Would You go from Philadelphia to LA via Seattle?
Would you take off from Philadelphia to LA without planning the trip? Could you? Sure! When the sun comes up, head west on anyone of the numerous interstates that go across country… -I90, I-80, I-70, I-40 …. But if you take the wrong one, you could end up in Seattle. You travel 2900 miles, but you’re still 1100 miles and 18 hours away from your destination. Also, where would you stop to eat or sleep? How much are the tolls? Gas? If you add a deadline when you need to be there, you add another dimension, stress. Now you’re really traveling blind, not knowing where you are going and wondering if you’re going to make it on time.
For many of us, planning the trip is a big part of the enjoyment. From the initial dream of getting away, to figuring out; How we will pay for it? When will we go? What will we see? What are we going to do when we get there? You can leave some room for flexibility, but having a plan provides a better chance that things will go smoothly.
Why wouldn’t you put the same amount of effort in your Business?
A good Business Plan is your roadmap to success
It provides you with the opportunity to address the key elements of your business:
• Overall Summary of the Business
• Statement of Purpose
• Basic Business Definition
• Target Customers
• Market Analysis
• Marketing Plan
• Production Plan
• Organization and Management
• Financial Projections
• List of Assumptions
Like planning a trip, you start your Business Plan with an idea. Then you begin to gather information. You assess what you already know and have, along with the resources needed. The key questions you ask are: Who are you? What do you do? Where are you headed? How and When do you expect to get there? Why you will be successful?
When finished, your Business Plan should provide you with a clear, concise summary of the steps necessary to make your business successful.
HOWEVER, that is not the end of your Business Plan. For many, after using the Business Plan to get a loan or attract investors, it is put on a shelf and forgotten about. BIG MISTAKE. Think of your Business Plan as your GPS.
Like any journey, not everything is going to go smoothly. There will be unanticipated situations that will develop, unforeseen obstacles and expenses that will arise. The degree to which you’ve researched and planned your course, will help minimize the number and impact these will have on your business. It will also provide you with a firm basis to make decisions on alternative courses of action. Like a GPS, when results are not what was expected or planned, that little voice will help guide you back on track, show you alternative routes, but nevertheless, get you to your original destination. Your Business Plan should be a living, breathing document that keeps you on track, evolves with your business overtime and provide you with the opportunity to know where you stand at any given point in time.
So get onboard, and turn in 300 feet.