Have you ever taken a road trip? I’m sure you have. You pack your bags, load up the car, get behind the wheel – and then what? Do you pull out of the driveway and decide, “I’ll go left.” “No, wait, I’ll go right.” Then you take off driving, deciding on the turns along the way until you finally get “there” – wherever “there” is.
The course of your business is a lot like that road trip. Do you decide, “Hey, I’m going to open a business,” and then you just take each day as it comes along, deciding what you’re going to do next? I hope not! Unfortunately, many business owners take this approach. But that isn’t any way to run a business. You have to have a plan – a road map that guides you along the way to your destination, or in other words, what you want to accomplish with your business to achieve success.
A business plan is a living document about your company that talks about what you want to accomplish in the next 3 to 5 years. Some things included in a business plan are:
- A mission statement explaining what your business is all about.
- A description of your company, such as what you do, who the founders are, when the business started, etc.
- Research on your industry, the market and major competitors.
- A description of the products or services you provide.
- Financial projections
- Future plans
And like any long-term trip you may make, you need to continually update your business plan depending upon new routes you may want to take and obstacles you may encounter.
Besides providing your company with direction, a business plan can help you:
- Clarify your business niche and the growth potential for your company.
- Find and get funding from investors.
- Monitor how you’re doing in achieving your objectives.
- Identify potential manufacturing, marketing and other operational problems.
- Reduce the occurrence of legal issues.
- Determine the criteria for exiting or shutting down your business.
If you need help writing your company’s business plan, the U.S. Small Business Administration provides lots of informational articles on the various parts of a business plan as well as offering a step-by-step tool to help you write it.
But if writing a business plan seems like a really daunting task to take on, contact me. I’ve helped other small business owners write a one-page business plan that’s fast, easy and effective.
Put your business on the right path to success instead of wandering aimlessly.
To your success!