A business plan is not just for seeking funding. It’s an organized and sequential collection of to-do lists that are crucial for the success of your business. There are countless benefits of writing a well thought Business Plan but I have selected my favorite 7: Visualization, Clarity, Adaptation, Communication, Focus, Confidence and Accountability.
Start with the end in mind. Having a solid business plan is like bringing the future of your business into the present and doing something about it today. Visualization is powerful! It gives you a picture of where you want to go plus, it motivates you to figure out the steps you should take to get there. In an adaptation from Napoleon Hill‘s quote, “The body will not achieve what the mind cannot conceive.” When you keep pictures of your desired future in front of you, and you visualize your goals, the only bus you will take is the one that will get you there.
This is one of my favorite words. A SBP (strategic business plan) ultimately provides clarity because it forces you to think in an organized as well as a progressive manner. Writing in a sequential order what you will do, how you will do it, where, who with and when, helps filter the unnecessary noise leaving behind the essence. After removing emotional factors you are left with clear objectives along with a realistic, integrated guide that you can follow. “Clarity comes from engagement not thought”. Marie Forleo. To get clear on something start by writing it down. This is much more effective than just thinking about it. Your ideas will become clear and so will your path.
When you know where you are; you identify who is already there; and what they are doing or not doing, you have the gift of insight that will let you refine your offerings. Your opportunity together with your difference becomes evident. To a large degree, investing time in analyzing your market in addition to your competition, – in the early planning stage- ensures that your products or services have the best chance to thrive. As you monitor your industry in addition to the players in it, you can recognize developing trends. When you don’t adapt and make the necessary adjustments, important developing changes may even put you out of business if you don’t adapt.
A strategic business plan is a powerful tool for effective internal as well as external communication. With your employees: it outlines the core values and philosophy that you want to infuse in your culture; it lays out the progressive direction in which you want them to walk; along with making it easier for the people working with you to contribute to your purpose. With your customers: you first get clear on how you want to be perceved or in my suggestion, what you really stand for, this is, the set of values and beliefs that you represent ; second, you get clear on the message that you would like to communicate; and third, you will identify the language that you and your target audience share so that your communication produces better results.
Not having a Business Plan
is like driving in a new city
a GPS, a map or a compass.
Surely you’ll get somewhere,
but you may miss out on the most important sites.
A business plan points out the need to focus on management skills. Because in order to reach to your desired destination you will need to work on the big picture. That is, make focused decisions, implement your strategies, analyze the results and make course corrections when necessary. This exposes an opportunity to delegate the day to day tasks effectively. By freeing up space in your time and mind, you find favorable circumstances to focus on working on your long term goals. “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks” Winston Churchill. This here can mean that you shouldn’t get so busy putting out daily fires that you lose track of where you were going in the first place. When you can focus on the important tasks you can ignore distractions.
A good plan will add confidence to your talk as well as your walk regarding your venture. If your numbers work realistically, then your idea is feasible and it can serve as a sales document for investors and other interested parties. With careful financial projections in place you identify if you will have the necessary cash requirements, if your expenses will be covered, if the price is appropriate –among other things-. Even though these elements are based on assumptions in the case of a startup, they are very critical. An existing business will base calculations on past sales. Your numbers reveal your potential pitfalls in areas of concern but once you identify them you can work through them. As you start reaching your financial milestones, you will find satisfaction and motivation through your accomplishments. Your road map will give you the confidence that you are on a good route to your target.
A strategic business plan will call for an evaluation of your progress in operations, marketing efforts and financial decisions. In this manner, it can keep you accountable in 2 ways: From the bottom–up, it aligns your employees to your vision, also their responsibilities can be defined by your goals and objectives. From the top–down, a SBP will keep you accountable to yourself besides those that are, or will be working with you. This written document can push you to do what you said you would do, in the time that you said you would do it. Entrepreneurs, business owners or sole proprietors almost never have supervision. It is possible, that as you begin to feel the weight of wearing many hats, you begin to relax with your efforts. Again, a plan in place is an accountability mechanism useful to get your drive back in line.
I need my mind free for creativity, for inspiration and for coming up with ways to enjoy life along the way. Therefore, having a good business plan to follow, allows me the freedom of less decisions so that I can focus more on the real important things that make up my priorities. I don’t have to think as much when the crucial things have been addressed beforehand and I have a clear path to follow.
It is never too late to write a strategic business plan for your start-up or existing enterprise. It is never late to visualize your future, to get clear on your purpose or to adapt to your environment. It is never late to communicate effectively and perfect your leadership skills. And lastly, it is smart to remain focused and it is always a good idea to set your-self up with accountability.