Writing a business plan may seem scary, but it doesn’t take that long when you have a solid framework.
December is National Business Plan Month. It is a chance to remind business owners the value of having a business plan and to help busy business owners to get one written or get it updated.
For most business owners, it is all about how to amplify growth, increase profitability, and create a business that doesn’t need the owner 24/7. That last part is primarily a sticking point for those that have run a company for a while and feel they are a slave to their business. The good news is that building a company that can run without you is possible.
So, let’s get started on how to write a business plan in 60 minutes to amplify your growth in 2020!
How will your business plan be used?
The first thing is getting clear on what the business plan is for.
If it is just for you and your company so you can amplify your growth… Great! Keep it simple. That is what we are going to cover here. A quick and easy business plan in plain English that explains what you want and how you are going to get there.
If you plan to use it to attract investors or obtain bank loans, then you may need to make it more formal and put more time into making sure it is understandable to someone who is not as familiar with your business.
Understanding the Framework of the 4 Pillars of Successful Business Management
Pillar 1: “Planning”. This is where you assess short-term needs with your long-term goals.
Pillar 2: “Marketing and Selling”. This is where you get clear on your sales goals and what marketing will drive sufficient numbers to hit those goals.
Pillar 3: “Management”. This includes all your staffing, the workflow processes and the tools your business uses to get the work done.
Pillar 4: “Financial Controls”. This provides structure, so you are a good money manager keeping your thumb on the heartbeat of the company.
Pillar 1 – Planning
Spend 5 minutes writing out in plain English, what do you want to build? What is your mission with this business? What are the core values and the culture you want to develop? This section creates the 10,000-foot view, so you get a clearer understanding of what you want to accomplish with the business.
It’s okay if this is messy. Just get started. Type or write what comes to mind. It’s all about getting a little something down on paper. Later, you can make it better, so don’t get caught up with any one particular portion.
Next, spend 5 minutes considering and writing out your short-term needs (hint, cashflow is usually on this list) as well as your long-term goals for the business. This will help you build a plan that not only helps immediate needs but also helps ensure you are creating the right framework for the long-term needs whether that is growing and scaling the business or positioning for eventual sale.
Pillar 2 – Marketing and Sales
Spend 10 minutes writing out your sales plan. What are you selling and how many do you need to sell to hit your quarterly goals? Start with what you need this quarter. Do you need to sell 25 widgets? 50 widgets? Or 100 widgets? And at what price point? “Sales” is the act of selling the widget or converting a prospect into a paying customer. Next, identify how you make the sale? Does it happen online? Via human interaction? Get clear on the type of sale, and how many purchases you need so you can then plan out the marketing.
Next, spend 10 minutes working on your marketing plan. It is the job of marketing to bring the right number of prospects or “buying units” to you. This means getting clear on your ideal clients or buyers, or influencers to your buyers. How do they gather information to decide on what to buy?
Your marketing plan should include both back-end marketing activities, marketing to people who know you, like you and trust you; such as networking, newsletters, emails, messaging, etc.; as well as front-end marketing activities, marketing to people who don’t yet know you, like you and trust you; such as online advertising, seminars, webinars, print ads, etc. Think through how many leads you believe you will get as a result of each type of marketing activity you want to do. Next, brainstorm a few marketing campaign or themes you could use to keep your marketing fresh and new. For instance, “New Year, New You” or “Give the Gift of Love, Give a Referral”, etc.
Marketing will be an area that you will come back to over time, but just 10 minutes of focused activity, writing out your ideas will help you tremendously!
Pillar 3 – Management
Spend 10 minutes on staffing and who you need to hire in the next four quarters. Get excited about growing your business so you can have others on the team to help you get it all done. Many business owners know they need to hire multiple people, but the question is, “who do you need to hire first?” Many find walking through a GAP analysis helps to assess how important a position is with how well it is being done currently to prioritize which position needs to be filled first.
Finally, in this section, start jotting out what you need to do to prepare for the person’s onboarding. This generally means mapping out some vital tasks they will need to learn in their first week and note how you are going to teach the person how to do the job the way you want it done.
Spend 5 minutes on Work Flow Processes. First, describe in plain English how you currently do what you do. For some, this is easier to map out in a diagram format than in words. Essentially you break down what you do in about 5-8 big categories. Then, write out the top 3-5 improvements you would like to make in the next year.
Finally, write out what needs to happen to make those improvements become a reality. (Hint, often this will include documenting the policies and procedures on how to service clients or fill orders so that the business starts running more streamlined with systems).
Spend 5 minutes on the tools your team needs to do an excellent job for you. Will you need more space? More furniture? More equipment? Do you need to replace some equipment or software? Is it possible to outsource some duties so your team can focus on what they are good at?
Management is a vast category so just get started on some of these points, and they will help form the foundation for a great business plan.
Pillar 4 – Financial Controls
Spend 10 minutes mapping out what financial controls you have in place and what you will need as your business grows. Who is on your financial team to help you be a good money manager? Do you have a great CPA? What about a bookkeeper? If you are a more significant business, you will likely want an outsourced CFO on your team until you are ready to bring the job in house. Part of your business plan should include goals to meet with these people regularly and leverage their know-how to help you better plan for profitability.
You will also want to set your goals to regularly review your Lag Metrics, such as Balance Sheet, P&L, Budget Variance Report, Accounts Payable Reports, Accounts Receivable Reports, etc.; as well as your Lead Metrics, Sales Reports, Pre-sales Reports, Marketing Reports, etc. These will not only tell you where you have been (lag metrics) but also where you are going (lead metrics). If you are not already getting and reviewing these reports, make it part of the business plan that the goal of the business is to be reviewing the reports and using the data within the next six months.
Putting It All Together
Writing a business plan is about getting clarity on where you are and where you want to be, then creating a plan for what you will do each quarter to help you get to that future goal.
The biggest hurdle is getting started. Use the above to give you some starting points.
For more help on how to build a business plan to amplify your growth check out our upcoming webinar call Amplify Your 2020 Growth with a Quick and Easy Business Plan.