Some Enterprise Development practitioners in South Africa have criticised the idea of using a business plan. Mostly the reason for this is that a business plan is developed at the start of a business and then left and never again looked at. It cannot be denied that any small business that wants to be successful has to plan. The criticism regarding business plans however is that a business plan takes long to develop and that as you start execution of the plan the plan needs to change, and sometimes significantly so. As an Enterprise Development practitioner I would argue that business planning is of significant importance to small businesses, but that visual management can have an significant impact on the way in which we execute business planning.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article (Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything, 2013) Steve Blank has advocated the use of Lean methodologies for start-up companies. This has had an incredibly successful impact on various start-up companies around the world.
Visual Management for Start-up companies
One of the best lean tools is that of visual management. By implementing visual management practices in various large corporate companies we have seen an almost immediate effect on the engagement levels of the staff.
The Lean-Start-Up movement has now shown that visual managmeent can also be used in small businesses. The below video is one of the best examples of how visual management can be applied to a start-up company. It indicates how visual management is used in the business planning process in order to reduce the waste from writing long ineffective business plans and decrease risk. It also provides any small business with a guiding framework by which to manage their start-up business. Entrepreneurs need to be constantly engaged in the learning cycle in order to develop their companies.
When using the below planning framework as a tool for Enterprise Development there is a significant amount of learning that is applied. Not only do entrepreneurs understand the need to do market segmentation, but they also immediately see some of the gaps in their current marketing efforts.
The below video is an excellent illustration of how this planning process can be used for micro to small businesses: