Your business plan is one of the most important tools you can use to develop your small business. It provides the spark, the power, the very fusion of your ideas, your actions, and your values that are embedded in your business. Michael Gerber in The E-Myth Revisited, talks about the transition from technician to business owner. A living business plan is part of how you work on your business.  

Sometimes writing a business plan is an ordeal. Looking for funding requires a specialized type of business plan writing which involves a lot of detail. However, the living business plan does not have to be as formal. It can contain mission and vision statements, goals, services and products, target market, marketing strategies, and your financial information. So how many entrepreneurs actually review their business plans on a regular basis? Not so many, according to experts like Debra Streeter of www.allbusiness.com. It gives you a chance to think strategically about your business. Where are you going? What makes that direction more important than any other? What steps do you need to get there?

What was the real benefit of evaluating and possibly re-writing your business plan? It gives you a chance to examine if your vision is still the same for your business. Our businesses constantly evolve as we grow and learn more about ourselves and our area of expertise. Sometimes the vision changes too. Another area that changes is our goals. We can discover new trends, feedback from our clients/customers, economic conditions, new tools, and personal interests. Focusing on where you are right now supports where you will be in three to five years while knowing exactly how your business is performing on a quarterly basis.

Consider these questions as you review your business plan:

  • Who is your ideal client or customer?
  • What products or services are producing the most activity? The most revenue?
  • How are your financials trending?
  • What is supporting your growth?
  • How do you get in your own way?
  • What needs to be eliminated?
  • What is beneficial about your current business model?
  • What is your next step?

When you go through this process every quarter (or at least two times a year), you know exactly what is working well for your small business. Startups benefit because the process shows how your idea is working in real life. You catch problems before they overwhelm you.

So, create a living business plan. You will thank yourself!

*Want to participate in a live conversation about living business plans? You have two options:

1. Power Up Your Business Plan: Using Action, Goals, and Measuring To Your Advantage! When: Thursday, June 11, 2009 Time:  6:00pm-8:00pm Where:  NAWBO Boston, 201 Jones Road, Waltham, MA Cost:  Free for members, $25 for non-members

2. Featured Business Guide on Twitter #smallbizchat #smallbizchat is a conversation on Twitter led by Melinda Emerson (www.melindaemerson.com) , AKA @smallbizlady. During #smallbizchat, we will be talking about how to develop and implement a living business plan. We will cover tips and strategies to keep your business plan from being a dust collector on your shelf and making it a tool for goal setting, taking action, and measuring your progress throughout the year. When:  Wednesday, June 17, 2009 Time:  8:00pm-9:00pm Where:  On Twitter (If you don’t have an account but want to check this out, create an account on www.twitter.com This is an easy process and free to join. Then go to Search (in sidebar) and type in #smallbizchat You will join the conversation in real-time.) Cost:  There is no cost for this event.

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