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Your Business Plan IS Your Business

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❶It is your company and you have put yourself in a position of risk, so be proactive in overseeing business results.

How Important Is Your Business Plan?

how can a business plan help you run your business


Nor should anyone else. No matter how good of an idea you have, a good business plan can greatly increase your chances of success. But it needs to be a plan truly designed to operate the business, not just a plan designed to sound good on the surface merely to help you raise money. Even if you are absolutely sure you are going to succeed anyway, a great business plan can raise the level of success you might achieve. Perhaps the most important element of a great business plan is whether or not you have really, carefully thought it through.

Yes, a great business plan should be relatively complete and address all aspects of your market, your customers, your competitors, and, of course, your business and your budget. You may decide some elements of your plan are much less important and spend less time focusing on them, or even skip them altogether. What really matters is how much deep thought you gave to the elements that matter most.

You want to challenge yourself, challenge your initial thoughts, challenge the way you were planning to do business or are currently doing business. To create a great plan you must approach the planning process with a really positive attitude. You want to approach it with the idea of exploring possibilities. Yes, it may be possible to do something really different. Yes, it may be possible to make some tweaks and have really better results next year. But if you can think positively and envision a great outcome, you will be much more likely to achieve one.

I tend to not work on it for more than a few hours at a time. But I come back and look and think about key parts of the plan time and time again. What matters most in a business plan? While it differs in every situation, usually some core element such as those that I have mentioned already analyzing the market, customers, competitors, your strengths and weaknesses, risks and opportunities are always critical.

Planning out your marketing is typically very important, but I find that marketing is fragile. It is hard to find marketing that always works, and even if it starts to work it can often fall off.

However, great marketing is not a substitute for true product differentiation. For most entrepreneurs, how they devote their time is a very important decision that often does not get the strategic thought that it deserves, but tends to be more a reaction to current demands. Thinking about where your focus, your time, and your energy and not just your money belong should be included in your business plan too.

For ongoing businesses I find that what is most important to emphasize in your business plan will change from time to time. You want to be proactive in making changes to your business plan. For example, you may want to focus on three key changes in how you operate your business next year. Change is difficult, which is why it can help for you to get your proposed changes down in writing in your business plan, and to also focus on just a few changes at a time.

The hardest part of creating a business plan for most people is getting started and overcoming the inertia. My advice on this is simple: Even if you only have a few minutes, jot down a few thoughts, a few sentences, a few fragments. The first words are the most important, so just get something down and then go back and edit them later. Anyone can write a business plan.

The most difficult parts of the plan, such as doing some deep thinking on alternatives for your unique differentiation, you might want to tackle when you are in the mood. So shift around your schedule; work on more mundane parts of the plan when you have less energy, and the more trying parts when you have more energy and are feeling creative.

Your business plan is the lifeblood of your business; you want to work on it carefully over a period of time. But another great obstacle remains in implementing your business plan to help you succeed: Soon after you finish your business plan, the tendency is often to jump back into the thick of things: The tendency is to then forget about your business plan. Instead, you need to discipline yourself to really utilize your plan.

What was your plan for how you were going to change your product or service? What was your plan for how much you were going to spend on marketing this month? What was your plan for prioritizing your time? Set aside a regular specific time to review how you are progressing versus the schedule in your business plan. Once, while at a book signing discussing how to run a business, I was asked if there was any one moment when I felt my business was really started to prosper.

While I had business plans for several years, I was unhappy with the profitability of them. While accepting checks helps to prevent theft from within the business, checks can bounce, leaving you to handle outstanding issues with the bank. Credit cards and debit cards are generally the most secure forms of payments, but accepting them requires your to take on additional fees paid to various credit card companies which, depending on the size and complexity of your business, may not be worthwhile.

Consider using a credit control app. These are apps that help small businesses improve their cash flow through better management of day-to-day cash collection and customer credit control tasks. This would allow you to take-on new customers or monitor existing ones, chasing invoice payment or running cash collection more safely.

There are several software providers that can help you with this such as iKMC from where you can also get a free trial. Manage your inventory efficiently. Rotate inventory frequently to remove slow sellers and replace them with new items. For example, if you are dealing with perishable items, it is critical to move the oldest products out of your inventory first to maximize the profits of your business. Consider hiring a financial professional. It may be fiscally worthwhile for you to hire a dedicated staff member who can control the financial affairs of your small business.

Accountants can help you identify areas of your business that are not running efficiently from a fiscal standpoint, allowing you to maximize your profits. You do not necessarily need a full-time employee to handle financial responsibilities. For example, if you have a solid grasp on your inventory flow and cash flow management, you may only need a CPA when tax time comes around.

