Business Plan Templates-Techniques –New Workshop

As we kick of the  new year, I would like to suggest  you create a business plan that adds value to your business and helps you and your staff accelerate the success of your business.

Do I need a business plan? This is a common question I get asked.  Hell yes, but make sure it’s one that adds value to your business.

Do you have a good template? Yes, I have several depending on your needs.

Business Planning is one of those tasks, that for most business owners it falls into the category of: “I know I should have one” or  “waiting for things to get quiet” .

A business plan done correctly will add value to the business on a daily basis, rather than be a chore best left for MBA students.

Building on the successful formula from my “Power Pitching” and “Essential Guide to Capital” workshops, I have decided to introduce a number of new workshop titles to the GMC portfolio. Having observed numerous businesses around the country and reviewed thousands of business plans I have spent the first week of this year collating my thoughts on the topic and have created a new workshop to attack this very topic.

Can you be assured that you and all your staff are focused on and doing stuff that meets the following list?

  1. Adds value to customers
  2. Makes money
  3. Fits a clear and productive business model
  4. Is fun and in line with a designed performance culture
  5. Fits your master plan

The workshop will introduce you to some visual tools to document your plan in diagrams rather than just long borig text that no one reads. You will also get a chance to use the BisVision card system for business planning.  The aim of the workshop is to give you the tools and techniquesto develop a developing a business plan that will inspire and motivate you and your staff.

So come along to one of my business planning workshops:

  • Feb 24th –Generator, Britomart Auckland
  • March 15 – Waitakere Enterprise, Auckland
  • March 28th – Experience, Wellington
  • March 29th – Vision Manawatu, Palmerston North

Space at these workshops will be limited to 12 companies to maximise learning. For Registration and an up to date calendar go to and click Register button.

Here is a link to a flyer, to pass onto your friends so they can join you.

PS:  For those who can not wait … here is a simple template to get you started.

PSS: We have now opened bookings for these workshops here>


Wise Man – Fairfax Agony Aunt Column – Reprint 1

I write a regular column “agony aunt” column for Fairfax business media that appears in the business section of a number of their papers around the country.
In response to numerous requests, here is the first of a series of blog posts with back issue Q&A’s that have appeared in the “Two Wise Men” column.


 Q:  I want to go into business with a close friend of mine but other people tell me this could be a recipe for disaster.

What are the pitfalls and what can I do to overcome them?

Many commentators say working with Friends and family are a recipe for disaster I have seen both great successes and failures using friends and family.  My tips:

  • Try before you buy: Make sure you can spend a decent amount of time planning the venture, this way you will get to see how they operate as a colleague rather than a friend. Plan a early review point so you both have an option of bailing out before it’s too late. Some people make great friends but are not great employees or business partners.
  • Get clarity: Define your roles clearly and separate out your roles as employee, director and shareholder. Be clear on expectations and commitment. Set up regular review points.
  • Only one boss: As hard as it is –  one of you need to be CEO. Write up a short form job descriptions for both of you.
  • Prepare for the worst: Spend the time and money and establish a shareholders agreement (SHAG). In particular include in the SHAG how you will handle the situation when one of you wants to leave the business and how you will value the share holding if one person wants to buy out the other. Or worst how you will handle the ex-wife from hell as a shareholder when a marriage ends.
  • Appoint referee’s before you need them: Establish an advisory group as soon as possible. This will enable you to manage any issues along the way.
  • This is a marathon: If they are not going to be shareholders, do not abuse the relationship. Make sure the partners and family are on board – instant success is going to be about 5+ years away – check every one is on board for the complete ride.

Q: I made a business plan when I started up my business but I would like to know how often I should update it and whether I have covered off everything I should have in it?

There are different reasons and types of business plans; each have there use and life span.

1) Full Business Plan: – Justify strategic change or major investment.

This full Monty business plan should only be undertaken at key milestones during the life of your company, for example before you commence the business (i.e give up your day job), or before you seek significant investment from any party or undertake any major risk – liability.

These 60 – 100+ page beasts only have the life span of one major decision, beyond that they are too cumbersome for most SME’s. They present the danger of holding the business ransom to a plan that is no longer appropriate or accurate. They form great reference documents but have down sides.

2) Plan for Execution and Leadership – daily use, reviewed monthly, challenged six monthly.

