Keep your plan short, sweet – and flexible
Starting a business is a time of high creativity. You have many exciting ideas for your business. However, at some point, it is important to get the basics on paper – to write a formal business plan.
Every business needs a business plan, whether you are running a one-person operation or intending to run a conglomerate; whether you’re working from home or internationally.
A plan will be used to guide your efforts, to raise financing and to rally your team of advisors, employees and vendors. By simply writing a short plan you’ll automatically separate yourself from the majority of new business owners who don’t plan – and subsequently fail.
Because your business plan is a summary of the decisions you’ve made and the actions you want to take, you shouldn’t try to write the plan until you’ve decided on a product or service, conducted market research, identified your preferred business structure and created a business vision.
The ideal plan presents the next three years of your business. It is short and concise (ten pages) and written in simple and plain language.
A typical business plan includes a bunch of sub-plans, including an executive summary (what your business does, who owns it and who it will serve), a marketing and sales plan, financial plan (cash flow forecast, projected income statement, margins, break-even point and start-up budget), business structure (corporation, sole proprietor or partnership), people plan (for recruiting, training and motivating employees), operations plan and any technology requirements.
Don’t panic if your small business doesn’t evolve exactly as planned. Be prepared to adapt to unforeseen events or changes like new competitors, new technology or new customer trends. Be true to your business plan objectives but be flexible in the way you achieve them.