Five Pointers for Crafting a Winning Business Plan
A business plan is essential to the success and expansion of your company, regardless of your level of experience as an entrepreneur, but it can seem like an overwhelming task.
According to Austin, Texas-based business strategist and coach Danielle Langton, a business plan ought to serve as a “compass.” It can assist you in squelching distractions from both inside and outside the company, staying focused while navigating the market, and obtaining business funding.
For a business owner and their team, a well-written business plan will also provide confidence, clarity, direction, and alignment. Two business advisors share their best advice for writing a business plan to help you through the process.
Consider the big picture
Oren Shani, a certified business advisor at Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit community development financial institution based in California, advises starting with conceptualizing your business rather than launching into a 60-page template.
According to Shani, this entails considering what unique value a new business can offer the market and how to convert that value into income. According to Langton, operating businesses need to know what went well and what didn’t in the prior year.
According to Shani, once you have this “bird’s-eye view,” it will be easier to focus your action steps, which will differ depending on your type of business. He notes that some companies actually only need a one-pager and that “a lot of businesses find that they don’t need that sixty-pager.”
A component of your way of life
Prioritizing striking a balance between their personal and professional lives is Langton’s main piece of advice to her clients. You can spend more time with your business when you know what your priorities are outside of it. This can help you become a more productive and successful business owner. She asks her clients, “Are you really also enjoying the life that it is providing, or are you just so focused on the revenue?” as they earn a living.
She suggests beginning with your “nonnegotiables,” or the things you refuse to give up in order to run your business, in order to bring this clarity to life. You can then create your ideal week and focus on your business from there.
Set aside the necessary time
When it comes to actually writing your business plan, take into account your preferred method of working as well as your schedule. Langton advises allocating a week for people who prefer to work on one task at a time. If you’re having problems making it a priority, you can even block out the time on your calendar. To help you get beyond any obstacles or find more inspiration, think about taking a trip somewhere new.
But Shani says don’t compartmentalize if feeling overwhelmed has prevented you from starting in the first place. He claims that writing anything down—even if it’s just a simple list with bullets—is more productive than waiting for a free day without interruptions. Additionally, there are advantages to working on your business plan while managing your company, as ongoing analysis can improve your plan as you go.
Perfectionism and business plans don’t mix, says Langton, particularly for first-time company owners.
Adopt a dynamic business plan
Both Shani and Langton contend that a business plan is never fully finished, regardless of how long you’ve been in operation. Your business plan should evolve and adapt together with your understanding of your industry, your target market, and your clientele.
According to Shani, the process of creating a business plan takes the longest because it involves learning more than writing the plan. For example, a business owner should always try to find out why a sale goes through or doesn’t. This will assist them in determining the buying patterns of their clientele as well as how they interact with the company’s name and merchandise.
It might make the most sense for some business owners to check in on a monthly or quarterly basis, reprioritize, and get rid of things that aren’t working. According to Shani, others might find it more beneficial to review their strategy in light of new information or noteworthy market developments, such as legislation changes, adjacent real estate projects, or the entry of new rivals.
Make the most of your busy time
This can be good news for your business plan and your bottom line if you’re a business owner anticipating a holiday rush. According to Langton, one of the best ways to gather information about your company is to lean in during your busiest time of year. By using that information wisely at the end of the year, you can position yourself for success the following.
Although not everything needs to be finished by the first of the year, she says that taking mental notes and making observations now will prepare you to update your business plan in January with purpose.