A well-thought out business plan is crucial for responding to any significant change for businesses created by the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, writes Colm Mac Fhionnlaoich, Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland
Every successful business is driven by a solid operational business plan. With challenges arising for Irish exporters to the UK - some foreseeable, others imponderable - it is crucial for relevant companies to reconsider the development of all aspects of the business.
Having a clear business plan is the first step for any company faced with a significant change in circumstance. Undertaking this will help your company identify any new barriers for your business and any new opportunities that may arise.
When reviewing your business plan, you will need to assess the competitive strength of the company, and your resources and capabilities in relation to your target market(s).
A business plan is an iterative, live document and should be reviewed regularly, especially if you are in a position where you are diversifying into a new market.
Firstly, you need to do a strategic analysis of your business.
Consider, your product / service by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Ask yourself what problem does your offering solve? Provide a clear, concise explanation of your Unique Selling Point and do a SWOT analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business, the opportunities in your target market, and the threats to the viability of the project. State clearly your short-term and long-term objectives.
The next step is to look at your team. You will need to outline details of your management team, and realistically assess their ability to deliver on your plan. List any strategic advisors relevant to your company’s plans. Consider whether you have the resources to deal with the new circumstances?
Enterprise Ireland is intensifying its work with clients exporting to the UK by providing support to improve their competitiveness in the market through its management capability and development programmes.
The Market is the next segment in your business plan. Extensive market research is a must when assessing a new or changed market.
Do a deep dive on your target customers and channels to market. Consider trialing your product / service to potential customers if this is your first venture into the market. Once you have done an analysis of the target market consider whether you need to make any changes to your offering to deliver a solution to your these customers.
Now more than ever, Enterprise Ireland is focused on supporting clients to diversify into new markets; and our overseas teams will provide increased internationalisation supports to assist you in evaluating new market opportunities.
Once you’ve done your research and have validated that your product / service is in demand in your target market you will need to look at your Sales & Marketing strategy.
There are three key components in the Sales & Marketing mix that you need to consider here.
· Operating in a new market – do you have boots on the ground there or at least a local partner to deal with customers, translations, etc?
· Spend time honing your Customer Value Proposition. Understanding feedback from your customers on the benefits of your product / service and analysing your competitors thoroughly will help you do this.
· Is there a pipeline-driven, repeatable sales process in place? A focus on lead generation and an action orientated plan for each market is key in this process
Research & Development
Your business plan will need to address Research & Development. Innovation is essential for your business to be competitive. Do you have the structure and processes in place to ensure your products / services are competitive in export markets? Look at opportunities for ongoing development of tailored products to meet local market or segment specific needs.
Your business plan will not stack up without a close analysis of Financial Projections. Ask yourself, does your company have clear processes in place to ensure your offering is delivered efficiently to maximise profit? Can your company produce accurate and timely financial data? Can your team interpret and analyse the financial performance of the company? Does your company have the ability to fund its growth internally or can it access the required additional funding from external sources?
In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to understand where you might adjust your business plan to account for any changes to your UK market and whether diversification into another market is a suitable strategic response moving forward.
A Business Plan template is available on www.enterprise-ireland.com