Business Planning – An Outline For Getting Started

Everyone says business planning is so important, but so many don’t have a clue where to begin and how to go about it. My plan here is to create a simple outline of the whole process, and then link to the detailed articles about each step. You don’t need to follow each step in order necessarily, but that usually works best.  Also, remember this is just a guide. Don’t be afraid to do something special that fits your style, industry or needs.

  • Decide Who Gets To Decide & How – This is a leadership exercise, so lead. (Which doesn’t mean push, or pull or vote).
  • Who Are You – Or Who Do You Want To Be?
    • Write a culture description. – Webster’s definition of culture: “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”  You and your team are going to spend a lot of time in this business, don’t let the culture be an accident.
      • Attitude is Everything – clearly state what you expect.
      • Your Values Define You – define them now.
      • Goals – you can’t keep your eye on the ball if you don’t know what “the ball” is.
      • Practices Define How Things Get Done – define them carefully.
    • Write a Mission Statement and Guiding Principles.- This step really can give you guidance as your making day to day decisions and deciding what projects to commit to.
      • Gather some information from the participants and summarize it.
      • Give everyone a chance to write a Mission Statement and suggest guiding principles
      • Make a decision and try to follow the decision process you started with.
  • Writing That Business Plan – I like Business Planning that is actually useful, not just a financing request document.
    • S.W.O.T. Plus Analysis – It really is worth it, but you need to keep it real.
      • Strengths – What are our 3 biggest strengths?
      • Weakness – What are our 3 biggest weaknesses?
      • Opportunities – What are the 3 biggest opportunities we can succeed with in the next 6 months?
      • Threats – What three things do you worry about the most?
      • The Plus Question – If you could change 1 thing about the business, what would it be?
    • Write Your 5 Years From Now Dream – It’s good to dream and 5 years gives you some time.
      • What would awesome look like? – Look at S.W.O.T. and then imagine 5 years from now but don’t settle for anything short of awesome.
      • Think In Terms Like – Win! and Champions! and Super!  Those words aren’t the words of mediocrity…so use them!
    • Choose Your Broad Attack Categories – You’ll need to divide what you do up a little so you can get the help you need.
      • People usually like and excel in certain areas so divide your business goals up.
      • Use broad areas that go together like: Financials, Sales, Manufacturing, Team Building…
    • Write Your Goals – Big, small, long-term, urgent.
      • For each Broad Attack Category, first answer, “What absolutely must happen this year?” 
      • Then, for each B.A.C. ask yourself, “What is halfway between here, and the 5 year dream?” Now you have the 3 year goals.
      • Take the time to clearly define the goal and vividly describe what success is – Think WIN!
    • Choose Your Actions – Get The Most Bang For Your Work! – OK, if you’ve done a good job so far, this is where business planning meets action. It’s time to launch! 20% of your work will give you 80% of your results so due the right 20%!
      • Look at your first year goals and for each one, define the actions that will need to be done to meet each goal.
      • For each action vote on how hard it is (not how long it will take!). Use something visual like animals. Is this job a: chipmunk, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, rabbit, wolf, grizzly bear, elephant! That just gives you a quantity for the work.
      • Assign a dollar amount to how valuable each action is to the company.
      • Now all you have to do is compare the dollar amount to the work measurement you described on, and do the tasks the will give you the most result for the least amount of work.

You might also enjoy

Business Run Better