The business plan. What a concept. And when used correctly, what a great tool to keep you, your people and your business focused on the right things, and keep the company headed in the right direction.
However before the plan can be used, it has to be developed and written. For many business owners and managers, the thought and then actions required to develop and write the plan is an uphill battle.
If you are one of these people, don’t feel bad. We find that only five percent of businesses have a business plan, and of those only 35 percent use it to operate their business. The starting point is making the decision to write a business plan and pledging to actually use it in the day-to-day management of your business.
There are many helpful books, software packages and online tools that claim to aid in the development of business plans, but it is our opinion that the average person is so overwhelmed by all the information and tools at their disposal that they lose track of the key components that a business plan needs to include.
It is quite simple, and when taken for what it is—a planning tool—the business plan can be written relatively quickly. Let’s look at five essential components of a basic business plan:
1) Define your product/service and your company’s value—your value proposition.
2) Define what you sell and what you want to sell.
3) Define why anybody would buy what you sell and why they would buy it from you.
4) Define the specific people who will buy what you sell.
5) Define your current resources and the future resources you will need to meet your goals—for example, people, skills, technology, machinery, facility, finances, etc.
Defining each of these five essential components is typically not easy and requires you to really know and understand your business and customers, but it is worth it to take the time.
The business plan is a critical component of leading a business, so why not start writing one today? Don’t worry about being perfect or correct at this point, just think and write. Then speak with your team and start molding your plan. Before you know it, you will have a new tool that you can use to manage your business.
The next and most important step is implementation, where you make it happen. This is the area where most owners and managers fail, however, because it requires focus, dedication and constant follow-up. The majority of owners and managers do not like these functions and need implementation help, so this is where seeking out a company that specializes in coaching and implementing these methods and skills is recommended.