Writing a Business Plan
“So now you have your plan … what are you going to do to make it come true? Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” – Dennis Wholey
Do you envision bamboo sticks being slowly driven under your fingernails?
Why is it that so many small and medium-sized business owners think of planning as nothing but pure torture, when in big business – especially publicly-traded businesses – planning is thought of so highly that most Fortune 500 companies have dedicated planning departments? Fundamentals still apply whether a business has one employee, or 100,000. And planning is still the most effective way to realize your goals and create more time to develop and grow your business.
All good plans include a Situation Analysis and a S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis:
Your Situation Analysis is simply where your business stands today.
- How much money do you have on hand?
- How much do you owe?
- How many projects are you currently working on?
- How many do you have in your pipeline?
- How many clients do you have?
- How many leads are you working on?
- Do you track your leads, or not? Do you ask for referrals and testimonials?
- What marketing do you do?
- What sales practices do you employ?
A S.W.O.T. is a way of taking the elements of your Situation Analysis and breaking them down into manageable elements. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal. “I do customer service extremely well” would be a strength, as would “I have 25 clients who repeatedly do business with me.”
A weakness would be, “I don’t track my leads,” or, “I don’t have a database of current and past clients.”
Opportunities and Threats are external to your business that you either can capitalize on, or need to address in order for your plan to succeed. So an opportunity could be, “I have a great relationship with a third party that can lead to a dozen warm leads,” and a threat would be “My potential customers don’t see the difference between my business and my competitors, so I’m always competing on price.”
After you have analyzed your current situation, you then have to create S.M.A.R.T. goals to address the issues that you believe will most move your business forward.
What is a goal?
Simply put, a goal is a major activity you want to achieve by a specific period of time. And that’s exactly what S.M.A.R.T. stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time specific.
It’s not enough to say that one of your goals is to double your business. Instead, you want to focus on increasing your net profits by 25%, by adding 12 clients at $XX before X date.
The key to planning is merging your guts with your heart and head on PAPER and then following through on the commitments that you made to yourself (and your team if you have one) so that your business can grow.
If you want to learn more about the business planning process, there are a wide range of truly great resources available. Or you can contact one of our business coaches to learn more about programs to help business owners develop and implement effective plans.