Creating a business plan can seem to be a huge task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple steps, you can create a business plan.
Early in my career I always felt as if I was spinning my wheels. I would put in countless hours of hard work, but at the end of the year, I would not see the gains I desired. I would look back at the year and realize we had not progressed, but simply maintained. In these seasons I did a gut check and wondered what was going on. Sometimes I questioned whether I was the right person to lead.
While most leaders have visions of grandeur, they often don’t have a plan to get from where they are to where they envision their organization to be. What is needed is a business plan. Creating a business plan may seem like a huge task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple steps, you can create the successful business you desire.
I was introduced to the idea of drafting a business plan by Building Champions, an executive coaching company. The ideas in this post come from what I have learned through them.
Your plan does not need to be twenty pages thick; in fact, it may fit on a single sheet or two. It does not have to be comprehensive, but does need to answer the following questions:
1. What is your primary focus for this year?
Many components are necessary to get to your desired finish line, but what is the one thing you want to focus on this year? The rest of your business plan rests on how you answer this question.
The focus can be on one of two things:
- Something you measure. I work in the non-profit arena, so the figure important to me is the number of lives being changed. For your business, it may be customer retention, leads, sales growth, or location expansion.
- Principle. While the things you measure are important, sometimes it is a principle that needs the most focus this year. This could include improving internal communication, creating and implementing a plan for leadership development, improving team collaboration, and so forth. Improving in these areas will ultimately have a positive impact on the numbers you measure.
2. What are your desired outcomes?
You need to know when you reach your goal, so the desired outcomes should be measurable. Businesses may measure in terms of revenue, new hires, new clients, money spent on new initiatives, etc. For churches it could mean baptisms, members cared for in groups, salvation, new leaders trained, money given to missions, etc.
3. What consistent behaviors are necessary to get to the stated focus and desired outcomes?
These are the activities you do frequently that will inevitably help you reach your goals. These behaviors should be written succinctly. If I want to improve team collaboration, saying I will have meetings with my team is not clear or inspiring. However, stating I will hold a strategic meeting the first Monday of every month with my leadership team is.
4. What projects or improvements need to be done to make this possible?
Unlike the previous steps, this is not an ongoing discipline, but rather an improvement that can be checked off when complete. Technological upgrades such as new Customer Management Software, a new website, or a needed server expansion can fall under this category. It also may be a facility expansion or other building improvement necessary to accomplish your outcomes.
I believe that a plan works when you work the plan. This may the very thing you are missing to take your organization or cause to the next level. Once you have your document finished, you may want to reveal it to your team members to get their input and buy-in. I encourage you to review it once a week to see if you are hitting your marks and to adjust your course as necessary.
Creating a business plan, life plan, and weekly rhythm are a few of the key elements I work on with my one-on-one coaching clients.
What is the next step you are going to take to make a business plan? What else would you add to this list that could be helpful to readers?