Whenever you choose to take a huge leap such as opening your own business it is best to be as prepared as possible, the same way you plan your shopping so as not to waste money, you should plan your business steps to success also. Having a business plan gives you direction, guides your expectations for the road ahead and is the perfect place to set yourself goals over the short, medium and long term.
It can be very easy to get caught up in the day to day running of your business and find yourself working in the business more than on it and losing sight of what you set out to achieve. This is when you refer back to your plan and remind yourself of the direction you should be heading and where your business should be at that point in time.
Any bank, financial institution or investor will want to see your business plan before they decide to lend you money, having a plan makes you a better borrower by showing a lender you have put a lot of thought into your business strategy and you have a path to success clearly mapped out. Lenders are only interested in lending money to businesses that will be profitable and able to repay their debts; they also hope your success will lead to expansion and more borrowing.
Writing a successful business plan takes a lot of time and research and can seem a very daunting task to begin with, but if done properly you will find it well worth the time and effort in the long run. It is important to
- Learn about the industry you are entering including your competition and target customers.
- Figure out exactly where you are in the marketplace right now and where you want to be in 1 year, 5 years and so on. It’s ok to be at the bottom to start, the only way to go is up!
- Identify problems and roadblocks you may encounter during launch and for at the least the first 12 months of operating and be prepared for them, have strategies in place to conquer challenges.
- Understand your financial situation now and your projections including your break even point. Know how you will manage your cash flow, especially initially when income is low and expenses may be high.
- Set yourself SMART goals.
Specific – know exactly what you want.
Measurable – have an effective way of measuring your success
Achievable – make it achievable; don’t set yourself up to fail.
Realistic – Be realistic, it’s ok to be ambitious but within reason.
Time – Have a set time frame to achieve your goal.
Good goal setting is an essential tool for everyone and a great habit to get into.
- Make tough decisions that are smart for your business. You may not want to work on Sundays, pay for advertising upfront or pound the pavement delivering fliers but if its best for your business and will aid your long term success it might be a matter of suck it up for now!
If you spent time doing all the above research and information gathering you should have everything needed to write your plan and it should include
- A business summary
- An operations plan
- A marketing plan
- A future plan
- A financial plan
You must always be willing to adjust and review your plan, change is unavoidable and being able to adjust your business plan to suit is vital to ensure long term success. A business plan is not created once then stored away, it is constantly updated, changed and adjusted to suit the businesses current circumstances and the current economic climate, and it is wise to review it regularly.
A great place to find a business plan template along with many other useful tools and get more info is here at: http://www.business.gov.au/Information/business-plan-template-and-guide/Pages/default.aspx
There’s even an app, just search MyBizPlan from your apple or android device.