A business plan is a powerful tool for keeping focus and driving energy to your business growth. Sure, you can get to where you want to go without a GPS, by driving the streets, turning this way and that, but having a set of directions is likely to get you to your destination that much quicker. It may even be more enjoyable! The same is true for a business plan.
Many of us will be familiar with the concept of a “business plan” if we had to approach financial investors at the time we started our business. But for many more of us, engaged in consulting services, offering business services from home, or other types of businesses, we may just make it by without any formal pre-written pathway. So let’s take a moment to really look at what a business plan is, and why planning can be very powerful.
What is a Business Plan
The internet is teeming with business plan templates and many can be very helpful. The formal definition of a business plan is a document that includes business goals, and a plan for how to achieve and measure those goals going forward. We like to think of a business plan as a living document that allows you to sketch out a growth trajectory in whatever way makes sense to you, or your investors. It should contain some concrete goals that are definable and measurable, as well as your strategy for meeting your objectives. As far as what this looks like, the opportunities are endless. You can draft it out as a flow chart, a mind map or vision board. You can list it out in a Word Document, or create something more concrete with values, goals and strategies laid out. It can take any form you would like, with the basic premise that it accomplishes two things.
A Business Plan Projects Growth
We can all rest on our laurels, but true business success comes when we look towards growth and potential. Ask yourself the blue sky question: where do I want to be in the next year? what income do I want to be earning? what specific goals do I have for my business? Hone in on the passion, desire and determination that started you on this path in the first place and don’t be afraid to dream big. The first part of business planning is to get what’s in your head out of your head and start materializing it in the here and now.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to take an afternoon off of the regular day-to-day. This sounds luxurious but major companies hold planning retreats all the time! Get out of your everyday space and give yourself a mini-retreat. Brew a pot of tea, find a comfy spot and get out a pad of paper and a pen. Allow yourself to dream for the first little while; ground yourself in your business’s core values and then let loose the imagination!
A Business Plan Provides You with Actionable Tasks to Achieve Your Goals
Take your blue sky vision and break it down into your actionable tasks. If you want to double your income in the next two years – great! Now how will you go about doing that, in small steps. Perhaps you can set revenue goals that track this growth monthly. Start where you want to go and then work backward to today. What are the steps along that path?
Give yourself mini-goals, within your larger goals and create something visual that can motivate you along the way. Maybe you want to grab yourself a white board and at the start of each month, write a new goal. Think of ways you can take what your plan says and get it to jump out into your everyday life. How can you create not just a plan, but a plan that lives and breathes right along with you?
Business planning can be a fun process, and it should be an opportunity for you to zero in on the things that make you happy, the path you want to walk down and how exactly you might get there. Once you have your document, in whatever form or shape it takes, be sure to take yourself back there often. It is not only a way forward, it is cobblestone for you to get there.
Here are some fun resources for business planning.
Tell us, do you have a business plan? How did you write it? If you don’t yet have one, have we inspired you to get started?