Developing Your First Business Plan

90 percent of businesses fail to execute their business plan. Apparently, lots of people invest the time and energy necessary to draft a business plan, but don’t follow through.

Why do so many business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs fail to execute?

To find the answer, let’s consider the process of developing a business plan.  If your process is simple and focused, its more likely you will produce a plan that’s easily executed.

Whether you are writing your first business growth plan or revising a current one, the tips shared below can help.  Use them to help you avoid common pitfalls and create a plan you can actually stick to.

1. Investigate the Competition

Before you begin creating a business growth plan, do a little market research: Do you know who your competitors are and how they show up in the market?  What kinds of products and services do they offer? Who do they serve? To find out, visit direct and indirect competitor websites to learn what makes them unique. Then spend time on their social media business pages to see if and how they engage with customers and understand how their customers are using their products and / or services.

You might also think more about your industry as a whole.  What are its strengths and weaknesses? Where is there room for innovation?

With this information, you can analyze how your business, product and or service meets prospects needs.  What might you need to improve or keep the same?

2. Know Your ‘It Factor’

Now that you know your industry and your competitors, take some time to understand your it factor.  One key to growth is building a base of raving fans.  Take some time to understand what is it that makes your business unique.  Why do customers buy from you?  What do you offer that makes them want to tell others about your product or service?  When you understand what’s special about your business and how that meets your customer’s needs, you can plan a strategy to accelerate growth.

3. Get Goal Specific

One weakness of most business plans is that goals are often ill-defined. Writing you want to be number one in your industry in five years sounds like a long-term goal, but it’s pretty vague.

Be sure to include well defined short and long term goals.  In their book, The Four Disciplines of Execution, authors Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling outline a formula for ensuring goals are realistic and measurable: X (current) to Y (goal state) by when (date you will reach goal).  Good examples of long-term goals include increasing your market share from 2% to 30% by the end of next year or boosting revenue from $120,000 to $1,000,000 within three years.

To be effective, your business growth plan must also include short term business goals. These goals might include increasing sales in the current quarter or entering a new market.

4. Outline Real Action Steps

Once you have outlined specific short and long term goals, you’ll want to plug in the individual actions you and your team must take to reach those goals.  This is a key part in writing a business growth plan you can actually stick to.  Poorly written strategic plans make it difficult to execute your plan.

Think of your business growth plans as the road map for where the business is going.  Goals are the end point of the journey. The steps in between show you the path you will take to get there.

For instance, Keep in mind that an action plan is a living breathing document. You must be open to tweaking it as you track your progress.

A Business Growth Plan Can Show You the Way Forward

Creating and sticking to a business plan almost guarantees progress toward your business goals. Studies indicate business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders who work from a strategic plan achieve their goals six times faster than those who don’t.  A good plan gives you the step-by-step breakdown you need to reach your business goals.

Ready to move beyond the strategic plan? Learn about what else you can do to continue growing your business the smart way.

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