You understand that a business plan serves as a roadmap – it can help keep you on track as you work to realize your goals. Perhaps you already have a business plan that you use, with your team, to keep you grounded. But to be effective, a business plan needs to address certain fundamental principles and priorities and those are not always straightforward. This post will help identify those principles and will move you to ask the right questions as you set out to write and evaluate your business plan.
- What challenge do you address?
You certainly can’t map where you want go if you don’t know where you are at. Having a clear, concise value proposition that thoroughly addresses the challenge that you resolve is an important starting point for your business plan. If it is not already obvious what challenge you address, it may be useful to talk to customers and to ask them how your product/services has helped them. Sometimes, the answers can be unexpected.
Make sure your team is able to articulate your value proposition and that there is consensus across the organization along these lines. It will ensure alignment and help to build momentum.
- How do you deliver value?
Once you have determined the challenge your organization resolves for customers, you should then build out the manner in which you do so. What are the features and benefits of your product or service offering? Do you save your customers time and money? Do you extend their internal resources? Do you improve their lives? Understanding how you deliver value is the surest way to grow your sales – it provides insight into your customer’s pain and helps to differentiate from the competition. All of this should be captured in your business plan.
- Do you need consultants or outside resources?
Usually, a business plan addresses the internal resources required to realize your goals. However, sometimes you can’t scale to accommodate those resources, and you need to look outside of your organization. Your plan should address those possibilities and should outline the expected needs of consultants and outsourced resources.
- How do you differentiate from the competition?
The more saturated your market, the greater the need for differentiation. You better believe that your target customers are sizing you up against the competition, so if your value proposition does not differentiate, your sales will be compromised. Are you better? Faster? Cheaper? Do you offer better customer service? Make sure your business plan identifies these differentiators and builds out a sales and marketing strategy to address the competitive landscape.
- What is your long term vision?
You may have identified revenue goals and growth projections in your business plan, but have you considered what your longer term vision looks like? Do you plan to be acquired? Is an IPO part of your vision? Are you going to open new locations or even expand into new geographies? Your business plan should account for these intentions, even if they seem lofty or far off into the future. By articulating a long term vision, it will make it more realistic that it will be realized.
Writing a business plan can be a daunting exercise. If you would like some professional support, feel free to give us a call and we can share more about our services.