We all have dreams of what we want to experience. It may be a trip to a foreign country, the love of our life or, for many, it is success in our chosen profession.
If you’re a small business owner, chances are you want and probably need your business to be a success. If this is true, then why haven’t you taken the mandatory first step to ensure that success?
What am I talking about?
I’m talking about a business plan!
Did I just hear your eyes roll back? Don’t give me that sigh. Stop it right now!
I want you to take this conversation seriously because it is serious. After all, it is about your business, which is probably your life’s blood.
Let me ask you a question. If you really, really wanted to go to a foreign country, what are some of the first steps you would take?
- You’d determine how to travel to this place.
- You’d research hotel and housing accommodations.
- You’d determine what sights and activities you’d like to participate in while you’re there.
- You’d figure out how much this trip will cost you.
- If you didn’t have the dollars sitting in your bank account to make this trip a reality right away, then you would have to begin saving money for your trip.
- Once you had the money, you would begin to make the necessary travel plans.
What you did was to create a plan as to how you were going to achieve your dream of traveling to this foreign country.
The process is the same with the success of your business
A plan for your business is exactly the same. It moves you and your business forward by providing you with a map of where you are to where you want your business to be.
All of the marketing tactics and marketing systems you put in place should be in support of your business plan and not the other way around. You need to know what you want to accomplish to determine which marketing tactics will get you to your goal. If you need to take an airplane to get to your foreign country, you don’t want to be using a car as your mode of transportation. It won’t get you there.
Excuses for no business plan.
First, there are no ‘valid’ excuses for not having a business plan, but I’ll hear things like:
- I don’t have the time
- It takes too long
- It isn’t worth it.
- Don’t need it. I’ve been in business for several years and have done just fine without it.
Pish and tosh! That’s not exactly what I want to say…but you get the point that I’m not buying any of these excuses.
Show me a business without a plan and I’ll show you a business that is only scratching at the surface of its potential or one that could easily go under.
This is particularly irritating as there is nothing difficult about crafting a plan for your business. All you need initially is one piece of paper and 30 – 60 minutes.
Isn’t the success of your business worth that level of investment?
How-To Craft a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps
Don’t worry. You won’t be creating a bible of useless information or using it as a door stop. If you’ve done it right, you will use your business plan to guide every important business decision you make in the next 6 or 12 months.
Your business plan is for your eyes only and its purpose is to guide you to the level of success you want to achieve in whatever time frame you designate. So, take a clean sheet of paper and answer the following questions.
1. Mission - Why do you do what you do and for whom do you do it?
Tip: You’ll need a bigger mission than just ‘making money’. The only way any of us make money is being the answer to a specific problem or need. So give your mission some thought. Ideally, you want your mission to ignite a fire inside you whenever you read it.
2. Goals - What do you want to achieve? List three SMART goals. By SMART I am referring to Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound goals. None of this pie-in-the-sky “I want to earn $1 million in one month”. If you want to earn $1 million, then figure out a realistic time line given your products and your audience. Then break your goal into smaller, more digestible bits.
3. Strategies – What needs to happen in order for you to achieve these goals? Do you need more products, more customers or sell more to the customers you have?
4. Budget – With your goals and strategies in mind, what is your total annual budget? This is one figure that includes both estimated income and expenses.
5. Income Streams – What makes up your various revenue streams (think products or services) and how much do you anticipate from each?
6. Income Projections – How much do you anticipate earning in the next six or twelve months?
7. Future Income Projections – How much do you anticipate earning in the future? Insert your $1 million dream here.
8. Total expenses – How much will it cost for you to generate this level of income for this year?
9. Credentials – Why do you believe you can be successful in your business? Make a list of your credentials, degrees, experiences, strengths, spirit and capabilities. It will remind you why you can accomplish your goals.
10. Personal Growth – List two or three areas where you will need to learn more to achieve your goals?
That’s it. Once you have your business plan, you have the hard part completed. The specific marketing tactics you will use to achieve each of your goals – advertising, networking, social media, etc. – can be flushed out over the next few days.
Take Action. Do your business plan before the sun sets tonight. Then put it in a place so you can refer to it frequently and watch your business grow and prosper.