Leadership January 08, 2013By: Anthony Pollino

business plan chalkboard

A Business Plan Keeps You Focused.

An actionable business plan is one of the cornerstones of a successful small business. It is where you test your idea to see if it is viable in the marketplace. If it isn’t, the business plan process will help you create a marketable product.

A plan keeps you grounded so that you don’t get caught up in the lofty dream of being an entrepreneurial millionaire in less than a year. It keeps you focused and clearly defines your objectives, so that your business will be a long term success.

Developing a business plan also helps you identify potential problems in your startup before they begin.

What’s In A Business Plan?

The details of a business plan can vary based on the industry or unique needs of the company. In general, every business plan contains these key elements:

Executive Summary is a brief description of the key elements of your business strategy. It is written last and gives a snapshot of the elements contained within the plan.

Industry and Company Description outlines the industry in which your business will operate and should include a description of how your company will operate within that industry.

Product or Service you are offering. Be detailed and thoughtful here. Explain why you are offering this product/service and the benefits a customer will receive.

Market Analysis determines your customer base, their key demographics and how to reach them.

Competitive Analysis is where you examine how you stack up against the competition. What can you learn from them and what needs can you fulfill that that they are not?

Marketing and Sales outlines everything from advertising, web design, promotions, public relations, product pricing and everything in between.

Operations and Management covers your organizational structure, job descriptions, corporate culture, office/retail locations, inventory, office and production equipment needs, suppliers and a myriad of other operational factors.

Financial Plan includes your detailed financial statements, financial requirements, proposed or secured funding sources, projected profits and losses etc…

The Modern Business Plan Is Flexible and Responsive.

A business plan is not a crystal ball. It cannot account for all aspects of the rapidly changing market. Nor can it predict the affect that technology will have on your industry.

Many startups fail because entrepreneurs do not adjust their business plans when the need arises.

We don’t suggest that you adjust your business strategy on a whim. Instead, shift the way you perceive a business plan.

Typically, plans are mapped out in 3 to 5 year increments. Modern markets change yearly, sometimes even monthly. It can be a mistake to adhere to a business plan that no longer reflects the current needs of your industry. A successful business plan is as flexible as the market is dynamic.

View your business plan as a living document that you adjust based on the data you collect from various sources. Allow it to be responsive to changes in the market.

Keep your business and yourself flexible and adjust to industry and consumer needs accordingly.

We know you can’t stay plugged into all of the data that’s out there about your industry or your competitors. That’s why our Executives as a Service are here. We are not small business consultants. We are small business leaders, here to help you evolve your business to the next level. Let us help you rework your business strategy so that you stay a cutting edge player in your market.

If you’ve had any business plan slip ups or successes, please share them in the comments or chat with us on Facebook.