Are you heading in the right direction?

A startling number of print businesses and in-house print centres embark on strategy changes or business development without consulting their business plan. This can be a costly mistake. While it may be time-consuming, time spent planning is always well spent because it forces you to step back and look at your business from an objective point of view. In the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive print industry, effective and continual planning is more important than ever.

A business plan is a vital tool when you’re making decisions, helping you to determine if what you hope to achieve is feasible, realistic and sustainable. In addition, a credible business plan, regularly reviewed and fine-tuned, will help you identify the equipment and resources you need, and raise finance if required.

Every business plan is different because every print business and in-house print facility is different. Similarly, the structure of a business plan will vary according to what you need it for. There are however a number of steps that every organisation will need to take in building a solid business plan:

1. Work out where you are
Before you can set an objective for your business or print centre, understanding the trends in your market and identifying challenges is key. When looking for insight, many commercial printers and in-house PSPs find Canon to be a powerful ally. Our customers draw on our experience of working with a global customer base, as well as having access to our in-depth research into trends in the professional print market and to views held by print buyers. Independent Essential Business Builder Program consultants and mentors add further to this with their market knowledge and real work experience.

2. Decide where you want to go
One of the ways Canon helps customers benefit from this insight is the Business and Innovation Scan. This business assessment tool has been developed by Canon to help both commercial and in-house PSPs review their business strategies and adapt them to the changing market. It assesses the capabilities of the print operation and helps identify opportunities that they may not realise exist. The end result is a report that proposes an appropriate strategic direction and action plan for each segment in which the PSP operates.

3. Plan how you’re going to get there
There are eight key areas to consider when developing a business plan:
A. Executive summary
B. Historic review
C. SWOT analysis
D. Financials
E. Sales and marketing
F. Staff
G. Equipment
H. Property

Building your business plan shouldn’t be done by one person in isolation. It is equally important to seek input from staff, customers and professional advisors, as well as assessing competitors.

Canon has a useful guide to business planning as part of its Essential Business Builder Program. Contact us to find out how to obtain a copy of the guide.

4. Find the right partner for your journey
In addition to the suite of tools, guides, knowledge and insight that Canon is able to offer its customers, Canon’s customers also have access to the Essential Business Builder Program, with education workshops and business mentoring delivered by independent industry experts.

5. Stay on course
No matter how busy you are, it is important to keep reflecting on market conditions and on how your business or print centre is doing so that you can adapt your business plan accordingly. The most successful businesses are those that stay in touch with what their customer base wants, so try to make getting customer feedback and looking for new opportunities in this part of your daily business.