Has someone ever asked you that tricky question, “where do you see yourself in 5 years”? Well, if you’ve been looking for a new job recently, you probably have.
It’s a hard one to answer, especially for those of us who struggle to plan our weekends, let alone the upcoming years.
Well, whether you have a thought out answer ready for that one or not, in business people are going to want to see your forward planning. On top of that showing your organisational skills can be essential in gaining the approval of investors and customers.
Whether you are an established company or you are about to start your business from scratch, having a plan for the immediate as well as long-term future is both good practice and necessary for the success of your firm.
The importance of a well formulated business plan is demonstrated by the fact that companies with one double their rate of growth, compared to those that don’t have any defined strategy.
Whatother advantages are there in spending your precious time putting together this document?
Articulating your short term and long term goals and writing them down will give you and you team something to focus on and guide you when you face unexpected challenges and lose direction.
More importantly, a solid business plan will help to create a common perception with employees, making sure that everyone involved has the same vision for the company.
Here are seven tips that in our experience, will help when developing and implementing a business plan.
Get To Know Your Company
Building a business plan is an excercise in getting to know your business. You’ll need to be able to answer questions not only about what the company is, but what it does and why. What does the business represent, and how can this be communicated to your audience?
This is your oppourtunity to establish a concrete vision, goals, mission and values.
This is made simpler by the fact that a business plan must be written assuming the reader knows nothing about your compay – forcing you to drop all assumptions and completely explain what you mean.
Even if you never present your business plan to anyone, you will develop a profound understanding of you current position and will find choosing a direction to take, easier.
New hires will also benefit from this impoertant document, as it should give an instant understanding of the mentality and culture of your company.
Know your enemy
“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of hundred battles”- Sun Tzu.
The Chinese philosopher’s advice remains true today. Knowing your enemy as well as you know yourself gives you a major competitive advantage.
Investing in research is always a good idea. Knowing your peers and competitors and the direction they are going in will help you to define your goals and get inspiration for new ideas. Better yet, watching your foes closely helps you to avoid the mistakes they made.
Include research on competitors in your business plan.
Know your people
Your business plan should explain the duties of each person in your company.
Know your products and services
Putting together your business plan also forces your to explain each of your products and services.
Describe in details, your product or service. What is your unique selling point, and why? What distinguishes your from your competition?
Explain what problem your product solves and how it improves the lifes of the customer – don’t just explain what your product does.
Know your strategy
The business plan is also a place to lay out your marketing and sales strategy 🙂
This will help you identifying and evaluating current strategies and come up with ideas for new ones.
Look back on what has worked in the early stages of your business, should you have started already – as well as what hasn’t worked.
Taking a critical look at your marketing methods at this high level will help you determine where to focus your energy, be it PPC, social media, content-marketing or something else entirely.
It’s also worth including any other data you have collected so far, especially metrics relating to sales trends and customer-acquisition.
Know your Financials
It’s essential to demonstrate financial nouse in your business plan.
Explain your current and past financial situation and explain how your will manage cash flow. Demonstrate your knowledge of your assets, debts and cash flow and show your budget and how you plan to allocate resources.
Last but not least, create an executive summary that describes where are you now, where are you going and what will bring successes or defeat.
In conclusion, a business plan is about understanding your business, your competitors, your team, your product, your strategy and your financials – and is as much about demonstrating this knowledgeto others as it is about clarifying this knowledge internally.
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