Start With The End in Mind
How important is your business plan? It’s EVERYTHING, and it’s dead easy to get wrong. How to write a business plan isn't rocket science, but it is the *most* important thing you have to do within your business, along with the ongoing monthly, quarterly and yearly planning that the plan creates. A great, easy to follow business plan is exactly what the majority of businesses lack and it’s exactly what we’re going to put right.
A plan lays out what’s important within your business, and what’s important should never get sacrificed for what’s urgent, which is what all too often happens within businesses. Can you think of a business owner that you know – they've been flat out busy for the last five years but they just seem to be doing the same as they were five years ago, or aren't that much further ahead? Well, that’s because they've been working on the urgent rather than the important stuff that really builds their wealth and their business.
I’d suggest that you read through the next few blogs once or twice, and then you set aside a few hours in your diary to work through the whole process. Treat this as an appointment with your most important client…you!
Also ensure that you understand where you sit within the market place. Look at your direct competitors and map out how you compare on things like quality, price, range of services, responsiveness, and delivery times, and ask yourself if this is where you want to be. How much would you pay to have your car valeted? If you go to Hyde Park in London you can have it done for £8000, and you’ll have to wait seven months for the privilege, or you can even take the upgraded option which is £17,000. The price you charge depends on the services you offer and your target market.
The next four steps are about developing a strategy and plan to really give you focus. I’d also suggest that you involve others who have a vested interest in your business success. That could be business partners, your senior management, spouses or life partners – whoever is important to you. Ask them to challenge you and offer potential solutions.
Draw this out on a flip chart pad or on a large piece of paper. It’s really important to understand why you’re in business – having a huge business while you’re making loads of money and working 100 hours a week isn’t a great business plan. There are no prizes for richest person in the grave yard, so it’s important to really get an understanding of what lifestyle you want, so you can really nail it down.
In five years time what do you want your life to look like? Think about where you’re living, what type of house do you have? How many bedrooms are there? How is it all furnished? What does your garden look like? Do you have outbuildings? And pets? What about an orchard, a lake or a swimming pool?…You get the picture. Make this a really rich image and note *everything* down.
Now think about your working week. What does that look like? How many holidays are you taking? How are you getting there (and remember that this is in five years so you can set whatever target you want). How many long weekends are you taking and which destinations are you travelling to? What cars are you driving? What colour are they? What do the interiors look like? Do you have any other vehicles like a motorbike, Jet Ski, or track day car?
And what else is going on? Have you written a book? Do you have a property portfolio? Have you had children? Or maybe you’re sending the ones you already have to private school? Perhaps you've learnt to fly, or you’re doing more of a hobby that you love? Really get a feel for what you want and put down absolutely everything that you can think of.
Now, what does your business need to do to provide you with that standard of living (and remember that this stuff doesn't have to be paid for outright – although it can of course. What profits do you need to generate? What turnover is required? And what staffing levels? What premises do you need and do you own them? Do you need vehicles and loading bays? Think about everything that your business will require at that point.
And now write out where you are today in terms of both your lifestyle and your business, and then where you’ll need to be in roughly three years to achieve all the areas you've already got on the sheet.
You've now completed the first part of how to write a business plan
By Alan S Adams