The practice of business planning has been around for thousands of years. The New International Version of the Bible says "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." Many factors must be considered as you plan. Answering questions regarding who, what, when, where, why and how enable you to hit upon the factors that will come into play in business planning.
In business planning, it is important to consider how well your organization aligns with your values. Notice the Volvo car division value statement on safety, which reads "Safety First. Always." In business planning, Volvo executives should evaluate factors that confirm alignment with their value statement or indicate a need to adjust their operations. Aligning your business with your values is crucial in business planning because it shapes and defines your culture.
According to Inc. magazine, the goals you hope to accomplish in the near term and in the long term are essential factors to consider in business planning. "Big, hairy audacious goals" are dynamic and motivational, and increase your odds of success. If your goals fail to engage your team, your company risks missing its targets.
You also should consider where your company stands in relation to the competition when planning your business. Consider performing a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to profile your competitors, and do the same for your company. These profiles can highlight gaps in the market and new opportunities for your organization.
Regardless of your business, market or industry, availability of the right mix of resources is key to your success. In your business planning, consider whether your organization has the right combination of human talent, technology, capacity and financial resources to achieve your goals. This evaluation is done most efficiently and effectively by engaging the top performers throughout the organization in your business planning process and leveraging insights from the strengths and weaknesses sections of the SWOT analysis.
Consider the markets your company operates within and current trends in those markets. Are the markets new, growing, maturing or declining? If you continue to operate in your current markets, consider what things may need to change to raise your performance against your top competitors and how technology developments or non-traditional sources of competition are working in your favor or against you.
Gavin Berkey started freelancing in 2010. Berkey writes for eHow and Answerbag on business and human performance management topics. He is certified as a project management professional and received his Bachelor of Business Administration in management and entrepreneurship from Western Michigan University.