Business plans are not only for those just setting out on their journey in the marketplace. They are useful when acquiring a new business, forecasting growth, introducing a new product or service, entering a new market, responding to changes in the market or changing a significant aspect of your business.
And like any other map, your plan will have to be adjusted according to your vision for the company, conditions and opportunities in the marketplace and your business’ current condition.
To write your business plan, answer these three questions:
1. Where are you now?
2. Where do you want to be at a future date?
3. How will you get there?
THE FIRST QUESTION – ‘Where are you now?’ – must be your starting point. This question provides a base for the overall plan. It looks at your business to establish such things as:
- your products and services
- your current level of sales
- your customer groups
- your pricing policy
- your distribution policy
- your promotional activity
- your overall operation
- your team members
- your finances
Answering the question, “Where are you now?” is often a major stumbling block because most people don’t know where to start. However, the answer is surprisingly simple if you divide your business planning into four key areas: Operational, Marketing, Employees and Finance. This allows you to analyze your business to create a solid planning base.
THE SECOND QUESTION – “Where do you want to be at a future date?” is simply asking you to visualize your business operation at a set date in the future. This visualization process is almost identical to the exercise of setting personal objectives. The difference, however, is that the focus here is on business objectives.
THE THIRD QUESTION – “How will you get there?” asks about the steps you need to take in order to achieve the business objectives you have set. These steps, or strategies, can be identified, written down and executed. Additional things a business plan should consider:
- What is a reasonable expectation of profitability and when?
- How will the business pay you and your team members?
- What are estimated annual expenses?
- What is the pricing strategy?
- What is the need for what you are offering and what profit margins can you expect?
While you may already know these answers, it is very important to write it down. If you ever need to approach your bank or potential investors, you will need it. Writing it down will reinforce your vision, give you a reference point for checking your business’ progress and will most likely bring up factors you did not consider when creating the plan in your head.
Writing your business plan down:
- Helps you determine and coordinate all aspects of business operations
- Gives you a means to analyze and determine what might be the best change to boost your business out of a stagnant situation
- Assists you in determining the risks and benefits associated with any changes
- Decreases your chances of making a mistake or not considering important factors in your business.
If you’d like assistance creating a business plan or revising your current one, the advisors at Whittaker can help. Contact us today to schedule a phone call or meeting.