For many small business owners the idea of creating an effective money making strategy for their business can be daunting. They think they have to write a complex, formal Business Plan document with long-range financial projections and spend hours on research. This just isn’t the case. For the majority of entrepreneurial businesses, a simple strategic plan with well defined outcomes will do. The strategy can and will grow as you do.
So how in-depth does it have to be?
It should be as in depth as the outcome for your business will be. In other words, if you are building a business with revenues of ten million a year and you are looking to investors to fund your business, your strategy will be quite detailed to the point where it meets all government regulations and attracts the right investors. If your strategy is to build a $200,000 a year business, the details can be very simple. In either case, the business strategy is for you to get clear with how you see the business evolving in the future.
Clarity is power, so the clearer you are, the quicker you will get there. Most of the time, a good initial strategic plan can be written within a few days. You will likely find that much of the information is in your head – the trick is to get it onto paper in an organized and methodical manner.
To be highly effective, the strategy should cover the following areas:
1. Vision: A statement of your vision. Start with the vision of what the business will look in 5, 10, or 20 years. Expand your thinking and allow your creativity to flow.
2. Purpose: A well developed purpose will drive you and your business at times when things get rough. There is usually a deep reason or calling for running a particular business. Here are a few questions to ask to quickly get to your business purpose.
- Why are you creating this business?
- Why are you passionate about the business?
- What purpose does it serve?
- How does your purpose line up with the vision?
- Why does or should it exist?
3. Mission: A mission is simply a description of your business. It should be current, alive, and vibrant. It also should accurately describe why your organization exists, what it hopes to achieve, and why it will be profitable. In other words, what is the basis for the opportunity?
4. Goals: Your goals will support you in fulfilling the vision, mission, and purpose of your business. They should be specific and well thought out with specific timelines and dates by when you will accomplish the goals.
5. The Market Place: Who is in the same business as you? What sets your business apart? What is unique about your company, products and people? Who is the best in your business genre (Maybe you can model their success)?
6. Marketing: What is the easiest way for you to market your product? Who are your customers and clients? Who is your ideal client? Where is your ideal client located? What does your ideal client want? How will you deliver your products or services?
7. Sales: What is your sales plan? How will you attract clients? What promotional materials are the best to sell your products? How will you consistently create sales? How much will you charge for your service?
8. The Location: Where is the ideal location for your business? Why is this location best for your type business? How will customers benefit from this location? What materials or equipment will you need?
9. The Management: What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Who will you hire to do the things you don’t want to do? How will your skills help you in this business? Ideally, what will your management team look like?
10. The Company Benefits: Why is it important that customers work with your company? What are the top 5 benefits of working with your company? What benefits do you offer your staff or team?
11. The Product Benefits: What are the top 5 reasons a customer will buy your products? Why will customers keep coming back?
12. The Systems: What systems do you have in place? (such as accounting, sales, marketing, operations, administration, and internet) What systems will you need in the future? What can you do to make your business easier to run?
13. Resources: What resources are required and available? This will include financial, people and emotional support resources.
14. Risks: What are the risks of being in your business and what is the payoff? Have you designed a plan to stay mentally, emotionally and physically balanced during good and bad times?
15. Programs and Timelines: What specific programs need to be developed/launch to move on with the business? When and how will they be done? What do you anticipate that each program will accomplish (quantitative goals where possible – i.e. increase sales by 5% or $15,000 within three months)?
Keep in mind that your strategic plan will evolve and be revised as your business changes and grows. It’s there to keep you on track, but it’s not written in stone.
If you decide to look for a bank loan or other financial help in the future, you will probably need a more formal document or a formal Business Plan. If you would like to see some sample Business Plans, check out the Small Business Administration’s site (www.sba.gov). Also, members of Shared Vision Network have access to Business Plan and Marketing Plan software. Check out: www.sharedvisionnetwork.com/join and enjoy your success!
In the meantime, get into action – create your Strategic Plan, Master your Business and Accelerate your Success.
All best wishes in your future endeavors!