Don't Mistake Activity for Action

A Business Plan must satisfy a multitude of audiences but serves only one purpose--planning!  It sounds obvious, however countless entrepreneurs miss that point.  With a numberless set of tasks on any given day, most small business owners see business plans as unnecessary work.  Rather than recognizing it as the tool it is, too many see a business plan as mere window dressing.

The first audience of a business plan is the entrepreneur.  The advantage here is that formality and gloss can be neglected, focusing on key objectives alone.  A mere outline can be tremendously useful but more is never harmful.  The second targets are key employees.  In order for your vision to be translated, the bare-bones must be fleshed.  Can you enunciate your dream?  Can your audience explain it back to you. Your business plan's third market is lenders and investors.  These are the most demanding, fully expecting a pro forma approach.

There's no doubt that you have a business plan--if only in your head.  An infinitely better plan is only as far away as the end of your fingers.  Begin putting your ideas on paper.  Initially don't worry about consistency, logic or organization.  Give your creativity flower.  Don't criticize or edit but simply record your dream and establish a  real form.

Once the essence of your business is captured, you are ready to begin planning.  The key components are:  a Mission Statement, Concept and Opportunity, Market Analysis, Competitive Comparison, Strategy and Implementation, Critical Milestones and Time-line, Management and Personnel, Operating Expenses, Financial Projections, Succession Planning and Exit Strategy.

© William Hudnall 2011

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