The New Year is upon us and I felt it was time to get a fresh start by looking at my business and attempting to take it to the next level. So for the month of January I will be sharing with you some of the information I have found on planning, goal setting, and measuring success. I am kicking off the series with some information on writing a business plan.
Defining a business plan
A business plan is a document containing information about the structure of a business. It is often the first impression of your company to potential investors. Business plans average 15-20 pages. The length depends on the type of business and amount of detail contained in the plan.
Why do you need one?
Business plans are important because they help the company to stay focused, organized and to reduce unwanted occurrences. They are used for planning, measuring success, and improving your business. Three major reasons to have a business plan are:
- To figure out and be aware of what resources are needed to get started and maintain the business.
- To know what needs to happen for the company to be profitable and the timeframe for potential profits.
- To provide necessary information needed by customers, vendors, and lenders to market your business.
Having a business plan allows you to be objective and to recognize potential weaknesses in your company so that they can be addressed early on.
Elements of a business Plan
Business plans usually include the following elements:
- Object of activity
- Market analysis
- Market approach
- Management structure/Organization/Personnel
Types of business plans
- Miniplan – A miniplan is a 1-10 page document that briefly addresses all of the elements. The miniplan is often used to test business ideas and may precede the more comprehensive plan. It should not be used to replace a full length plan.
- Working Plan – A working plan is the plan the business may use in its day to day operation. It contains a lot of detail but is much less formal that the presentation plan.
- Presentation Plan – A presentation plan is the working plan plus making it beautiful. This is the formal, polished plan full of graphics and pictures that will be shown to those outside the company (ex: bankers, investors).
- Electronic Plan – An electronic plan is basically what it sounds like, an electronic version of the presentation plan.
Dos and Don’ts
- Keep it simple
- Be specific
- Be realistic
- Make it complete
- Keep it updated
- Over estimate
- Ignore weaknesses
- Overload on tasks
- Misspell or be sloppy
A business plan will help to bring you success. Don’t write it however, and then put it away. Use it! Refer to it often and make updates and changes as your business grows and evolves. Let it guide you and keep you focused. your plan should include your overall goals for the company but it is important to break those goals down into more manageable activities. There are many great websites that can offer more information and templates that will help you get started. Here are a few that I recommend.
Stay tuned for my next segment on setting specific goals and tasks!