6 Easy Steps to a Simple Practical Business Plan
by Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
- Created: May 26, 2010, 6:58 pm
So you wonder whether you want a business plan for your business. You've heard that business plans are about raising money, perhaps, and it sounds like it might be hard to do. You don't have that MBA degree or CPA certification. So thank goodness, you don't need it. What a relief.
Here's my suggestion:
- Take some time to think about your business strategy. Think about what's unique about you, what you do best, and what you like to do. Think about what others want you do do. Then think about whom you want to sell to and what types of people. And apply strategic focus; think about what you're not doing. Remember, you can't do everything. Strategy is focus. Write it down, for yourself, as simple bullet points. Do just enough to help you remember. Leave it on your computer.
- Promise yourself you're going to have a review every month. Set the day for the review ahead of time.
- List your important assumptions.
- List important dates and deadlines; what is supposed to happen when. Consider your strategy as the long-term goals and directions, and these are steps to make that happen. Make a list you can manage, short and sweet, of key dates. Make sure you know who is responsible for each deadline.
- Do a sales forecast. Break it down into some meaningful units, even if they're like hours or days or trips for a service business, and average price and average cost per unit. Do it for 12 months.
- Do an expense budget. Include payroll, and include your own value, even if you're just taking a draw on profits.
Now that didn't take long, did it? Now you have a business plan. Be true to your promise to yourself and keep the schedule to review planned vs. actual results every month, and then you have a planning process.
And suddenly, without that much effort, you're managing your business better and controlling your own destiny. And see: it wasn't that hard.
About the Author
Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 44 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including The Plan As You Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press, 2008.
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