Every business needs to have an idea of where it's headed and it's purpose. For that reason, you need a Business Plan.
It doesn't have to be a long, detailed business plan, unless you're planning to seek funding from a financial institution. Your business plan can be as short or as long as you like and in whatever format you prefer that will capture the essence of your business and what you plan to achieve.
Businesses that actually write down their plan with specific goals, objectives, strategies and tasks are more likely to achieve their goal and be successful.
"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail"
You need to know the why, what, when, where, who and how for your business. While this might seem daunting when you're just starting out your document is dynamic and will grow and evolve and your business grows.
Don't write it, stick it on a shelf and never refer to it again. It will help you to plan and schedule to create a successful business.
Review it monthly. How are you doing in working towards your goals, what changes from month to month, year to year?
Use the following basic elements to build a business plan in one day.
1. Your Vision, Purpose, Mission.
Vision - an overall statement of what is possible for your business.
Purpose - What is the purpose of your business and why does it exist?
Mission - How do you plan to achieve your vision and purpose?
2. Your objectives.
Include biographical data about yourself, your business objectives and how you will succeed. Your goals for the business and different ways you will create income.
3. Your Customers.
- Who is your target market?
- Where are they?
- How many of them are there?
- How many do you need for your business?
- What do you know about them?
- How do they perceive your services?
- What is the growth rate of this market?
4. Your Barriers.
Are there any current legal, ethical issues?
How will the current economic climate affect you?
5. Your Competition.
- Who are your competitors?
- How does your business compare to your competitors?
- On what basis are you competing?
- How do you differ from your competitors?
- How will your customers see the difference?
6. Your Prospective Clients
- How will you market yourself?
- How will you deliver your service?
- How will you differentiate yourself in the market?
- Do you have a brand?
- What makes you unique?
7. Your success
- Why will you be successful in your business?
- What skills, experience and attitude do you have to enable you to succeed?
8. Tools and Technology
What tools and technology will you use to make your business successful?
- Web site
- Service delivery
- Telephone services
9. Financial projection
How will the financial flow of your business take place. What revenue do you need in order to cover your expenses and achieve a profitable margin.
- Capital - how much do you have to invest to start your business.
- Survival income - how long can you survive without income?
- Start-up cost - what do you need? (if needed).
- What are your monthly business expenses?
- What other income do you have?
10. Long-term view.
What will your business look like in three-five years time? How will you respond to changes in the market, trends etc?
What other products or services might impact you?
How will your financial forecast change - improve or reduce?
How is your business structured to allow you to adapt and change?
Extract the key information from each section and create an Executive Summary at the beginning of the document.
Gather any information you need to create one page maximum on each of the essential elements. Note down your ideas and gather any additional information you need to complete each section. Is there anything missing?
The One Page Business Plan!
OK - so that's too much? For a one page strategic plan take a large sheet of paper and divide it into three columns as follows:
1. WHERE AM I? (A)
2. How I'm going to get there.
3. WHERE I WANT TO BE! (B)
Now fill in the gaps! Where is your business at the moment? Where do you want it to be in 2-3 years time? Now break that down into where you want to be in one year, six months, one month, one week. Plan your actions month by month and take steps each week to get you from A to B.
Copyright 2005: Clare Evans
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Clare Evans works with busy, stressed individuals and small business owners to help them plan and organise their time more effectively. Contact her today for more details and a free consultation. www.clareevans.co.uk
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