Business plans are one of those things that as a business owner you know you should have, but how many of you actually have one? I’m talking about a real one that is a representative and usable document that defines your company, your target market, and your goals and outlines a path to achieve success, whatever that looks like to you.
So why don’t more business owners have a well documented business plan?
For many business owners I know, it is just being too busy working IN the business instead of ON it. Strategic planning is something that you know is important but you just can’t quite get around to it.
I was talking with a client recently who was bemoaning the opportunity costs to his business in the past that he suddenly realized once he started working on his business in a more strategic way.
It is never too late to start working ON your business, whether you have been in business 3 years or 30 years. Making positive changes to grow your business and make it more valuable to yourself or a future potential buyer is always in season.
How do you start? First you need an analysis of where you are now. What are your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? Now, where do you want to be? Do you want to grow your business to a specific size in terms of people or income? As a business owner, do you want to transition to be working less hours, be able to take vacations and know that your business is still humming along without you? Your answers to those questions will lead you to your vision for your company.
Once you know what you want to achieve in the next one to three years, you can look at the gaps between where you are and where you want to be and begin to craft your strategies to get you there.
There are many building blocks to putting together a formal business plan, such as analyzing your target markets and putting together marketing strategies and action plan to reach them effectively. There’s also the financial plan showing historical results and projections for your planned growth. Some parts of your plan will be easier to write than others, as they will require some deep analysis and strategic thinking, and maybe some outside help. In the end, though, mapping out a good business plan will help you reach your goals, now that you’ve defined them!