Planning for a Successful Business
Planning is the key to all small business success. It’s easy to plan without a thought to how it will pan out and deal with the implications later. This can completely ruin your confidence. So here are the first six steps you should take to get started.
1. Your Vision
Come up with an idea, product or service, that “thing” you want your business to be. What is your unique selling proposition? How are you going to market your product? What are your goals for the next twelve (12) months? What name will you choose for your business? Will my business name offend anyone? What resources do you need for short term and longer term goals? You are more likely to succeed if you write down your vision forecast for the next 12 – 24 months.
2. Your Financial Commitments
What price do you intend to sell your product or service for? How much will it cost you to produce? If you are manufacturing your own products, how do will you add your time into the cost of producing the product? Fixed costs such as rent, energy, employees etc all cost money, so roughly estimate your profit and loss statements for the next 12 months.
3. Your Competition
Understanding your competition is an essential element to financial and business success.
- Who are your top 5 competitors? (A competitor is anyone in your field or industry who currently takes business from you or has the potential to take business from you.)
- How much are they dominating the market you wish to target?
- What do they do that is similar to me?
- Why are they successful?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- What do they do that I’m not doing?
- What do they sell that I’m not selling?
- What customer types are my competitors ignorning?
- Who is the competitions target market?
- How are my competitors marketing?
- How could my competitor threaten my business?
- What can I do better than my competitors?
4. Your Definite Major Purpose
As Napoleon Hill asked in his book Think and Grow Rich, “in what do I truly believe?” Why when you could be out dining or dancing with friends are you working on your business plan or next product? Why are you operating a small business or self employed? Why don’t you want to stay in a job that pays a steady salary with benefits?
5. Your Intention
What impact do you want to have on the clients? What will you do that differs from your competition? What impact do you want to have on your local community or country? What is your purpose? My purchases are directly related to these intentions. When the late Paul Newman created his company Newman’s Own he said this about his business “The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” My point is, in business or in life, what is the purpose? And in these crazy financial times, does a product add value to your life and to others?
6. Your Goals
Having clear, defined goals is a essential to keep moving your business forward. Set goals that excite you. Not every step in achieving the goal will be an over-the-moon experience, but the direction should be. Make your goals specific – don’t be vague. You vow to be more successful, to be more organised. Great, but what does any of this mean? What does “being more successful” look like to you and or your business? What are the metrics which show you you’ve arrived at your destination? The more specific your goal the better you’ll be able to see it and the more likely you’ll be of achieving it and making it a reality.
7. Your Priorities
How do you achieve your goals when other friends, family, children, dishes, colleagues, pets, bills, laundry are clamoring for your attention? Prioritise your goals and commit to achieving them regardless of who wants your attention.
8. Your Actions
Developing time management skills is a journey. Plan each day with as much detail as possible, schedule time with the kids, time for breaks, time for marketing, time for product manufacturing etc…plan each day in meticulous detail. You may not achieve all you have set out to do, however, if you write down a list of to-do’s and commit to a schedule, you will achieve so much more in your day.
So where to from here? As coined by M. Scott Peck walking the road less travelled, takes immense planning and hard work. The more work you do now during the start-up phase the less headaches you’ll have later on.
Author: Peta Di Palma