While it’s true that some of the largest transportation companies started from very humble beginnings, the one thing that virtually all successful companies share is a well-thought-out, strategic business plan. Often, writing a business plan can be perceived as a tedious and time-consuming task, only finished when the bank manager insists on it; however, it is an exciting opportunity to establish a clear vision and direction for the future of your new business venture or strengthen the foundation of your existing transportation operation.
plan the plan
A good business plan should be written with a purpose in mind. Is it simply a roadmap for internal use or will it be used to seek funding from a financial institution or other external investor? While a well-researched plan can diversify and adapt to different purposes, the focus can change depending on its intended use.
Covering the basics
Whether you’re planning a large business or an owner-driver operation, taking on a limited number of trucking jobs, the basics of a business plan will cover the same thing: structure, strategies, and finances. Before you begin, make sure you have as much information on hand as possible, to ensure transparency and allow you to accurately analyze and forecast.
While the summary comes first in a business plan, it’s best to write it last. It should be a clear and concise overview of your business – an “at-a-glance” statement of who you are and what you do. Simple: if you do the hard work first!
The operations plan includes the details of the structure of your business; his facilities (even if he’s an owner-driver and his truck is his mobile office); number and functions of staff members; a review of your services in particular, what kind of transportation work you do (do you specialize or diversify?); and any licences, credentials or registrations that you hold or are required to hold. The latter should also include memberships in any relevant industry bodies.
The marketing plan should include details of both your customers (potential and existing, if any) and your competitors. Ideally, it should also include a brief analysis of your sector of the transportation and logistics industry. Document any successful marketing strategies you have undertaken in the past and your key strategies for achieving future marketing goals.
This section includes your vision for the overall future of your operations, your growth strategy to increase the number of transportation jobs you can do and keep, and all of your key business objectives. This section can be in the form of a vision or mission statement, or be documented in a more formal way.
The ability to analyze finances and forecast future projections comes down to accurate documentation in your business plan, from the costs of facilities and vehicle maintenance, to the volume of transportation jobs, to wages, to cash flow. and lists of creditors and debtors. If you are just starting out, it is very important to note that the financial figures you are including are forecasts only.
Any information you include in your business plan, including registrations, memberships, finances, and operating procedures, should include copies of the documentation as verification of authenticity.
The Best Ugly Plans…
The most successful business plan is a constantly evolving organic document. The plan, like the rules, is made to be broken, and you should never be afraid to adapt your plan to changing circumstances. In fact, updating your business plan regularly is vital to keeping it relevant. The act of writing a business plan for a new business from scratch, or dissecting an existing one, holds you accountable and gives you the opportunity for review, clarity, and deeper insight into your market.