Planning for growth and success

Labrina Tsekouras, Senior Business Development Mgr, Westpac

This article appears in the July/August 2013 issue of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand

Planning to grow your business? Then give yourself a greater chance of success by developing a robust plan rather than just ‘winging’ it.

The Importance of Planning

Planning is important because it helps you work smarter rather than harder. It keeps you future-oriented and motivates you to achieve the results you want. Moreover, the process of completing a business plan enables you to determine what  commitment you are prepared to make to the business.

Planning significantly increases your chances for survival and prosperity by focusing your attention on areas in which small business operators sometimes get lost. It is easy to become excessively optimistic about a new idea. Planning helps to prevent  you from viewing the future in ways that the facts do not support.

Planning enables you to recognise problems that call for outside sources of information and assistance. The nature of markets and consumer needs change rapidly. Planning cannot predict change, but it helps you to recognise it and to construct your business strategy accordingly.

Small businesses tend to grow either too fast for their capital base, or too slow to maintain profitability and an adequate return on investment. Planning helps you to achieve smooth growth and to avoid unexpected crises.

A business plan enables you to monitor your results against a set of goals and performance standards. When someone puts money into your business, they want to know what to expect. A business plan not only enables you to plan your capital needs in advance, but also provides the information that financiers need to evaluate your application for further finance.

A business plan is not a guarantee of success, but it does increase your chances of survival. It’s like a road map - a good plan will outline where you want to go and how you want to get there. It may only be a few pages in length, but you should  review it often. It needs to be flexible enough to meet new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.

Preparing a business plan will help you think through all the aspects of running your business and to examine the consequences of different strategies you might want to take. For help in preparing a plan and to get a useful template, see the Westpac  Online website at

SWOT Analysis

Undertaking a SWOT analysis is a useful part of any planning. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimise weaknesses, take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities and reduce the threats. You can carry out a personal analysis to assess whether you are right for a particular business opportunity, or you can use the SWOT analysis on the business itself or a particular growth opportunity, or even on your competitors. To carry out a personal SWOT analysis, answer the following questions.



  • What advantages do you have?
  • What do you do well?
  • What relevant resources do you have access to?
  • What do people see as your strengths?


Think about your strengths in relation to your competitors. If all your competitors provide high quality products, then a high quality production process is not a strength in the market, it is a necessity.



  • What could you improve?
  • What do you do badly?
  • What should you avoid?


Consider your weaknesses from an internal and external basis. Do other people perceive weaknesses that you do not see? Are your competitors doing any better than you? Be realistic and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.



  • Where are there good opportunities facing you?
  • What are the interesting trends you are aware of?


Useful opportunities can come from such things as; changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scale; changes in government policy related to your field; changes in social patterns, population profiles or lifestyle changes.

Look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities.

Look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them.



  • What obstacles do you face?
  • What is your competition doing?
  • Is changing technology threatening your position?
  • Are the required specifications for your job, products or services changing?
  • Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
  • Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?


The keys to an effective SWOT analysis is to be thorough and honest, and to act on your findings by talking to your financial advisor or accountant.

Planning for growth

With growth comes scale, more profit and greater returns on your investment, right? But it doesn’t always seem to work out that way.

Planning can assist you understand the potential pitfalls and benefits as you achieve your desired growth.

Business plans don’t have to be long and complicated. When planning for growth you can start by answering the following simple questions:

1. What do I want my business to look like after it has grown?
2. How will I achieve that growth?
3. How will I protect my business after I have achieved that growth?

1. What do I want my business to look like after it has grown?

Know what you want to achieve. Have a clear vision of what your business will look like after growth. Consider what you mean by ‘growth’.


  • Is this an increase in profit, cash flow, margins and flexibility?
  • Or an increase in retail outlets?
  • Or do you want to trade overseas or increase a service for a local market? Key tip: work out what you want, and you will have a better chance of making it a reality.


2. How will I achieve that growth?

Successful growth doesn’t happen by itself. It’s important to understand how the future vision of the business impacts current operations. For example:


  • What processes need to change in order to make that goal a reality?
  • Will it require new equipment or more space?
  • What will it cost, and where will the funding come from?
  • Do you require more people?
  • Is additional or specialised training required?


Key tip: identify the key points about your business that need to change, then work out how you will manage that change.

3. How will I protect my business after growth?

Unless managed well, growth could potentially hurt a business. Growth generally means more equipment, people, customers and more competition. Growth in each of these areas has its potential downside, including a possible strain on your cash flow.

Key tip: understand the potential downsides of growth so that you can be better placed to overcome them.

In summary, it is important to remember that growth and success in your business can be managed better when a robust business plan is developed. Furthermore a detailed SWOT analysis is a useful tool that can be used to assist you to focus on your internal and external business environment during planning.

More information on Business Planning and Growing your Business is available from Westpac’s Davidson Institute. The Davidson Institute provides financial education on a wide range of topics in both face-to-face short courses, and online at Labrina Tsekouras is the Westpac Senior Business Development Manager for Victoria and Tasmania and specialises in the franchise sector.

Westpac continues their long-term commitment to franchising in Australia. The bank has a national network of franchise specialist business bankers who are able to deal with the specific needs of the franchise sector.

Contact Labrina at:

Phone: 0418 246 903