Do you know where you are going?

Planning is a first in my tips for being a successful business and research shows that most successful businesses have a business plan.  Writing a business plan isn’t top of many people’s list of things to do!  But when you drive to somewhere you have never visited before you don’t just set off and hope to get there one day!  You look at a map or tell your Sat Nav the end point.  So, when you set off you have a plan, a direction and a timescale.

Plan and Destination

The principle is exactly the same when you are running your business – you need a plan so you know what your destination is and how you are going to get there.  If you are a new business or early start business it can be difficult to pinpoint your destination.  One thing you can do to help is ask yourself “in one year’s time how will I know if my business has been successful?”  Then plan to make that happen.

A Living Document

Your business plan should be a living breathing document that helps you drive your business forward.  You should review it regularly to gauge if you are on track to get to your end point in the required timescale.  If you go off track you can adjust the plan so you get back on track rather than waiting until the end of the year and then realising that you have failed to achieve your goal / end point.

Vision, Marketing Strategy and Finance

So what should go into a business plan?  This depends on what the plan is for.  If you are looking for £50,000 from a bank to finance the business the plan will be far more comprehensive than if you are writing the plan for yourself.  The plan may consist of just three pages – Vision, Making the plan happen (marketing strategy) and what that means (finance or cashflow forecast).

Vision – what does your business do, who are your target market and what is your goal or end point for the next 1, 3, 5, 10 years.  Do you want to grow a business that gives you a good standard of living or do you want to grow a multinational business operating across the world? How do you see your business in the future?  Once you have done this you can then look at how to make this happen.

Marketing Strategy – have worked out who your target market are the next question is how do you tell them about your products or services.  If you have worked out your target market correctly you will know who they are, where they are wand how they communicate.  You can then decide how to market to them and what marketing strategy will be best suited to achieve your goals.  For example, if your target market is people over 80 years old you are unlikely to run a social media campaign.

Finance – once the Marketing Strategy is written you now need to think about finances, how much money will be coming in and out of the business each month.  How many customers will you have each month and how much will they be paying you?  What business expenses will you incur each month?  How much profit will you be making each month once expenses are paid?  It is important to know this information.  Once you do you can adjust the figures, check they are realistic and then track them each month.

Good luck with your business plan.


Picture credit: Михаило Јовановић