Developing a detailed business plan is a process frequently overlooked by many entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized business owners. Yet, it is probably the single most important plan that you will build for your business. A business plan defines your operating model and path to revenues. It outlines the promise to your customers and the principles you want your employees to follow in executing the plan.
“A good business plan becomes your road-map to navigating the market and an outline for your team to follow.”
The process begins with a detailed analysis of the market and competition. Identifying where and how you fit into the landscape can determine your level of success. This analysis should clearly identify your market niche, strategy, and elements that differentiation you from the competition.
The initial questions your plan should answer:
• How large is the market and what share you are targeting? • How you will service your customers? • Why you are better/ different than the competition? • How will you attract customers, where will they come from?
Your First Financial plan
Your initial financial forecast and projected budgets will establish performance expectations and validate the proposed opportunity. A detailed, conservative forecast of your expected revenues, expenses, operating budgets, cash flow needs, etc., will provide the best chances for you to succeed. Remember, “It is always less painful to fail on paper than with your own money”!
You now have a road map for your business and a financial plan to measure and track performance. What’s left is to establish the core values that will drive the behaviors and actions of your team. Core Values are defined as “guiding principles that dictate behavior and action”. They help companies determine if they are on the right path in fulfilling their goals, they provide an unwavering guide of what is right and wrong for their teams, and offer a promise to their customers. The core value statement is critical and identifies what customers can expect from you and your employees. It is a promise that is the foundation for establishing trust between company, employee and customer. Most experts will agree that trust is a primary factor in a customer’s buying decision.