The Essence of an Effective Business Plan
“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Zig Ziglar
Do I really need a business plan? The question is not whether you need a plan or not, but what to include in the plan. Your plan does not have to be precise or perfect, not even the best business consultant can evaluate the future conditions that determine potential success and make a foolproof plan. However, a written plan can help you set goals and be prepared for any risks that may surface. photo credit: Parker Young Photography
This article assumes that you already know the importance of having a plan, but just in case you are still unsure, let me tell you that in my many years of business experience, I have yet to come across a successful business person who was just “winging it”. This is not only true for business, but also for every other aspect of life from sports, school, and throughout life.
Basic but essential tips to help you write an effective business plan:
Have a vision – Know where you want to go! Have a clear idea of where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. Start by asking yourself things like what problems are we going to solve, and what gaps are we going to fill? Most new and many experienced businesspersons fail to grasp the importance of a vision, but any business consultant and successful businessman will confirm that it is, indeed, a cornerstone of your business plan. Be as specific as you can about your vision and what you want your business to become. You’ll be amazed to see how much more effective and focused you will be when you are clear on your destination.
Know your mission – What are you going to do and how? The question seems simple enough, but the answer takes a bit of thinking. Maybe a better way to think about this portion is figure out how you are going to do things differently compared to your competition. Consider what is so unique about your approach, your products, or your services. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Assess yourself – Know your strengths and weaknesses – Start by figuring out what you need for the plan vs. what you already have- a simple gap analysis, if you will. A simple example would be: “The business needs $100K and I have $20K”, It doesn’t take a genius to figure out you need some funding in this case, and that should set you on the path of looking into funding alternatives. It may also be that you can manage the technical aspect of a product, but not necessarily the business side, and you may need to consider bringing in a partner or a business consultant. Once you have done this for different areas such as personnel and finance, you would start to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business and its current elements to help you move forward with your business plan.
Have an action plan – Set Goals and Objectives – This is where you would set short term and long term goals and objectives based on your vision, mission, and assessment. You are starting to see how one step builds atop the other in creating a business plan. Make sure your goals and objectives pass the SMART test (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). If they don’t, work on them until they do.
Write your plan – Put it to work – Remember your business plan does not have to be perfect or long- it just has to be as clear as possible. If you take the steps to examine and prepare the above steps, you should be able to write a simple 3-5 page plan or even a 10-12 slide presentation to communicate and outline your strategy. Also remember that the business plan is only effective if it’s put to work.
Renew your commitment – Reevaluate your approach – As a business consultant, I always remind my clients of the ever-changing nature of things in life and business. Nothing remains the same in life and business. Make sure to assess your plan often, and if things are not going according to plan, make any adjustments that are required to keep it relevant to your current business environment.
There are also numerous resources on the internet and in print to help you create a simple, yet effective business plan to move forward. However, if you feel you need the help of a business consultant to bring your plan to life, give SVC a call today (408) 625-1144 we’ll be happy to assist you with the process.
Frank Kamal is the CEO & Principal Consultant at Solid Vision Consulting (SVC). SVC offers Business Planning and Strategy Consulting, effective Business and Executive Coaching and consulting solutions for anyone from new startups, entrepreneurs, to mid-size companies across multiple industries and projects. Contact Frank today to get started.