I am a fan of short business plans max 10 pages, always summarised in a single page diagram or short bullet list (5 points max). These plans can easily be communicated and acted on, allowing the complete team to gain clarity about the task at hand and what they can do to achieve a common goal. 

Execution business plans should be referenced frequently and challenged 6 monthly for a growing company. The great thing about a ten page plan is people are OK about tossing it out. Allocate at least half a day for your key staff to review the plan every six months, preferably with someone from outside the business to bring new ideas and challenge.

I generally use a variant of the Balanced Score Card model making sure the business in focused on the four core areas: Finance, Customers, Process and Staff. The less objectives the higher chance you will achieve them. Be warned if you have more than 10 strategic initiatives you will never achieve any of them.  When you review your business plan also review your customer value proposition or pitch, making sure that your business is focused on something that adds value to your clients.

You should review progress against your business plan formerly on a monthly basis. If you are focused on activities outside the business plan then either change the plan or change your behaviour. Good business plans are simple and help speed up daily decisions for all of your staff.  I am also a fan of customer focused mantra’s eg “ We make the car go faster”.

Want more on business plans – attend a GMC Business Plan Workshop 

Going Into the Cloud: Corporate IT on Startup budget

Having lived in technology corporates you get spoilt with IT systems that just work. It frustrates me when I see business owners not leveraging what technology can do for them.

A home-office break in got me thinking, what if some bastard stole my server, or there was a water leak while I was away, trashing my data and backup. Insurance will not cover that sort of loss.

So over the summer break I have made the technology leap into the cloud. This will give me incresed productivity for my frequent work in Koru lounges and cafés around the country.

For you non IT people, the cloud just means it’s hosted on the internet.  Cloud solutions have the advantage of giving you easy access, from anywhere and it is not reliant on any infrastructure at your office other than a Broadband connection.

So my new set up is:

New Web Services:

  • Mail 25G mailbox:  Microsoft Exchange ONLINE  $100 per year per user
  • 50 GB Online Disk Storage:  Dropbox  $133 per year
  • iMExchange:  Notes and out off office Application for I-phone worth the US$8

Existing web services:

My Hardware Platforms:

  • I-phone
  • Apple Air Mac – Laptop
  • Windows Desktop PC’s:  Vista and XP

Email – Calendar – Notes – System

For me Microsoft Exchange still is the best office communication management system, yes I have tried google apps but several things have pushed me towards online exchange.

Exchange offers: integrated email, contacts, calendar and notes across platforms (iphone, mac, PC) client and web access. Set up correctly it offers team calendar sharing, complete replication on multiple platforms and more. At $100 per user per year for a 25G mailbox it’s not worth mucking around with any imitation of it.

If I trash another i-phone I want my contacts, notes, calendar and mail going in minutes when I get my replacement phone.

Several things have changed which make this a wise decision:

  • Voyager (a  NZ Microsoft reseller) – offer a fantastic value for money package at $100 per year per user. They give you the first 30 days free on trial. Yes Seeby Woodhouse is back in action – ignore the old fashion web site – this company understands customer service and value for money.
  • I have received excellent customer support from voyager and Microsoft USA.
  • The only catch was there is a minimum 5 mail box purchase – good news is you can mix domains I have my family on and my business on sharing the same admin system.

 Drop Box:

This is a cool way to share files between PC’s.  Best of all its cross platform (PC’s, Macs, i-phones, ipads). I can edit a document on the plane on my mac air, then tomorrow it will be on my desktop ready to finnish. You get a 2G file storage for free – so try it out.


I cannot finish this post without a plug for Xero. The GST change and a forced upgrade cost by MYOB, gave me reason to reconsider XERO. YES MYOB has more functionality and better reporting, but you need to have an eye for detail and an ability to think like an accountant to maximise its use. Xero has given me back at least half a day a month, in saved reconcilation time. I now prefer to check my bank balance online with Xero rather than go through my banks antiquated and non user friendly login systems.

PS: I love my 11” Mac Book Air – If you are a road warrior do not get an I-pad. With Microsoft Office 2011 for MAC it now has remote desktop support, make sure you download the service pack upgrade. No apple user told me of the week of grief as I bumbled my way around the apple OS, but all is now forgiven.