A business plan consists of a collection of your visions, your intentions and, ultimately, your decisions. Every successful business starts with a plan.
It doesn’t matter if your business is made up of 100 people or just you. Having a business plan in place that you read often is your map, your GPS to success.
Well-written plans help you answer the questions: What is being built? What do you want your business to look like in one, three or five years? Putting your vision onto paper is powerful.
It is imperative that all business owners have a business plan and review it often — every year, at the very least.
When speaking with business owners, I have found they think a business plan has to be complicated, long and arduous. No. A succinct business plan that is only one page is just as powerful as a 50-page plan, if not more so.
A concise business plan includes five aspects: a vision, a mission, objectives, strategies and an action plan.
Your business vision should answer the question, What are you building? Formulate a statement or two painting a picture of the purpose, design and structure of your business. What is the overall dream you have for your business when it is thriving?
The second aspect is the mission of the business. This short statement communicates your company’s focus. It should answer who the business will serve and what it will do for them. Often, companies post their mission statement in the lobby or front office for everyone to view.
The objectives of the business should make clear the results you want to achieve in specific, measurable language. Your goals clarify what you are going to do to build the business. Be sure to include the actions you want to take, specific results from those actions and a date to complete each of them. The business objectives should drive the behaviors of everyone helping to build the business.
The next aspect is strategy. Success doesn’t happen by accident; it is planned. A carefully crafted set of strategies is the road map for how you will carry out your objectives and make business decisions.
And the last aspect of your business plan is your action plan. This is not your job description or daily tasks. Your action plan should be made up of business-building projects and programs to implement your strategies and achieve your objectives. This is how you create your overall vision. What work needs to be done to grow the business?
Some parts of your plan will flow together easily. Other parts may take more time, brainstorming and editing.
Ultimately, having a simple plan on paper that you can read daily and review with employees will help to keep you motivated and on track.
Building your business is a marathon, not a sprint. A business plan keeps you moving forward in the right direction.
• Victoria Buckmann has 25 years of sales experience and had a successful corporate career with a Fortune 100 company.