Method 2 Quiz What is a downside to working with cash? You will have to handle outstanding issues with the bank. Cash is hard to track long-term. You have to pay additional fees. Remember to register and acquire your small business license in the particular industry of your business.

Be sure to register for permits related to particular services you offer, like home repair or tax preparation, which could require registration and certification.

You will not be able to hire effective employees if your business is not operating with the appropriate licenses and permits. Be sure to check with your local small business administration to see what your business requires. Organization of your time, employees, finances and inventory is one of the keys to successfully run a small business.

Meetings can also help you analyze who is and who is not adequately performing the duties assigned to them. Small businesses often require employees to take on many tasks and responsibilities that may not fall firmly in their areas of expertise.

Also, when delegating responsibilities, make sure you are assigning oversight of a specific function to a qualified individual.

For example, you would not want an accountant representing you in a legal matter or a lawyer balancing your financial books. Thinking of your business functions in this way should also help you identify your needs when you are in the process of hiring employees. Once you have decided who should be responsible for the duties in your business, you need to remain involved to make sure all of your employees are following through with the tasks that have been assigned to them.

Also, you need to be responsive to the needs of your customers. From time to time you will need to hire or fire an employee. Make sure you are aware of all state and federal laws that deal with employment equality and anti-discrimination laws in your area as they pertain to the hiring, firing, disciplining and treatment of employees.

Employees may benefit from presenting you with skewed information about customer satisfaction or product usefulness, which, in turn, will lead you to make bad managerial decisions for the company as a whole. As such, do not simply accept what your employees tell you about your business without seeing evidence of their claims. It is your company and you have put yourself in a position of risk, so be proactive in overseeing business results.

Method 3 Quiz Why do you want to make sure your employees are all certified at the highest level? So they are qualified to report on customer feedback. So you can get tax breaks. So your customers trust you. Employ targeted promotional and marketing campaigns. It is important to get the word out about your company.

Make sure the money you set aside for marketing is well-spent by conducting demographic research. This will help you tailor your marketing plan to be as effective as possible. Paying to run a commercial on a national network does you little good if your business is only designed to operate at the local level. Think about who is most likely to buy your product and why they would buy it.

For example, if you are selling dentures, it makes little sense to include younger people in your marketing considerations. Network as much as possible. Gain the support of other local small businesses by networking with other small business owners.

Join small business associations and participate in community events to raise awareness of your business. Participate in community functions so potential clients will be aware of the services you offer. Staying at the cutting edge of your industry will help you draw customers away from competing businesses.

Compile a list of satisfied clients that are willing to serve as references to potential clients. This will give future customers the ability to verify your work and customer service.

Make sure potential clients and customers can get in touch with you and your business whenever they may need to. As a small business owner, it is up to you to make yourself and your company accessible to potential clients and your customer base.

This may require you to make your personal cell phone number or email address accessible to clients as you attempt to grow your business. Deliver what you promise. Your small business will need to offer a product or service of some kind to be successful. However, if you want to grow your business by growing your customer base, you have to give people not only what they want, but what you promised them.

If your product or service does not match what you advertise consistently, you will have incredible difficulty in growing your customer base. If you or your sales team is offering or promising too much, your customers will be understandably disappointed when they receive or use your product or service, leading to negative reviews and bad word-of-mouth about your business.

Method 4 Quiz How can you stay competitive within your industry? Plan out years in advance. Stay informed on industry news. Contact Us Toll-free for US customers: Please enter a valid email address or phone number.

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Feb 07,  · Talk to a consultant: Often a consultant can work with you for free to help you determine the right scope and budget for your project. Your preliminary discussions with a consultant are a great way to test the waters /5(47).

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In fact, a business plan is much more than that: It's a tool for understanding how your business is put together. You can use it to monitor progress, hold yourself accountable and control the business's fate.

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Oct 23,  · The rest of this article will provide the specifics of what you should include in your business plan, what you should skip, the critical components of the all-important financial projections, and links to additional resources that can help jump-start your plan/5(). writing a good thesis statement for a research paper How Can A Business Plan Help You Run Your Business phd thesis company law college essay format.

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How to Run Your Business: A Guide to Strategic, Effective Management You’ve established your business, so what’s next? This guide highlights everything you need to know–from managing finances to marketing strategies. Make selected portions of your business plan part of your new employee training. 8. Develop new business alliances. Use your plan to set targets for new alliances, and selected portions of your plan to communicate with those alliances. 7. .