Writing That Business Plan

A new year is a great time for a revamped and refreshed plan for your business.  While every business owner wants to be thorough and organized with their business planning, it is far too easy to let the every day hustle and bustle take us away from these tasks.  

Although it can seem daunting, a good plan is simply putting in writing things you likely already know.  Lenders, vendors and clients cannot read your mind, and you can pull pieces and parts from a business plan to make these relationships more effective.  

The goal here is to be short, yet complete.  Here are some things to include:

Think Long Term

What is the purpose of the business? Why was it started and how has that evolved?  Give people a short paragraph about where you come from and why your business exists?  Now that you've got that finish it off with where are you going? 

Lay out a vision for the next 10 years.  What do you think the growth potential is? What are the competitive advantages you are going to utilize to secure your place in the market? What makes you excited about the future?

Also, Think Short Term

Now that the long term, but often vague, vision is laid out, provide a few details on how exactly these goals will be achieved.  You may say to yourself, "well, I don't know exactly how it's going to happen."  Having a plan, even if it changes, is infinitely better than no plan at all.  Start by making notes in these categories:

     - Market Strategy - how will you find and attract customers?

     - Your Team - who will you need to help you be successful?

     - Risk Management - what could get in your way and how are you managing those risks?

     - Financial Plans - will this plan make money?  How will that look?

With the last point, include financial projections - including budgeted expenses and revenue goals. Try several scenarios as it can give you a better idea how things might look if Plan A doesn't pan out.  

Make It Your Own

Be sure that your passion for your business can be felt through what you write.  Don't write what you think someone wants to read - write how you actually feel.

Give the plan a sense of your company culture.  That could include the look of the plan, the amount of detail, the values and visions that you choose to emphasize.  Whatever it is that makes you stand apart from the competition, don't gloss over it - that's what makes your business great!

With 2018 right around the corner, take an afternoon between now and the end of the year to devote to planning, refining and expanding your plans for your business. Writing it down doesn't make it a done deal, but it does bring your thoughts into focus and give you good material to use for the coming months as you start campaigns, implement plans, and create opportunities. 

Happy Planning!

- Liz

Liz WhittenComment