Thanks to everyone for all your wonderfully supportive comments on all the growth week posts! A little later today I’ll be posting this week’s business buzz with a focus on more articles about helping you grow your business. (Plus a few links to peoples’ responses to growth week – so if you were inspired to share your thoughts on growth on your blog, feel free to post the link in the comments so I can include it.)
But this morning, I wanted to share one more post that answers the question, where do you go from here?
Hopefully you’ve been completely inspired by growth week and are ready to build your business. If that’s the case, then it’s time to make a plan. A business plan can be a powerful tool – it can serve as a roadmap for your business and help clarify what you’re really trying to do.
One of the reasons that business’s create a plan is to secure funding, but that’s probably not the case for most of you. Instead, you should view your business plan as your personal guidebook. It doesn’t have to be formal or fancy. You can handwrite it in a notebook, or type it and have it professionally bound. (Or bind it yourself if you’re so inclined.) The most important thing is the act of putting your plan on paper and making the commitment to think about the future of your business.
So what should your business plan include?
- Your vision and mission statement. This should be more than just your tag-line. It should be your core purpose, your reason for being in business.
- Your goals. This isn’t typically included in the seeking financing type of business plan, but if you’re writing your own plan for growth, it’s critical. Where do you want your business to be in one year? In two years? In five? Having a clear understanding of this will help when it comes to making decisions about market and business strategy.
- Your market strategy. This includes the types of products you make, what methods you’ll use to produce them, and what venues you’ll sell them in. Even if this part seems obvious, it’s still a good idea to get it on paper. You might see connections you missed otherwise. You might also pursue different market strategies for different groups of products, so it’s good to have an understanding of that.
- Your business strategy. How will your business actually make money? What kind of business model are you actually using? This is also the area where you’ll dive into how your business is structured, if you need employees, and other details along those line.
- Your financials. If you’ve never taken a look at your numbers before, this section is critical. Don’t skip it because it seems scary to you. Without a thorough understanding of your finances, your business can’t grow. Start by calculating your business expenses, and how much money you’d like to make in a year. Take a hard look at the profit margins and pricing of your products. Then figure out how many products you need to sell each month. Is this realistic? If you’re not selling that many products a month, what can you do to get there? And how will it change your bottom line and your previous calculations?
If you’ve never taken the time to write a plan for your business, now is the time. Carve out a few hours this weekend or over the next week and put your thoughts on paper. If you think you don’t have time, keep this in mind – if you just keep doing the daily tasks for your business, without ever stopping to think about the big picture, it’s unlikely to grow. Take the time to develop a realistic strategy for business growth and it will pay off in the long run.