat it.

My solution to the grass cutting re our Edinburgh house was to remove all the grass about 15 years ago, catch is it now needs a further major landscaping job that is currently going really slowly as I am fifteen years older;-I suppose my dodgy knees could also be blamed on Brexit.

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to DJKL
30th Apr 2019 18:30

Get some Poles in to sort your garden out before they get rounded up and sent packing

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to Glennzy
01st May 2019 08:59

Glennzy wrote:

Get some Poles in to sort your garden out before they get rounded up and sent packing

Can make quite a lot with scaffold poles to be fair, swings, goals, climbing frames, maybe even a table and chairs. Agree we may have to switch to a lower quality Chinese steel once we Brexit so probably best to stockpile now.

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to bernard michael
30th Apr 2019 19:04

Life goes on Bernard - Brexit or not - people will still have businesses to run, not much will (hopefully) fundamentally change for most

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30th Apr 2019 17:14

No.

Only one client of mine is interested in planning and they do their own.
1 year detailed (ish) and based on current year plus expected changes. 3 year very outline but uses some numbers. 5 year words only - where they see their strategies taking them.

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01st May 2019 03:16

You might sell a few at £200-300 but the level of fees you're taking about are way too much for most businesses to 'take a punt' on.

None of my clients would entertain it I'm pretty sure, even at £200-300.

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12th Jun 2019 09:46

Following my initial research on this with the forum other discussions reveal there is massive interest in this subject and a need for truly comprehensive useful live 5-year business plan.

In fact a recent online study found that businesses that plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t plan. This study found that many businesses can find success without planning, but that businesses who planned regularly grew faster and were more successful than those that didn’t plan.

The connection between planning and fast growth is strong, with another study finding companies with over 92% growth in sales from one year to the next usually have business plans. Not all companies have a 92% growth rate, but the study also found that 71% of fast-growing companies have either strategic plans, growth plans, or operational plans. These companies create budgets, set sales goals, and document their marketing and sales strategies.

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to Simon Davis
12th Jun 2019 11:08

Simon Davis wrote:

Following my initial research on this with the forum other discussions reveal there is massive interest in this subject and a need for truly comprehensive useful live 5-year business plan.

In fact a recent online study found that businesses that plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t plan. This study found that many businesses can find success without planning, but that businesses who planned regularly grew faster and were more successful than those that didn’t plan.

The connection between planning and fast growth is strong, with another study finding companies with over 92% growth in sales from one year to the next usually have business plans. Not all companies have a 92% growth rate, but the study also found that 71% of fast-growing companies have either strategic plans, growth plans, or operational plans. These companies create budgets, set sales goals, and document their marketing and sales strategies.

If you are interested in offering business plans as a value added service to your customers this link is the place to find out more

Well, if an online survey said so it HAS to be true.

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