The business plan process helps you think through all parts of your business, establish a solid foundation and puts you in a position for business growth. The parts of the business plan that you can’t do or are hard for you, are the areas where you need professional help. Here are some tips for creating a business plan for your business.
BUSINESS PLAN ESSENTIALS
There are three parts to a successful overall plan: strategic plan, business plan and operational plan. Business planning is similar to planning a vacation. The strategic plan determines where you are going to go, the time of year, and who you will go with. The business plan determines how you will get there, how much money to bring, and a basic idea of what you will be doing. Finally, the operational plan determines all the actions you will do once you are there.
With business planning you need to know the long term prosperity of your business and whether it is positioned correctly for the marketplace today and in the future. Don’t skip the steps. Research shows that strategic planning is the only form of planning that has a strong connection to financial performance. In other words, if your foundation isn’t solid, the rest of the business can’t thrive.
SCORE has developed a free online class for strategic planning that shows you how to create a mission, visions, goals, and strategy for your business. Once you have a strong foundation, you are ready for the business plan. There are many sources of help to create business plans – online classes (free and low-cost), low-cost classes through the SBDC and SCORE, books and software.
Click here for free business plan tools. Make sure that your business plan clearly supports your strategic plan. If it doesn’t, go back and refine your business plan; it is like building a house and not attaching it to its foundation.
Your operational plans are all the details you will need to do business: the forms you will need, the procedures, the sales process to follow and more. Get a binder with dividers and write notes as you think of things. Also, supplement your operational plans by reading books about business and talking with others. Make sure your operational plans reflect your business plan. Usually that means to make sure your operational plans (expenses and revenue) stay within budget – but it can also help you prioritize your time.
You need to revisit your strategic plan every year; your business plan every quarter; and your operational plan every week.
LENGTH OF YOUR BUSINESS PLAN
There is no determined length for a business plan. Really, a business plan needs to be whatever length is required to excite the financing source, prove that management truly understands the market, and detail the execution strategy. A business plan can range in size from 38 to 50 pages for a basic plan to as high as 80 to 100 pages for complex plans. Learn more from the SBA on its recommended business plans and length.
There are a variety of financial calculators that can help you figure out where your business stands. From starting costs and payroll tax calculators to market size and target inventory stock level calculators you can figure out several factors to include in a business plan.
DON’T FORGET THE TECHNOLOGY PLAN
SCORE has developed a series of videos to help businesses use technology to improve their business. Learn how to develop a technology plan for your business, create a successful website and use technology to improve cash flow.
For help with starting your business and developing a business plan, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.