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What is the difference between a feasibility study and a business plan?

Navigating the dynamic business world requires a high degree of strategic acumen and meticulous preparation, especially for senior management roles. In this article, we'll delve into two paramount tools that can significantly assist in this journey: business plans and feasibility studies.

Both tools are used extensively by seasoned professionals such as senior finance managers, real estate development managers, asset managers, and procurement managers. Yet, the relationship and differentiation between business plans and feasibility studies often confuse. Through this article, we'll demystify these concepts and reveal how business plan and feasibility study consultants can be crucial in bolstering your strategic decision-making.

Unravelling the relationship

Business plans and feasibility studies are interconnected yet serve different purposes. A business plan outlines your organisation's direction, detailing the approach to achieving set goals, while a feasibility study analyses the viability of a specific business venture before it's initiated.

Consider a corporation contemplating a shift to solar power. They begin with a feasibility study, engaging a consultant to evaluate factors like sunlight availability, installation costs, regulatory environment, and potential impact on their market position. If this study finds that the location isn't sunny enough, costs are too high, or infrastructure is unsuitable, the idea is scrapped, saving the corporation from a costly mistake.

However, if the feasibility study deems the transition viable, the corporation proceeds to the business plan stage. They hire a business plan consultant to outline a detailed strategy, covering aspects such as budgeting, sourcing, installation timelines, risk mitigation, and communication plans.

Dissecting the differences

While both a business plan and a feasibility study are crucial, they're not interchangeable. A feasibility study asks, "Should we do this?" while a business plan asks, "How will we do this?"

To explain better, let's consider a scenario involving a restaurant. If a restaurateur is considering opening a new branch in a different city, they would first conduct a feasibility study. They'd assess the local market demand, competition, demographics, potential locations, costs, and projected revenue. If the study finds that the new branch wouldn't be profitable or sustainable, they would shelve the idea. However, if the feasibility study reveals that the new branch is likely to be successful, they'd proceed to create a business plan. This would detail how they intend to launch and run the new branch, such as the restaurant's concept, target customers, marketing strategies, menu, pricing, staffing, and financial projections.

In essence, the feasibility study is about whether they should open the restaurant, and the business plan is about how they will open and operate it, illustrating the key difference between the two tools.

The rationale behind business plans and feasibility studies

Why should your organisation invest time and resources in these tools? Essentially, they provide clarity and confidence in decision-making. A feasibility study examines the practicability of your idea. It determines if the proposed project is worth the risk and investment. It's akin to a 'litmus test', helping you avoid costly missteps.

On the other hand, a business plan provides a detailed roadmap for your business. It lays out your business's objectives and strategies, management and operational structure, and financial projections. It facilitates internal understanding and commitment and helps attract external investors when well-executed.

The role of consultants

Given the complexity and the high stakes involved, many organisations engage business plan consultants and feasibility study consultants. These experts bring an external perspective, help avoid internal biases, and contribute specialist knowledge and methodologies.

Feasibility study consultants conduct comprehensive market research, cost analyses, and risk assessments. They help determine if your proposed project is both profitable and achievable. On the other hand, business plan consultants assist in crafting compelling business plans that communicate your vision effectively. They analyse your business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and devise strategies that align with your objectives and capabilities.

Final thoughts

For senior management, these tools offer invaluable assistance. A robust feasibility study allows managers to make informed go/no-go decisions. It facilitates risk management and helps align the team around a shared understanding of the project's potential. Business plans, meanwhile, provide a clear vision and direction for the organisation. They assist managers in tracking progress, managing changes, and communicating with stakeholders. They're essential for steering the corporate ship in an often turbulent business sea.

In conclusion, business plans and feasibility studies, assisted by professional consultants, play an instrumental role in shaping and executing your business strategy. They underpin decision-making, mitigate risks, and maximise potential returns. Whether you're evaluating a new project or charting your organisation's path, consider investing in a well-crafted feasibility study and a comprehensive business plan - the rewards can be immense.

Related Services: Feasibility Study, Business Plan, Strategic Advisory