A Clear Plan
For a Successful Business, Have a Clear Plan
When I started my business, I was told to write a business plan and only add the financial part if I intended to seek funding from a financial institution. So I did, grudgingly. In doing so, I have learned that when I get off track, that plan puts me back into focus with the vision that I initially established for the business. Since that time, I have seen goals met and rewritten some portions of the plan to coincide with and further my vision. However, studies indicate that most start-ups skip this step altogether! It’s like going on a trip and winging it! Most people will typically get out a map or use the GPS to ensure that they get to where they want to go in a relatively uncomplicated manner. You don’t just strike out without any idea of where you’re going or how you’ll get there.
Well, the same thing should be done when you start a business. Map out a plan, starting with the end. Where do you see your business when it’s most successful? How can you ensure that you’ll get there in a reasonable amount of time?
In order to make the plan, ask yourself these seven questions:
- Who Are You? This question really has two parts; one, who are you personally and two, who is your business? How you want the public (and customers) to view you as a business is important, because it can inform how you proceed with every aspect of your business.
- What Do You Offer? It’s true that you offer something that can easily be named, xyz service or xyz product, but what you really need to answer is what solutions are you providing? Is it freedom? Is it time? Is it something else? If you can answer that, you’ll be able to move your business forward faster.
- Who Is your Customer? Customer identification is an important part of owning and running a successful business. It doesn’t end once you figure out who your customer is either, because you will need to continue to study them over time. Try creating a customer avatar so that you can look at it and know exactly who you’re doing it for.
- What Differentiates Your Offering? Usually, someone else is offering something like yours or close to it. But, there is always something that makes yours stand out from anyone else’s. What is that thing? How can you emphasize the thing that makes yours better, different, or special?
- How Will You Deliver It? It’s important to know the means by which you’ll get your product or service to your audience. Without knowing that, it will be difficult to succeed in your business. Work out these plans in advance.
- How Many Do You Need to Deliver for Success? One thing many business owners forget to do is figure out how many widgets they need to sell (or hours if you’re in a service business) to break even, and then how many to be successful. When you know this answer, you can break that down to how many a day you need to sell. That then helps inform the rest of your plans.
- What Is Your Timeline to Profitability and Success? Once you know all the other information, it will be easier to determine how long it will take for you to be successful. Knowing that info you can start from the date you want to show your first dollar profit, going backwards and entering in the actions you need to take each year, month, week, day and even – if you wish – hour of your day.
Someone once told me, “Plan your work, and work your plan!” I can’t quite remember who. Nonetheless, when you answer these questions seriously, you can easily create a workable daily plan of action. Before you know it, you’ll be successful because you have a clear plan.