Why Use a Living Business Plan?
With the end of the year in sight, many of us are thinking about 2010 and what we want for and from our businesses. As entrepreneurial small business owners, we are not content to hunker down and hope for the best. If you follow tweets on Twitter or talk to people at networking events, you hear enthusiasm, reluctance, and musings about what is in store with the economy still looking grim.
So, what keeps us from using our business plan regularly? I’ve noticed in coaching entrepreneurs and small business owners that writing and reviewing their business plan takes time they would rather be using to meet with prospects, strategic alliance partners, or do product/service development. Yes, it takes time to find out what your market needs the most right now. And for some of us, analyzing our financials is about as much fun as having a root canal. And…there are some who just come undone while writing out their goals.
May I suggest a different point of view? Converting your current business plan into a living business plan makes it more palatable. Even easier to use! This is the in-house, dog-eared, marked up, easy-to-pull-up file (on paper or on your computer) that you look at on a quarterly basis. Imagine you have such a pulse on your business that you can respond to your market, your industry, even your life on a moment’s notice!
Where do I begin? Start with the basic outline and include:
- Executive Summary-Provides the direction and purpose of your business
- Goals and Objectives-List your 3 month action plan of succinct, realistic, measurable goals and how you plan on achieving them
- Services and/or Products Offered-List what you are really offering and which of these are your real money-makers
- Target market-Describe your ideal client. Has this person changed since you founded your business?
- Marketing Strategies-There are so many possiblities and this is where you identify which of the strategies you are using. You may need to give yourself more than two quarters to see how effective they are.
- Financials-Using a profit and loss report and a balance summary, analyze how your cash flow is increasing, decreasing, or staying flat. It can be a great way to see hard evidence about how your business is performing.
Notice what is working and what is not working. Asking questions about what are your real moneymakers, cutting costs, or making changes becomes clearer. By reviewing each quarter, you get the opportunity to intervene when something is not working or to give yourself a pat on the back.