- If you've been in the business world for a while, then you definitely know the importance of creating a business plan before starting out.
- However, simply writing down a beautiful business plan is not enough to get your business up, running, and gaining sales.
- There's loads of information out there about how to write a business plan, but once it's finished you may be thinking... now what do I do?
- Read on to find out the top 5 things you should do after you write your business plan to make it actionable.
Editor's Update 06/07/20:
Why is it important to have a business plan? A business plan helps you establish a strong ground on which to start and grow your business. A business plan gives you a much clearer sense of direction..sure you might take a few detours and may still get lost along the way, but your business plan will help you get back on track.
The process for creating a business plan will be different for every business, but here are the key steps to make a business plan that covers all of the important details:
- Identify and understand your goals
- Research the competitor market
- Define your brand and what makes your business unique
- Understand your audience
- Identify any roadblocks and how you'll navigate through them
How do you prepare a business plan? A typical business plan contains all or a combination of the following sections:
- Executive summary
- Description of the business
- Market research analysis
- Description of organisation and management
- A description of service or product line
- Sales and marketing strategy
- Funding requirements
You’ve written out your business plan. Congratulations!
Maybe it’s really detailed. It could be full of optimistic financial forecasts for the next two years. Or perhaps you’ve used the Lean Canvas method and intend to fly by the seat of your pants.
Regardless, at this point, your business plan is all theory and pie in the sky. The onus is now on you to make it actionable.
Your business plan should not be static. Your business plan should be a working document that you can follow, edit, and change as required.
You have a lot of work ahead of you. So here are the 5 key things you should do next after you write your business plan.
1. Get help
It sounds like simple advice. I guarantee that you won’t be able to do everything on the list. If you lack the knowledge and experience to understand your sales numbers or have no idea how to advertise, find someone who does. You need to employ the experience of other professionals who can offer advice and guidance. Not only that, if you need technical work done (like building a website or an email funnel) or creative work (like logo design and copywriting), you’re going to need to hire someone to do those things for you.
Unless you plan to tackle all of them yourself, these things cost money. If you don’t have a lot of funds or are bootstrapping, you may need to get creative. Can you offer your services in exchange for someone else’s expertise? Contra deals are a great way to get things done for free. It’s like the 2018 version of bartering. Whether you need to hire someone to get some work done or ask someone for advice, there are a lot of platforms like this one to help you get some work done on a limited budget.
2. Make sure it connects to your purpose
Why do you want to do what you do? If you cannot answer that question each and every time someone asks, that’s an issue. There will be times when you get stuck on something difficult. Your WHY is a way to keep you focused when things seem to be at their worst. You should get in the habit of connecting everything back to your WHY.
Your WHY is the reason for your business. It’s the driving motivation behind everything that you do. Do you know what your WHY is? If not, you should start thinking about it. Your WHY should be the foundation for everything that you do. It can help you get through the tough times and keep you grounded during adversity. It’s what sets you apart from your competition. You may be in the same industry, but your WHY is what makes your business special.
3. Begin to test and measure
Begin to test and measure your assumptions. Your plan is untested and still just a concept. Now you need to see how effective your business plan functions in reality. Start looking for actionable things that you can measure. These will help you gauge your progress.
One of the easiest things to measure is sales. However, sales are the end result of all the work you have done. If you are using Google Adwords, what is your conversion rate? How many interactions do you need to make a sale? Once you start becoming familiar with these numbers and ideas, you can get smarter about understanding them. The more measurements you make, the better off you will be.
Testing the success of your business plan from multiple angles will help you see the big picture. For example, considering your sales information alongside your advertising will help you make informed decisions when you decide where to allocate your marketing budget. This brings us to the next point...
4. Use the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule, or Pareto’s Principle, states that there is always an uneven divide between the amount of work that we do and the reward that’s earned for that work. For example, you might find that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your advertising. Conversely, that means that 80 percent of your advertising is only responsible for 20 percent of your business. Once you’ve identified this trend, you’ll want to direct more funds toward the part that’s working and reduce your spending on the less effective areas.
When you are searching for evidence of this principle, you want to look in 4 key areas:
- Daily habits
After you’ve collected your data, look for any places that have unbalanced spending and returns. Make adjustments as you see fit. Analyse your results and repeat the process. If you fail to look out for the 80/20 rule, you may unknowingly be spending money in all the wrong places and missing opportunities for a higher return on your time and money.
5. Learn something new (quickly)
Most people go into business using a skill they already know. Plumbers, accountants, fitness instructors, and web designers who go into business for themselves usually pick the industry because it is what they do best. The problem is that they quickly discover that they don’t know much about anything else. After a short time, they have accumulated some clients and then suddenly find themselves stuck.
They struggle when faced with a technical task like marketing, copywriting, or SEO. If you find yourself in a situation like this, your first instinct might be to hire someone to do it for you. However, you need to consider how limited your knowledge is of the task required. Will you be able to tell if the person you hire does a good job? You should always try to at least understand the work being done.
If you are thinking of hiring someone, consider whether or not you could quickly learn to do the work yourself. Being able to learn quickly is a skill that needs practice, too. If you are unable to learn quickly, you might find yourself working in your business and never on your business.
Now that you’ve got your business plan written, you need to be sure to take these 5 steps. How you manage your time and direct your energy will make or break your business. At this point, your business plan is just an idea, a theory. It is up to you to prove that it has the potential to be a successful, profitable business. Until that time, you should be making constant adjustments to fine-tune your business plan. The ideas outlined above provide the steps that are necessary to build, develop, and maintain your business through its infancy.
What are YOUR tips after writing a business plan?
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