New Year, New Me; yes, I’m leading this article with the most cliché of sentences but do not hold it against me.
I don’t know about you but when I welcome in a New Year my mind seems to conjure up inspiring thoughts of improvements and growth. And as I was recently doing some planning for the direction in which I’d like to see my business go, I had the realisation that I was in desperate need of a business plan.
There was the initial research on how I should tackle this task and/or what I needed to include. Truth be told, there is a mountain of information and an overwhelmingly large supply of templates online. One of the templates I started with was scarily lengthy and as I was hesitantly working through it, it was a mental battle to keep going. The whole process was close to being thrown into the ’too hard basket’.
But when I sat back and reminded myself why I started this plan in the first place, and the fact that no one was making me do this (I wanted to do it for my biz), I realised that what I needed was something shorter, precise and to the point. After all, a business plan should support your business, not consume or hinder it.
Present-day and I am currently working on a one-to-two-page document that will ultimately capture the direction of my business. And because I think – no, I know – the direction for IM Business Solutions will change as I grow personally and professionally, this handy little document will be a saviour for me moving forward.
So, my small business friends, I thought I would share some of my learnings with you in case you were thinking about creating a business plan yourself:
Why write a business plan?
In a nutshell, a business plan can provide you with a well thought out direction for where you want your business to head. It should be something that you refer back to often to make sure you haven’t strayed too far from the path. It establishes your focus and helps you to identify things that may block your path and alternatively succeed.
How to write a business plan?
Put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and type! Honestly, find a process that works for you and aligns with your objectives, and roll with it!
What should you capture?
• A clear list of objectives/goals. Be sure to include a combination of long-term and short-term goals, and don’t be afraid to change or mix things up throughout the year.
• A good old SWOT Analysis is key to any clear strategy… a what analysis?
Strengths: characteristics of your business that give it an advantage over others.
Weaknesses: characteristics that place your business at a disadvantage relative to others.
Opportunities: elements in the environment that your business could exploit to its advantage.
Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for your business.
• Competitor reporting of some kind. This will help determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your industry and assist you in implementing strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage.
In summary, writing up a business plan does not need to be daunting and it definitely shouldn’t be in the “too hard basket”. Tailor it to your needs and what will work with you and your business.
You all know I love to support small businesses and the amazing entrepreneurs that are emerging, so if you need more inspiration when it comes to planning for success then don’t be shy!