Here are 10 great ideas for getting started with your business plan.
- Create a Vision: Before you get lost in the details, outline a clear vision and a coherent set of values for your company. Develop a mission statement, and use it to define short-term goals and priorities.
- Know That a Budget Isn't the Same Thing as a Plan: If you don't have a clear picture of your industry, customers, competitors, and market conditions before you develop a budget, your numbers aren't likely to reflect reality.
- Don't Ignore Your Customers: Take time to learn about your customers and build your business plan around their needs and desires.
- Don't Underestimate Competitors: Pay attention to the competition and you won't be unpleasantly surprised. Also, your competitors can be a great source of information about what works and what doesn't.
- Be Prepared to Take Risks: a good business plan anticipates possible challenges, as well as possible good and bad scenarios. It should also include a variety of strategies for meeting challenges and taking advantage of opportunities.
- Get a Second (and Third) Opinion: Even if you're the only person involved in your business, find someone who can study your plan objectively and point out possible weaknesses, such as issues you might have missed, as well as highlight areas of strength.
- Expect the Unexpected: Every business plan needs some wiggle room to allow for unexpected changes. Part of this involves creating budgets and marketing plans with some built-in flexibility.
- Don't Forget What Makes You Unique: while a business plan helps to look at your competitors, don't model your business after them. After all, you're in business to flourish and beat the competition.
- Be Clear About the Rewards: When you set goals in your business plan, include some concrete motivation that goes beyond the satisfaction of a job well done. People work harder when they know what they're working for.
- Don't Skip the Plan!: Planning is hard work, and there's no guarantee it will make your business succeed. But a good plan is still the best way to turn your vision into a realistic, coherent business. So don't just think about this step -- really do it!
Planning is hard work but a good plan is the best way to turn your vision into reality.
Hear what one of our clients has to say about business planning.