Here are some tips to help in creating your business plan.
Create a Vision
It's common to focus so much on the details of planning a business that you forget what you're planning for.
Build a Roadmap
Create a clear vision and some values for your company. Also, create a mission statement and use it to define short-term goals and priorities. This can help guide you in your business journey.
Don't Ignore Your Customers
This may sound obvious, but take the time to learn about your customers. Build your business plan around their needs and wants.
Make a Budget & a Plan
You can't create a solid business plan without a budget and a financial forecast. However, budget can only be realistic if all other things in your plan are too. Therefore, research your industry, customers, competitors and market conditions before creating your budget.
Expect the Unexpected
Every business plan needs some room to allow for unexpected changes. Part of this involves creating budgets and marketing plans with some built-in flexibility. However, with doing that, you should also accept that you may have to change or even leave business practices that worked well in the past.
Be Prepared to Take Risks
Creating a business plan isn't about avoiding risk. It is about understanding and managing risk. That is why a good business plan prepares for possible challenges by having different solutions for meeting those challenges. There's a difference between a calculated risk and recklessness. Your plan can help you make that distinction.
Get a Second (or Third) Opinion
The most experienced entrepreneur can still benefit from a different point of view. Even if you're the only person involved in your business, find someone who can look over your plan neutrally and point out possible weaknesses you may have missed.
Learn From Your Competitors
If you assume your company will be the only business in the city, or if you fail to take existing competitors seriously, you can create problems for your business. Your competitors can be a great source of information about what works and what doesn't so learn from them.
Don't Forget What Makes You Unique
Looking at your competition may help but don't make your business after them. After all, you're in business to beat the competition. Learn from your competitors' strengths, but also use their weaknesses to improve your own business plan.
What's the Point?
Building a business involves hard work and struggle. However, when you set goals in your business plan, include some real rewards that are more than satisfaction of a job well done.
Don't Skip the Plan
Of course, the biggest mistake is not creating a business plan in the first place. Planning is hard work and there's no guarantee it will make your business succeed. However, a good plan is still the best way to turn your vision into a realistic business.
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"I really didn't imagine that a single location our size would afford health benefits. Most of my staff have been here since the beginning and I think one of the main reasons is the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan."
Eric Ho, Owner - Little Fox Bakehouse