A business plan is no easy task. It is the most important document a small business owner should have and the one that most small business owners don't have. A traditional business plan is minimally 20 pages long and can takes months to prepare. And that’s why most SBOs don't create one.
But what if I told you that you can create a business plan in less than an hour AND in 6 easy steps? Sssshhhh don't tell anyone.
A basic business plan should include six elements – who, what, when, where, why and how. These six elements are the actual steps to creating your business plan. I know it seems too simple right? Well let me show you.
Who. Simple – who do you want to serve? Determine who your ideal client is that needs your service. Are they a small business owner or not? What industry are they in? If they are a small business owner, how much income do they make? One of the BIGGEST mistakes small business owners make is that they are trying to serve everyone. But you can't. You have to focus on one type of client and build upon it later.
What. What values do you promise to provide to your clients? What is your overall mission? What services will you provide? This is where you get clear on what makes you different from other companies who already provide the same service you what to offer. This is what makes you stand out.
When. This step is important in establishing your time management; especially if you are starting your business on a part-time basis. This is also the step where you will determine when you will launch your business. Establish how long it will take you get your new business off the ground and create a timeline.
Where. You've heard it before location, location, location. This is critical when you are operating a store front business. You want to be clear that where you are setting up shop will be an ideal location for your business. This step is also where you will set your goals for the future. Where will your business be one year from now?
Why. This is the most important question to answer. I am sure you have heard it before. What is your why? Your why has to be bigger than you. What is your purpose for creating this business? What are you ordained to do with your life? There has to be a greater cause or your business won't succeed. This is important because your why will fuel your passion and help keep you going. Remember it's not about you.
How. And lastly, how will you set all of this in motion? How will you get clients? How will you finance your business? How will this business affect your life? This is where you set the plan for how you will accomplish the other five steps. Without this step nothing will happen and your dream will remain a dream.
Do you see the trend here? Take any one of these six everyday questions, and apply them to your business idea. What other questions can you think of that can fit into this structure? You can even re-arrange the questions in any order to flow more easily for you; just be sure you answer them all.
Do you have a business plan? If so, how long did it take you to create it? And what advice can you give those who have yet to create theirs? If you don't have a completed one yet, what is holding you back?
Sherrell Martin is the Founder and CEO of Empower 2 Thrive, LLC, a boutique practice offering financial management accounting and business development strategies. She uses accounting, finance & business strategy to help business owners and entrepreneurs who struggle with business and financial organization establish systems that will allow them to create, build and maintain a financially thriving business.