At the beginning of this course, I created a learning target of having a full understanding of the business planning process, as this is a very important section of the business development process. Although I had seen a business plan in various books, I had limited knowledge on how to proceed with the actual procedure and this increased my enthusiasm and eagerness for the course. I was looking forward to learn a great deal of information on the business planning process, especially on how the business plan can be used to address the strategic goals of the business, and help in the realization of these goals (McKeever 2010).
When classes finally began, I saw the overview of the course and realized that we would not only be learning about the business plan, but would also be covering topics on the macro and micro-economic aspects of the business and how these factors have an overall impact on how management designs the business plan and strategy. In this section, I would also learn about Porter’s five forces model, a concept that had fascinated me for a long time. Other topics include Ohmae’s Strategic 3C and how to beat off competition.
We would also be learning about the marketing planning and forecasting, this would entail detailed information on the process by which a business makes connections with its customers and how it distinguishes itself among competitors. The marketing strategy development would be a step-by-step procedure that would begin from the marketing objectives and entail market positioning, marketing mix and the marketing strategy in context of the goals of the firm. The final stage of this section would focus on sales forecasting and how the firm can benefit from it.
The business planning course would also involve learning about the role of the management team and the organization structure in achieving the business’ goals and objectives. This section would focus on the major personal skills that are required for start-up ventures and the importance of having an efficient initial management team. This section would majorly focus on the managerial issues and how the strength or effectiveness of the management team can help the firm in realizing its long-term objectives.
Difficulties and Challenges
Even though I had a lot of interest in the business planning process, I experienced several challenges during the learning process. This difficulty mainly arose because some of the concepts covered were too complex to be understood in a single reading. They required constant revision, wide reading, and above all, good study skills. Some of the concepts that gave me a hard time included Ohmae’s 3C business model that offers a strategic analysis of the factors necessary for the success of the business.
The idea of cost-effectiveness as it pertains to the corporation gave me a hard time as I could not understand how reducing costs at the expense of the firm’s returns would eventually add value to the firm’s business strategy. To me, reducing prices would reduce the firm’s financial profitability, and in a worst-case scenario, lead to its collapse. However, I later learnt that the cost reduction strategy brought certain advantages to the firms operations such as enhancing its competitive advantage over the competitors, increase in customer numbers, and hence increase the rate of stock turnover. All of these would eventually improve the firm’s financial performance. Analyzing Ohmae’s concept from various angles and from a practical perspective enabled me to comprehend it and other concepts fully.
Another area I had trouble in was the Basic Value Proposition (BVP) and how it can be used as a business strategy, especially in the business planning process. My major area of difficulty under the BVP concept was at its development stage: it was based on a detailed evaluation of the benefits, costs, and value that the firm could deliver to its clientele. Integrating all of the three factors was quite a challenge. However, after adopting one of the models known as the Value Proposition Builder, I proceeded through the six stages according the model and by the end, I understood the concept and even used it in creating my business plan.
Working as a Group
Working as a team also gave me a great deal of experience and I learned that persons with different and often diverging opinions about a common issue can come to an agreement. Every decision was discussed conclusively among all members, and every members’ contribution was assessed to identify its weaknesses or strength, and the final decisions were based on reliable facts and conceptions. The group achieved success due to the willingness of each member to negotiate and share his/her idea with the other members. However, I realized that we would have had improved success had we all read on a topic before discussing it since some members showed a clear lack of comprehension in the discussion table.
Importance of the Exercise
The course was very important as it gave us the basic and advanced skills that can help in the successful creation of a business plan. It also enabled us to improve our group decision-making processes and this will be very useful in future ventures.
McKeever, M. (2010). How to Write a Business Plan. California: Nolo.