As an entrepreneur, you were excited about starting your own business – all the personal time you were going to have with your family – able to work on your own schedule. Then reality hit you in the face. Starting and running a business is not easy, as you know it takes TIME and DEDICATION to keep you motivated. Sometimes when I’m talking to clients and friends, I picture in High School when you selected a certain class because it was the “easy A” or “slide through class”. Some entrepreneurs have this same feeling about starting a business. Don’t get me wrong, part of the joy of working for yourself is that you don’t have to clock in and work someone else’s schedule. You are the business owner – you can design your business to be what you want.
Design a business?
YES! What vision do you have for your business? What are your goals for your business? Creating a Business Plan is the best way to construct or design your business. Would you build a house without a plan? Would you take a road trip without GPS?
I know that creating a Business Plan is arduous, but when you take the time, you will learn more about your marketplace and possible risks. Planning will keep you from wandering blindly and relying on luck. Planning will keep you efficient with your money and staff. Ultimately, if you need to seek financing from your bank or other venture, you will need to present a business plan.
Show me the money!
There are many resources and styles of business plans. If you are seeking financing, you will have to complete a formal plan depending on your financier’s needs. If you are not seeking financing, you should still create a plan to determine your Market, Competition, Growth and Financial Goals. What makes you different in your marketplace? How will you leverage this to create Sales? Do you have special requirements to differentiate your business? What is your operating budget?
Which pathway do I take?
As you develop your plan, you will also determine where you want to go, and how you will get there. This is the most important part, and most overlooked. I have seen business plans that show the financial growth, but no PATH on how to get there. For instance, you want to grow your revenue by 5% each year – it is a great goal but without a description of the systems you only have a goal. How will you accomplish this? Who do you need to add to your team to accomplish this goal? Will you need to increase your Marketing budget? What about your technology?
All these questions, and more, need to be answered so you can put your business on the right path to succeed. Where is your business going? That depends on your Business Plan.
Dust off the plan!
Now that you have a business plan, you have the tool to measure your business growth. You have created the means to analyze your business. Don’t create a plan and let it collect dust, you need to measure your actual growth against your plan to see if you are on the right track. Are you spending too much on Advertising, too little on new Products? Sometimes you will need to modify your plan if you determined a different direction or added a new product/service to your business.
Your business plan is a tool for the future of your business; plan the project and get it done – or review your existing plan. You need to set aside the time to work on the plan – review the plan to actual – modify the plan as your business grows.