You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t plan to succeed, you plan to fail.” To us, that speaks of the necessity of a business plan, which is part of Starting a Business 101. That’s why it is always startling when we hear from a business owner without a plan.
A business plan is the journey to success. It’s also a strategy for making a profit because if you don’t plan for profit, you probably won’t achieve any.
Planning is the mainframe of any business and you are truly sabotaging yourself if you open your doors without a business plan. Certainly, a great business plan isn’t gripping, awe-inspiring reading, but it is a prize winner when it comes to evaluating your direction and making good decisions. Beyond its use as an operational tool, it is a security blanket.
Your business plan can be the solid, dependable compass that will guide you to the right decisions. It’s not a pie-in-the-sky, crossed fingers dream. So, hope for the best, but always plan for the worst. A plan makes you focus, helps you adjust to changes, and shows you how to grow.
Over the years, we’ve taken part in launching a few businesses and we’ve always made sure there was a written plan. It wasn’t always pretty, but it included a marketing plan, risk factors, customer profiles, the competition, and a financial plan that forecasted when the business would make a profit. A good plan should reveal the pros and cons of your venture and help you see where guidance is needed to shore up weak areas.
If you don’t have a business plan, develop one. Start simple – on a legal pad. The time you spend drawing it up will be worth every second, ten times over. If you’re ready to get more sophisticated, there are several places online that have free templates of business plans.
Check out Entrepreneur magazine’s site for information on writing business plans.
Plan for your (continued) success today and you’ll be better prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow.