There are a lot of great reasons to have a business plan: To get financing, to attract investors or to help recruit top talent to your business. One of the best reasons though, that is often over looked by small business people, is to create a road map for success. If you don’t have a business plan now, it’s time to get working on it!
1. Vision Statement. What problem does your company exist to solve? What does your company hope to achieve? What do you want to do for your customers? What will success look like if you accomplish those things? Where are you going with this business? Answering these questions will help determine what your vision statement should be. Look down the road 5 to 10 years, and remember to dream big! Write it in the present tense – what do you do, not what will you do. Use big adverbs and adjectives to give it emotion and paint a clear picture of the business you want.
2. Mission Statement. Mission is about ‘doing’, so what are the practical day to day things you will do that will deliver on your vision statement? Why does your business exist and how will you get to where you’re trying to go? What does your target customer look like and how will you identify them? What do you want the public’s perception of your business to be and how will you create your reputation? In this process you want to define your business and identify your unique selling proposition. This can be just for you, but it will help bring clarity to your business and help you determine if your activities line up with what you are trying to accomplish.
3. Objectives. Objectives bring further clarity and detail to your business by determining what you want your outcomes to be. Once stated, it makes a perfect compass to keep you headed in the right direction. Your objectives should be very specific. For example, pick a revenue target and choose the date you want to achieve it by. Have a clear understanding of exactly what you need to do to get there and for whom are you going to do it. You can have several objectives, just make sure they are all in alignment with your vision and mission.
4. Strategies. Strategies are the general activities you will do to meet your objectives. Make sure they are written out. They can be broad in scope as they are the bridge that connects your objectives with the actual actions you will take. Examples might be monthly or quarterly reviews, measuring certain metrics against stated objectives, developing a raving fan base, or designing and mastering your quality control process.
5. Action Plans. Tie a specific activity that falls under your strategy that lines up with your objectives. See how it all flows together?! Actions can be creating a new product, or a new marketing plan. Maybe it’s investing in new equipment or developing new systems. Plan it out for the year and have a deadline that it has to be completed by. If it’s something that gets repeated, make sure it gets back on the action plan for the next time around.
6. Sustainability. Ask yourself a very important question: Can I actually do everything in this plan? Then ask yourself if you can do it over and over again. If you have things in your plan that will not deliver the results you want, or you even dislike doing so much they won’t get done – then go back and change it! Sustainability in this case means your ability to reproduce the actions and therefore the results that you desire. If there is anything in this plan that is not sustainable then get it out, or even better, find a way to make it work that lines up with the other 5 components. I refer to the importance of quality and repeat-ability in my blog titled “2 Things To Help Ensure Your Business Lasts”.
Business plans can seem very daunting, and really, if you need to submit something to your bank to get financing, you will need a lot more detail. This plan is designed for you and your team, and it shouldn’t be more than 3 or 4 pages. Keep it concise and specific. Use it as both a compass and a road-map to keep you headed towards success.
Would you find a plan like this helpful in your business? As I always, I welcome your feedback. Happy planning!
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