So you've just started your own business. If you are like most of us in McLennan - you've just fallen into the role of entrepreneur. Did you know that by offering your product or service to the public you would be bombarded with eager customers? Did you know you'd have to buy more stock and equipment just to keep up with demand? Well if you were in the dark about this - I am here to tell you to stop lamenting your woes!
Whether you are opening a retail store, operating a service business or offering product for sale from home - you could have been much better prepared for the current situation. A business does well when it has the proper management, staff, product or service and offers good customer service. But without a plan, a goal, some financial planning and forethought - you'll soon end up wishing you had never started this hair-brained idea!
Is it too late now to set some goals? Absolutely not! The truth is that businesses should be constantly reviewing their goals, making new strategic plans and evaluating their business plans on a regular (usually annual) basis. If you don't know where you are heading or how you'll get there - well you won't end up anywhere, now will you? So if this is your first time considering these important details - you can pick it up right now and continue to review on a yearly basis.
The business plan is the anchoring document for any business. This document will provide you with clarity on why you as a business exist and where you are headed - what your reason for starting a business was in the first place. A typical business plan will cover the following topics; Business Overview, Market Segmentation, Competitive Advantage, SWOT Analysis, Sales & Marketing Plan, Operating Plan, Key Employees, Action Plan and Timeline, Executive Summary.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed - do not fear! There are many resources to aid you in developing a business plan, some are even free. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, Economic Development Office as well as many business consultants.
The strategic plan builds from the work completed in the business plan. This document will now focus on the steps to take to achieve the goals identified. It will also delineate the business' Mission, Vision and Core Values. The strategic plan will include key steps to take to achieve the Goals identified and may also include the SWOT Analysis. Once the key steps to take have been identified, there will be timelines and measurement tools attached.
Ok, so for an example: Goal #1 of Company ABC has been identified in the business plan as "Have $500,000 sales by year 3." Now comes the strategic plan where you can take the lofty goal and break it down. You first have to decide what is achievable within the one year timeline the strategic plan covers - sales of $150,000. Next, identify the actions you will need to take to achieve this one year goal as well as identify how you will measure it's success or completion: Step #1 is to market your product/service locally as well as provincially - measured by response to each marketing strategy, ie: how many calls you receive from each geographical region. Step #2 is to develop a customer service strategy to retain key customers - measured by the amount of repeat customers.
Last one! The business plan and strategic plan can be hard to implement sometimes - they are huge lofty documents which are difficult to conceptualize, even after setting specific targets and measurements. Focus now on developing internal documents to help build upon the information identified in the plan. The management team has gone out and formulated excellent goals and strategies, but how do they now convey this to their employees? Or, are you a sole proprietor? Well, you've gone out and identified your goals and what steps you need to take to achieve those goals - but you're stuck! How do you start?
When businesses provide internal documents to staff where they identify the culture, the reason for being, the core values of the company along with the general direction AND when this culture is lived every day by the management team - employees can now conceptualize it and act upon it. Bring it down to something they can work on, make it fun and engaging and provide the tools and training - and your employees will do the work for you!