Keys to Developing a Successful Business Plan
Every successful business needs a solid foundation. That foundation usually comes in the form of clearly set and articulated goals to guide the business. A business plan articulates those goals and serves as a compass for most businesses. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues. How, then, do business leaders create a successful business plan that will guide the company from its fledgling days into years of prosperity? Here are some suggestions and tips from those that have come before you on this journey.
- Before drafting your business plan decide on your goals both short and long term.
- Put your goals to the S.M.A.R.T. test. ISMART is an acronym that asks if your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. It’s a simple tool used by businesses to go beyond the realm of fuzzy goal-setting into an actionable plan for results. If you have not heard of this method of analysis Google SMART planning and get started.
- Find a guide that can help you draft your business plan. For example the US Small Business Association has comprised a step-by-step process to write your business plan. Entrepreneur Magazine has written a comprehensive site that helps young business leaders get started in the right path.
- Consider all the major categories that you will need to cover in your business plan. Some of the following aspects may need the assistance of experts or professionals who have experience in starting up a small or medium sized business.
Executive Summary – A snapshot of your business plan as a whole.
Company Description – A brief description of what you do and how you differentiate your company from others in your field. You may want to include a thorough description of what you sell or what your specific services will be.
Financial Aspects – This section should include how the company will be financed and projections into the future.
Marketing Analysis – Include the research that you have conducted on your field and where your company would fit into to the overall picture.
Business Organization – Discuss how your company will be organized with management and leadership.
Business planning should never be done in a vacuum so plan who you want to include in your pre-launch discussions. These choices can help set your company off in the right direction.