Remember back to your high school days and the memory of being assigned the task of writing a 30 page term paper in one of your classes. If you were like most of your peers, the mere thought of this assignment brought tears to your eyes.
Fast forward to today. You are now an entrepreneur starting a business or seeking outside capital to grow your company. You realize with dread that you are going to have to write a business plan to advance your company forward. In fact, the mere thought of writing a business plan most likely conjures up memories of your high school days preparing term papers.
Don’t fear. Resist the urge to run. Yes, I admit that developing a plan is a lot of work. However, the business planning process has so much to teach you about your business and the opportunity in front of you that it is well worth the time and effort required to see the process through to the end.
Experience has taught entrepreneurs and small business owners that the benefits of the business planning process include:
1. Providing you a 360 degree view of your company, allowing you to examine its viability and potential for growth and success.
2. A business plan is powerful tool for ensuring that the founders and management team are committed to a common set of goals by forcing individuals to reconcile any differences they may have into a unified plan of attack.
3. A business plan is an excellent method of communicating your vision, mission, values and goals to the stakeholders that will help you launch and grow your business – suppliers, partners, customers, employees and board members.
4. Helps companies gain a more thorough understanding of the opportunities and challenges in their market and industry, and craft strategies and tactics that will directly respond to customer needs.
5. Your company has competition, and ultimately your success will be determined by how you set your company apart from that of your competitors. A business plan empowers you with valuable competitive insight and enables you determine how to differentiate your products, services and value proposition.
6. The better you understand your business the more effective you will be in creating the right management team for your company. The landscape is littered with companies with great products and huge markets that either didn’t make it or didn’t reach their potential because the management team lacked the appropriate skills, talent or experience to capitalize upon its opportunity.
7. A well thought through business plan will lay out a comprehensive strategy and time-line for implementation and operations of the company in the early and emerging stages of growth.
8. Allows you to examine “what-if” scenarios and create back-up plans should your Plan A turn out differently than you originally expected – a situation which happens quite frequently.
Enjoy the business planning journey. Take time to write a business plan that you are proud to put your name on. It is well worth the effort.