Small Business & Startups

Do you have a business plan?

April 29, 2013
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Do you have a business plan that maps out the success of your business?

When owners discuss their businesses and talk about their “business plan,” generally they make one of four statements.

1.  I haven’t ever had a business plan — they are too much work.

2.  I did one when I started my business, but haven’t updated it in years.

3.  I have one, but I’m not sure where it is.

4.  I have one, it is right here in my head.

The external business plan

There are two types of business plans — external and internal. 

They do have different uses, but need to be synchronized. They should have the same outcomes, but look different and have very different applications.

You may have heard or read that external business plans need to be a “book” about your business’ future, but the plan can be as few as 10 to 15 pages.

Being concise is more important than length. The quality of the plan is what will assist you in accomplishing the goals of your business.    

Are your numbers right?

Another challenge is when the written plan and financials do not match or contradict each other.

For example, the business plan might state one rate of growth, and the financials demonstrate a different rate.

This sends up warning flags to the decision maker that the company may not be reliable or ready for their business. Accuracy and consistency is very important. 

The internal business plan

The internal business plan is typically called a strategic plan.

Many companies have horror stories about strategic planning either taking months to complete, never getting completed or when it is completed, it's never implemented. Research states this is the largest complaint about a company’s leadership.

Businesses should use the strategic plan as a measurement tool.

Continually chart the successes or failures in reaching your goals and objectives.

If your business is on track for success or not on a track, you have the flexibility to alter the plan to ensure the best outcome for the year.

Whichever plan your company needs next — external or internal — the most important part is to get started. 

Look for resources to assist in your planning process, and set aside the time to work “on” your business, while working “in” your business. 

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