I go back to the basics because often—not always—our worst errors happen at the beginning, as in starting without a strategy, a system or support. Or we dive into marketing without fully understanding our client, without creating a way to capture their information, without an automated way to solve their problem and fulfill our promise. I’m sure you could come up with your own list of bad beginnings.
If we take the time to address the fundamentals, on the other hand, then we can establish something that lasts.
If a business was alive (and I think it can be, but it depends on the vision of the owner), then it would have a brain and a business plan. In fact, according to Shannon Whealy of Turnaround Design, the business plan is the brain of the company. In The Anatomy of a Web Business she says:
“A great company can’t thrive without it. It doesn’t have to be formal unless you are seeking investors. But know where you would like your business to be. Entrepreneurs and small companies are able to change and implement their business plans easily.”
But you can’t implement what doesn’t exist, and winging it isn’t always good for business. If your intention is to establish something that will last, that has some legacy in it, then strategy is a must, and that includes a business plan.
Your plan doesn’t have to be elaborate or extensive, but it does need to be well-considered, addressing the key areas that will impact your business, including the problem, the people and the marketing. The problem that you solve determines the product and the service you provide. The people who want what you have shape your target market. And understanding the first two makes it easier to design (or pay someone to help you design) the marketing message.
Business plan resources
More Small Business Planning Tips: Includes a variety of business planning links. There’s information for bloggers in business, for those of us who need a plan to go green, for changing your business plan, for creating business plans with investors in mind, etc. It’s a good reference whether you are trying to create a new plan or reevaluate an existing one.
The Anatomy of a Web Business: Shannon includes the rest of “the body” that shapes your Web business. Many of her tips are relevant to any type of business. It’s an infographic, so it’s easy to digest.
Those are great points Jamillah!
I’d also think it’s really important to ask yourself how the market is evolving. Even trying to determine where the market will be in a year or two will help you plan accordingly.
Nice post Jamillah for all business owners!
Your advice in combination with my experience reminds me how much Entrepreneurs truly dislike writing down a business plan, especially after the initial launch of their business.
I think there are two reasons for this: first, Entrepreneurs are always thinking about future opportunities for their business; and second they are very busy working the business plan already established, even if that plan is only in their head!
We encourage Entrepreneurs to commit to reducing the business plan they have swimming in their head one time per year and to limit it to two pages. In fact, by doing this on a single page (front and back), this plan can be kept close by at all times. And this is important, because we all know that before the next year passes, changes will be necessary!
Thanks for the thoughtful post!
All the best,
Holly Magister, CPA, CFP
Jamillah, very good ideas! I just opened my own business and the hardest part was to come up with a business plan! Thanks to the internet I was able to read about how to do a business plan, and yes, it took me a very long time. I didn’t know how many aspects I had to consider. It’s been very helpful to have it now – I always go back to it. Here you can read a little bit about my business project http://www.aviladental.com/2011/09/337/
Brad, I think market projections are a challenge for a lot of people, but you’re right we do need to ask the question because there is strategy in “seeing the future.”
Holly, thanks for sharing the two page business plan. I love “short and sweet” solutions. In fact, my personal plan is portable and always evolving.