Create a Plan and Use it– #4 in the feature article series: “5 Ways to Simplify Your Business and Make More Money”

We may not be able to anticipate many things that will happen in life nor in our businesses, but we can be clear on the direction we want to go and how we will move in that direction. Whatever stage your business or career, there are certain things that you will want to think about and plan for in advance. I often see business owners writing down ideas and to-dos on sticky notes (I’m guilty too!). That’s fine when you have a system to immediately transfer those ideas instead of letting them pile up or worse- losing them.

For those ideas that pop up in the midst of other activities, a sticky note may suffice, but for your important plan to start or grow your business you need something that holds your most important plans and strategies in one spot. Am I talking about a complete, formal business plan? Only if you plan to seek funding. There are many templates, resources and organizations that can assist you to develop one for little or no financial investment (e.g. SCORE).

If you’re not planning to seek out funding from investors, you still need a plan to start or grow a business that simplifies things and that supports you in increasing your income. Here are some tips to get you started:

What elements need to be included in your plan?

Your plan can be as “big picture” or detailed as supports you in executing your plan successfully. Regardless of your level of detail, there are a handful of necessary elements to include in your plan to support you in defining and directing your efforts. At minimum, a useful and motivating plan needs to include: your overall vision for the business in the next 1-5 years, your top 2-5 goals for the current year toward fulfilling that vision, your core strategies for reaching those goals and at least one milestone for each strategy (e.g. if a strategy is partnering with complementary businesses to collaborate, a milestone may be to host a joint event or offer a joint service package).

What should your plan look like?

That depends on your particular type of business (e.g. product or service), your learning style (e.g. visual, auditory, kinesthetic), and personality. If you’re a creative, visual type you may depict your plan using images and key words (See the Right-Brain Business Plan); if you’re a more analytical, linear type you may like a simple outline structure. Also, it can be as long or short a document as is needed. I offer a variety of options for my clients and members including a one-page plan, a 3-page plan or development of a customized version based on their needs. When it comes to what your plan looks like and length it really depends on what you like and what best serves your progress.

What should you do with your plan?

So, you have a plan, now what? First, you need to use your plan. It is not written in stone. It is your personal plan and you own it. That means it is not “against the rules” to change it as you go. It will need to be updated if you decide to modify your goals or strategies based on results or new information. Use it as your go-to reference point to keep your plan fresh in your mind and to support you in making business decisions. And don’t forget to check off completion of your goals or milestones.

Second, keep your plan visible and easily accessible. If your plan is buried in a folder on your computer or in a pile on your desk it may not serve you well. Instead, you might post it on your bulletin board by your desk or on the inside cover of a binder or pad folio you carry. Keeping it handy supports you in staying focused on your most important priorities and in tune with your progress toward your goals.

 

Do you have additional suggestions for informal business plans based on your own experience? Please let me know in the comments below or send me an email.

For assistance with creating a plan for your business or to learn more about how I can assist you, please contact me today to sign up for a FREE 45-minute Discovery Coaching Session.