Many entrepreneurs start their business ventures with the best of intentions, but once they get overwhelmed by their daily tasks, they give up and quit before they’ve ever had a chance to succeed. It’s easy to over-complicate the planning process, but in reality, your business plan doesn’t have to be complicated or take weeks (or even months!) to put together; it can be simple enough that you can do it on one long car ride. Here are five simple steps to help you create an effective business plan in no time!
Define your audience
Many people believe that business plans are too expensive or too complicated. This is not the case. There are many resources available for small businesses who want to create a business plan, such as free templates, webinars, and workshops offered by Small Business Coach. Most of these resources offer personalized coaching sessions with a trained expert in business planning so you can get advice tailored just for your situation. These experts will also help you make sure your plan is attainable–something that is often neglected during the process of creating a business plan. Remember, it’s all about taking steps in the right direction!
Keep it short and sweet
Small business coaches, especially in the early stages of a new business, can be an invaluable resource. A small business coach is someone who helps you explore your goals, brainstorm ways to achieve them, and then set specific steps for how to get there. The best part? They’re on-call 24/7! A good plan won’t necessarily solve all of your problems, but it will give you clarity about what’s happening in your company so that you can take action when necessary. It will also help provide some peace of mind that everything is under control.
In order to keep things manageable, focus on the process and not just the goal. What are the steps to achieving that goal? What tools do I need to use? How much time will this take? How much money do I need before I start this project? Creating measurable objectives along with timelines provides a map with which we can measure success or determine if our plans should change.
Don’t overcomplicate things
There’s a lot of information out there on how to go about creating a business plan. But the truth is, if you can write down your idea in a few sentences, you’re already well on your way. Start by writing three simple sentences describing what your business does and the problem it solves for people. Then add one sentence about why people need this service or product. Keep going with this 3-1-1 formula for each section of your business plan: 3 sentences describing your company, 1 sentence about why it’s needed, and 1 sentence listing the benefits.
Write it down
- Start with a good idea.
- Think about who your customers are, what problem you’re solving for them, and how your product or service will solve it.
- Brainstorm ways that you can measure success of your business (how will you know if you’re successful).
- Outline the processes that need to happen in order for your business plan to work (marketing, operations, and finance).
- Divide the tasks among team members so that they each have clear roles and understand their responsibilities within the company.
Get input from others
Businesses fail for a variety of reasons, but the one thing most have in common is that they did not anticipate the need for change. If you’re not flexible enough to pivot in the face of adversity, then you will likely end up with a failed business plan. In order to avoid this fate, come up with contingencies for every possible problem before it happens. This way, if something does happen, you’ll be able to adapt on the fly.
Make it visual
- Write down your goals for the next three months.
- Break each goal into three to five steps needed to reach that goal.
- Prioritize those steps in order of importance, with the most important ones at the top of your list.
- Create a timeline for when you want to complete each step on your list, so you can see when you need to get started on them and which ones will take the longest time-wise.
- Make sure you have everything in place before starting any work (e.g., supplies).
- Be proactive about getting feedback from other people on how things are going–we often overestimate what we can accomplish in a short period of time!