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Think goals. Think strategy. Think tactics.

For your business to thrive and grow, rather than just remaining steady, you need a business development plan. This will help you clearly see your goals and how to achieve them. It will also protect against challenges like new competitors, developments in technology, strains on labour markets or changes in your sector.

The good news is that your plan needn't be complicated. So long as it includes realistic goals that will have a positive impact on your business, you're on the right track.

What to ask when writing a business development plan 

Who are you?

This is an evaluation of your company. What does your business do? How do you differ from competitors? Where do you rank yourself compared to business rivals? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What resources do you have?

Who is your customer?

This is about identifying your current and future markets. Customers drive your business. Talk to them. Understand why they come to you. Find out what their needs are, and how they are not being met. Conduct focus groups and customer surveys to see how you are viewed from the outside in.

What’s happening in your industry?

This is about identifying movement in the marketplace. Look beyond your own business to what is happening sector-wide. Can you predict any trends? Can you forecast any challenges or more developments that will work in your favour? If you can, try to figure out what direction your competitors are moving in.

What are your business objectives?

These can be both short and long term. What skills and knowledge will you and your employees need to attain these goals? Look in the direction you want to go. If you have significant growth ambitions how will the employees you have support this aim? How can you prepare them for the challenges ahead? You don’t necessarily have to hire new people. Look at your current workforce.

Who are your employees?

This is about staff development. What skills do they have? What knowledge will they need to help you attain your objectives? What ambitions do they have for their own careers? How can you match your goals to their own? What training can you give them? You can’t develop one without the other. Let them know how their career will progress along with the business.

Who can you partner up with?

You don’t need to operate in isolation. Strategic relationships can benefit both parties. How can you work together? And don’t forget the help we can offer in identifying the skills you have in your team and how you can grow them.

More development plan advice

Create development plans for employees

These handy tools can help you figure out what your skills base is, including creating job specifications that will help you fill any gaps. Let your team match your business objectives.

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Skills for Growth

This free service does what it says on the tin, combining consultancy from Investors in People with support from our Employer Engagement Advisers. Grow through skills.

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