How Clear Is Your Business Plan?

Maybe you’re thinking of starting a small business or you’re already in business, but you’re struggling with direction.  Take time to strategize and pull together a business plan.  Great ideas are a terrific starting point for a new business, but there's much more to actually turning your ideas into a successful business.  Think through each of the following steps, keeping it as simple as you can.  Then, prioritize and take action! 

1.    Value Proposition:  Write a one-sentence description about your business.

2.    Market Need:  Identify the unmet need your product fills in the marketplace. 

3.    Your Solution:  Describe your products/services (how you fill the unmet need).

4.    Competition:  Determine who your competition is and how your offering is better and unique.  What distinguishes you and your company?

5.    Target Market:  Identify who will buy your products / services.

6.    Budgeting/Financial Forecasting:  Map out your costs to produce and sell, expected sales this year and how you’ll make a profit.  Profit happens at the positive gap between the prospective client’s willingness to pay and the cost to provide or produce your services or products.  On a personal level, be realistic about your living expenses and if necessary, look at other ways to make money while you’re growing your business.

7.    Sales and Marketing:  Clarify your brand.  Youtube videos, tweets, and blogging should all present a consistent message that represents your brand.  Promotional efforts might include word of mouth, networking, building an online presence including social media marketing, blogging, events, and direct mail for example.  Keep in mind, it is increasingly common to offer some type of freebies to bring people into your funnel, with the hope and expectation that these ultimately lead to paying clients by creating a following.

8.    Goals:  Get clear about what you hope to achieve in the next 2 years.  From there, what needs to happen by the end of year 1?  In order to achieve those goals, what short term goals can you set for the next 3 months?  Get specific and find an accountability partner to hold you to it.

9.    Business Management:  Think through day-to-day business operations.   This can include bookkeeping, maintaining a database of your leads and clients, budgeting and managing cash flow and possibly much more depending on the complexity of your business.  What makes you the right choice for running the business?  If not, who can help?

Which of the 9 steps above present the greatest challenge for you?  These steps are foundational to running a business.  Working with a coach can help you through this process so that you execute on your plan effectively, helping you overcome obstacles and holding you accountable to your vision. 

Any time you're starting something new and lofty, it can feel overwhelming at times.  Start simply by recognizing your greatest priorities in the process right now and get started.  Make it about who you are here to serve and get energized by recognizing all you have to offer already. 


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