A Business Plan: The Ultimate Weapon for Small Business Success
Launching or growing your small business without a plan is akin to building a house without a blueprint. In other words, winging it is not the best path to success. Regardless of the size of your business, the most important document you can have is a business plan.
Some may think a business plan is unnecessary — especially when success is realized early in the game. But early success does not guarantee longevity. Things can go off course quickly, leading to chaotic business operations, lost revenue and business closure.
Even more than helping you gain financial backing for your small business should you need it, a business plan helps you beat the ‘going out of business’ blues by providing focused direction in building your business structure with clearly defined means to achieving goals.
Planning for Business Success
Only half of new businesses survive five years or more, according to the Small Business Administration. Plus, only 1 in 3 makes it to a 10-year anniversary. One reason is likely the poor foundation in which many businesses are built. A business plan can put you on solid footing when done right.
How is this possible? A well-developed plan helps you get specific about your business niche, the competition, the suitability of your product or service and how you can stand out from the crowd. Clarity on these factors is a must for figuring out the strength and profitability potential of your business.
Key Plan Segments for Your Small Business
A written business plan can be as short or as long as you need it to be in order to cover the necessary details that make sense for your business. In addition to providing a good business description, you will want to define these key aspects:
- A description of planned business operations, including the day-to-day processes
- Marketing plans that address how you plan to reach your customers and get them to buy
- A financial plan that addresses funding and your break even point
- Defined business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and how these play into meeting your business goals
- Growth initiatives for long-term success
A Living Document
Just like any blueprint, a business plan is adaptable to changing circumstances. It is a living document requiring regular reviews and updates to address new strategies, markets, cash flow and other business fundamentals, according to Citibank’s guide to creating a business plan.
It does take time to write a good business plan. But, with a bonafide rendering, you can join the ranks of small business owners who celebrate 10-year anniversaries and beyond.