Running a business without a business plan is like rock climbing blindfolded. Your chances of making it successfully to the top are slim. And the process will surely be a death-defying one.
Contrary to popular practice, a business plan is not a means to securing financing. Instead it is a step-by-step guide to running your business and creating the product or service that will make it in the marketplace. And like any other map, your plan will have to be adjusted according to your vision for the company, conditions and opportunities in the marketplace and your business’ current condition.
Whether it’s formal or informal, every business has a plan. The local hair salon may not have formally written down the plan, but before setting up shop, a smart owner would have assessed the need for a shop in that area of town, the ability to attract clients there, the appropriate amount of chairs, whether to hire someone to do the shampooing and sweeping, the cost of utilities, the parking availability for clients.
A business plan helps to minimize those pitfalls.
To many people, the concept of writing a business plan for their own business is a daunting one. Perhaps it would appear less daunting to view the process as simply writing the answer to three questions, namely:
- 1. Where are you now?
- 2. Where do you want to be at a future date?
- 3. How will you get there?
THE FIRST QUESTION – ‘Where are you now?’ – must be your starting point. This question seeks to provide a planning base. It looks at your business to establish such things as:
- 1. Your business idea
- 2. Your current level of sales
- 3. Your customer groups
- 4. Your products and services
- 5. Your pricing policy
- 6. Your distribution policy