Once the marketing plan has been developed and the product (service) mix defined, successful executive teams develop a financial plan to determine whether their offerings are economically feasible. Such financial considerations as sources of funding, cash availability, and marketing investment need to be evaluated.
Again, no department or manager can operate in a vacuum during this planning process; it is highly likely that staff in the marketing, finance and operations areas will collaborate on the development of plans for their respective areas, as well as on all aspects of an overall business plan. When a new project, product, or service is contemplated, the finance and accounting staff, in conjunction with the business owner(s), head of marketing, and head of operations should evaluate the company’s ability to:
- get the initiative off the ground,
- fund it during development and launch, and
- continue to support it through sales process and beyond.
Successful businesses are always careful to perform all necessary analysis of these three aspects of innovation. They never assume the financial capability to launch a new idea guarantees success; rather, it is understood that the ability to begin a project is of no value if momentum cannot be sustained through the point of post-sale customer service and satisfaction. The cash required to pay overhead and ongoing obligations when no revenues are coming in from the new initiative can put a company into bankruptcy if not anticipated beforehand.
Securing capital sources is another step in sound business financial planning. The timing and amounts of cash infusions are critical considerations within the overall plan. Sometimes, the lure of a large project or contract can cloud judgment. Without adequate preparation for the cash impact of “ramping up” for new scopes of work, sales volume can become a curse. In fact, some businesses become specific in their growth goals so as to not outstrip precious capital reserve allocation guidelines. (This is not to say, however, that financial instruments such as contract financing are not a way to “have one’s cake and eat it too.”)
Making sure that the business has the wherewithal to “scale” to fit customer demand is important. There will invariably be times when the requirements to pay down payables balances will be instituted by lenders or investors. Likewise, receivables balances cannot become too large too quickly without causing alarm as to the liquidity of the business to meet obligations. Creating a working capital account that is adequately funded to weather fluctuations in business volume–in either direction–is wisdom. How one goes about pre-funding it is “science!”
Businesses that plan for their monetary requirements at every stage of innovation will consistently make more money than those that “fly by the seat of their pants.” Developing financial plans that support marketing and operational plans is essential for profit maximization. The results of this planning are recommendations to either scrap, revise, or move forward speedily with exciting projects that can lead to increased brand awareness, market share, revenues, and profitability. However, one would do well to remember that no going concern has ever gone broke because its executive team did not start a new project.
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