I know everybody says "you must have a business plan" but have you really spent a few hours focusing your thoughts about the future of your business?
Writing a business plan is one of those tasks that business owners and managers know they should do but often don't do unless the bank manager is breathing down their neck threatening to take away the bank overdraft.
This is a waste of a great opportunity to get your thoughts down on paper both to clarify your thinking and as a record of what you think you want to achieve and how you think you will do it.
It's only by having the record that a written business plan provides that you can see how your ideas develop and change.
I've written this before but there is an old saying "If you don't know where you are going, any road will do."
Writing your business plan will encourage you to make choices which is important both in terms of what you will focus on achieving but also what you won't do.
If you find yourself getting easily distracted, not sure where you are going or jumping from one opportunity or another, then it is time to write a business plan.
This 17 page report is packed with information:
- 8 reasons for preparing a business plan
- 5 factors for a success plan
- 11 questions to ask and answer when preparing your business plan
- Why your bank manager wants to check your PARTS
- A template for assessing the knowledge and skills you need for business success
- 9 questions to ask about your strategy
- The importance of customer demographics and market segmentation
- A guide to helping you to find your niche
- Positioning price v quality
- 10 questions to ask about your marketing strategy
- Are you in the right business sector? This is a critical issue if you are just starting your business and the business plan report helps you to assess your business risk across seven industry characteristics and seven internal factors.
- Checklist to make sure your plan is up to scratch for the bank manager
Do you need to write a full business plan?
In my view the answers are:
- Yes if you are just starting out in business you need the full business plan
- Yes if you are looking to raise finance, bank managers expect a business plan
- Yes if your business is in trouble and you need to make some tough decisions. Just getting your thoughts down on paper, both about the current problems, their causes and what you intend to do can be very empowering. When you have a plan you will feel in control but without a plan, you are likely to be desperately fire-fighting.
Start small and spend an hour writing our your thoughts about your current situation. The next day spend another hour writing down your ideas for the various options. The next day, look at your solutions and identify what is stopping you putting them in action.I am sure that you will start feeling in more control and won't see extending your business plan as busy work.
- No if your business is performing well and you just want to fine tune it, then you don't need to do the full business plan but I do recommend that you spend time outlining your current thoughts about where you are, where you want to go and your plans for crossing the gap. The more people in your business, the more the actions plans have to be developed.
Given the choice, I would much rather you prepare a one or two page business plan that looks at the big issues having given your business future two hours of thought, than not doing anything at all.
As an example of how you can keep a plan, short and to the point, one of the key Guerrilla Marketing tools is the Seven Sentence Guerrilla Marketing Plan.
Seven Sentence Guerrilla Marketing Plan
This is an extremely flexible idea which can be applied to your business or just to one particular advert or direct mail letter or any stage in between.
- The purpose of your marketing - the one action you want your customer to do
- Your key benefits
- Your target markets
- Your marketing weapons
- Your positioning in your target market
- The identity of your business - how you really are rather than a false image
- Your marketing budget
Extending Your Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is the core of your business plan but you can extend it by:
- A brief summary of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
- Your key financial measures, now and what you want at the end
- Your operational strategy - how you are going to make things happen inside your business