No successful business is winging it. Real growth is achieved by making a formal written business plan, executing the steps, reviewing your progress, and adjusting along the way. A written plan is like a map that you can refer back to, steering your day-to-day decisions in a direction that gets you closer to the larger goals of your business. Whether you are trying to convince investors or not, you shouldn’t skip creating a formal plan if you want to run your business with discipline and purpose. Even if you’ve been running a successful business for years, writing a formal plan will help you get on track to meet even more goals.
What are the components of a formal written business plan?
Executive Summary: Give a short summary of your business. What do you do? What gap in the market does your business fill? Focus on what you believe makes your business uniquely successful. Include a mission statement that will provide an overarching guide for all company actions.
Industry Analysis: Research the market in which your business is competing and analyze the current state. What trends are affecting the market and where do you predict it’s going? Who are your competitors and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
Target Market Analysis: Come up with specific demographics that you wish to target. What is the most detailed breakdown of your target customer?
Marketing Plan: How do you spread the word about your business? Because marketing is an ongoing process that requires commitment and consistency, having a written plan is essential to seeing any form of success. You may want to consult with a marketing agency to develop a complete marketing plan that is tailored to your business' needs.
Operations Plan: What will you do on a day-to-day basis in order to reach your goals? Expand on milestones that you wish to reach and when you wish to reach them. The most successful businesses are thinking a few years out and planning accordingly.
Financial Plan: How are you going to use your budget more efficiently? What are your financial goals and projections for the future? Lay it all out and make sure it adds up, because without a sturdy financial plan, the rest of your business plan will be impossible to follow.
What do I do with my formal written business plan?
Once you have written your formal business plan, you should schedule a time to review it. If you decide to look it over on the first Tuesday of every month, it gives you the opportunity to track your progress, see if you’re meeting goals, think about what actions are working towards goals and which aren’t, and adjust your plan. Having the plan written out means that you can use it as a guide to keep you focused on long term success; without this, you’re steering your ship blind. Happy planning!