Here is a fast and easy step-by-step approach to planning your business. (Remember you are planning your business not simply producing a business plan)
Step 1: Current Situation – What is your starting point?
What is your current:
- product/service offering?
- market & competitors?
- marketing & sales methods?
- customer base?
- way of working (operations)?
- financial situation?
Hint: SWOT analysis is a straightforward but effective tool to help with this – effective if you incorporate your findings into your planning.
Step 2: How do you see your business, now and in the future?
* Vision: Looks to the future, (often) internal
Amazon: Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
* What products/services will you offer and where? Who will be your customers? What do you want to be known for?
* Values: Beliefs that guide the management of the business
Microsoft: As a company, and as individuals, we value integrity, honesty, openness, personal excellence, constructive self-criticism, continual self-improvement, and mutual respect …
* How will your beliefs make this happen?
* Purpose: Why does the business exist, external
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Cave Sustainable Architects: Our mission is to create beautiful spaces for people and planet through sustainable design.
* What unique product/service are you offering? Why will customers buy from you? What key customer desire will you satisfy?
Hint: Answer these questions to help create/review the vision, values, purpose statements for your business – also refer to your SWOT analysis
Step 3: What do you want to achieve?
– Statements of what the business or owner intends to achieve – business, personal e.g. five years from now …
– A goal is a dream with a deadline. Napoleon Hill
e.g. Prepare the company for sale at a value of £10m within 5 years
– A specific, measureable, achievable, realistic result to be attained within a time frame – S.M.A.R.T
Launch new subscription service by 31 Dec 13 to generate £100,000 p.a.
Achieve a utilisation of 85% by 31 Mar 14
Increase and maintain gross margin at 40% from 1 Sep 13
* Goals – What do you want to achieve from the business? How do you see yourself in the future? What will you gain?
* Objectives – What specific, measureable marketing & sales, operations & financial targets will you achieve? By when?
Hint: Create/review at least one goal and three objectives for your business (also refer to SWOT, Vision, Values, Purpose)
Step 4: How do you get there?
Strategies – How do you decide which to pursue?
– Focus on your customers. Who are they? What do they want? How do they buy? How will you sell?
– Focus on your sector. What strategies are your competitors pursuing? What trends is your sector facing?
– Focus on your business. What is working well and not so well within your business? What is critical to your business?
Concentrate on quality and exclusivity of product (not quantity) and price accordingly
Seek access to “movers & shakers” at highest level in the industry
Collaborate with partners & experts in key market areas
Package services into high value “products”
Use technology to challenge competitors
* Strategies – How will you manage the business for improvement? How will you develop market opportunities? How will you solve issues within the business?
Hint: Identify 3-5 key strategies for your business (also refer to SWOT, Vision, Values, Purpose, Goals & Objectives)
Step 5: What action will you take?
* Action Plans
– Actions & desired outcomes
– Identify key milestones
– Set deadlines & responsibilities
– Determine monitoring & measures of success
Action Plan: Communicate latest campaign to database via direct mail & telemarketing
(to contribute to Objective – increase sales from £X to £Y by Dec 2013)
Milestones: Prepare database; Produce direct mail; Organise telemarketing
Deadline – Database to be contacted by end of Sep 2013
Responsibility – Business Owner
Measurement – number of appointments, value of sales won
Summary: Complete campaign via direct mail / telemarketing by 30Sep 2013
* Action Plans – Focus on next 30-90 days
* Determine what you need to do, by when, to achieve your objectives and be clear about how this will contribute to your success.
* The implementation of the action plan should be meaningful enough to significantly contribute to the success of your business.
Hint: Identify 3-5 key action plans for your business (also refer to SWOT, Vision, Values, Purpose, Goals, Objectives & Strategies)
Step 6: How well will you do?
* Financial Forecasts
* Profit and Loss – What will you forecast for sales, costs & profitability
* Cash flow – What will your forecast cashflow be – money in, money out?
* Balance Sheet – What is the wealth of your business?
* Measures of Performance
* e.g. Customers , Operations, People, New Products …..
* Measure how Effectively Managing the Business – relate to business goals & objectives
* How well provide services
* How well operate the business
* Customer satisfaction, feedback, reviews, testimonials
* Repeat orders
* Staff performance, feedback
* Industry benchmarks
Hint: Complete / update financial forecasts and identify 3-5 key measures of performance for your business (also refer to SWOT, Vision, Values, Purpose, Goals, Objectives, Strategies and Actions)
Step 7: What have you accomplished?
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Need help planning your business? For starters, we can exchange and develop ideas – no charge, no strings. If you are willing to invest an hour of your time looking to the future of your busines then please contact me.